Student-athlete Kyden ‘over the moon’ at signing for Leeds Rhinos

One of our student-athletes has achieved a lifelong dream by signing for Leeds Rhinos.

Kyden Frater is the latest success story to emerge from Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s Development Academy programme, which is run in partnership with Leeds Sixth Form College and Leeds City College.

He has become the second player from the Development Academy team, following the signing of Mekhi Bridgeman-Reaney earlier this year, to sign a professional contract with the Rhinos.

Fulfilling a childhood dream

Kyden is one of seven members of the Academy squad to have just signed with the rugby league club. A lifelong Rhinos fan, he declared himself ‘over the moon’ – and credited the role of his community club, Milford, and the Development Academy in helping him reach this stage.

He said: “It’s probably one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. Wearing that jersey which I’ve always wanted to wear, for the club I’ve supported since I was a little boy, is something I’ve wanted to do since I started playing rugby.”

Although usually a full-back, Kyden, who helped the Development Academy team reach the College Cup final this year, has already scored a couple of tries on the wing for the Rhinos Under-18s.

The Development Academy’s professional set-up has improved my game

He said: “It’s a good feeling scoring for the Rhinos and hearing the crowd there cheering you on and getting behind you really drives you on.

I played for Milford from a young age up until last year, when I moved into the Rhinos Academy and also played for the Development Academy team, which was great.

“I got to my first ever final and, although we didn’t get the result we needed, to play in my first final at Headingley was a special experience. Everything about the Development Academy is so professional and it’s good because you’re playing in a different environment from your club team, with a different set of mates.

“Some of those lads have never played competitively before so it’s a really good grounding and you definitely learn a lot from the coaches, which helps improve your game.

Kyden, who is studying a level 2 Fitness Instructing (gym) course, is determined to now push on and reach the very top level of his sport.

He added: “Hopefully if I keep working hard then eventually I’ll reach the first team, because that’s the next goal I want to achieve with the club.”

The Development Academy is part of Leeds Sports Connect, which offers quality education and training through a link between Leeds City College and Leeds Sixth Form College and a number of local, professional sports clubs.

Deputy Principal of Leeds Sixth Form College, Ryan Grant, said: “The Development Academy team has had a fantastic year and to see another of their players sign up with the Rhinos is testament to that.

“Kyden has thoroughly earned this opportunity and we’re confident he will achieve great things as he pushes on to the next level.

“Making amazing opportunities like this achievable is the driving force behind the development academy, and Leeds Sports Connect – so it is really rewarding to see student-athletes like Kyden take their chance.

“We’re really proud of him!”

To learn more about the Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s Development Academy click here.

Colleges’ rugby stars in running for top award

Rugby players from Leeds Sixth Form College and Leeds City College could top off a ‘brilliant year’ by winning a major award.

Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s Development Academy team have enjoyed an outstanding season that has seen them reach the National Colleges Cup Final for the first time. They will head to Headingley Stadium for that high-profile clash with Warrington Wolves Development Academy on Wednesday 27 April.

And now the team are celebrating reaching another final – that of the 2022 Leeds Sports Awards, where they have been shortlisted in the Student Sport: Performance category.

They will find out how they have fared on Thursday 12 May when all of the finalists will gather at New Dock Hall for one of the highlights of Leeds’ sporting calendar. 

The fruits of partnership

Deputy Principal of Leeds Sixth Form College, Ryan Grant, said: “To have been shortlisted for this award is a fantastic achievement for the team and yet another sign of what a fantastic season they have had.

“It is also further proof of the massive benefits that our student-athletes, and the sports clubs and groups they work with, can enjoy through our Leeds Sports Connect partnership.

“The team will be rubbing shoulders with some of Leeds’ biggest sporting names at the awards night, including Leeds United and England player Kalvin Phillips – and deservedly so.

“We are delighted to see them flourishing and hope they can go on to score a double victory by winning the cup final and picking up an award.”

Leeds Rhinos Foundation were also thrilled to see the team reach another final. Head of Community, Gareth Cook, said: “It has been a brilliant year for the college programme, with the team reaching their first ever College Cup final.

“We also saw their star centre, Mekhi Bridgeman-Reaney, become the first development academy player to earn a professional contract after a string of impressive performances saw him sign for Leeds Rhinos Reserves.”

Special moment for head coach Harvey

The team will be led out for their cup final at Headingley by Leeds Rhinos Development Academy coach Harvey Whiteley, who is a former Leeds City College Sports student.

Harvey, hoping to round off a fine first season as coach with silverware, said the team were ‘chuffed’ to have been nominated for an award but were fully focused on the big game.

He said: “The lads are over the moon to just get there, I know I am. I’d like to focus on the final for now and then enjoy the sports awards after.”

As for him now coaching the student team, he added: “I’ve sort of gone full circle, having been a student and being tutored by some of the tutors that I’m working with now. It’s a great feeling and it makes it a bit more special.”

Presented by Sport Leeds and Leeds City Council, the Leeds Sports Awards are held each year to celebrate the sporting achievements of local athletes of all ages and levels, along with coaches, administrators and volunteers throughout the past 12 months.

Other finalists in this year’s awards include seven times Paralympic Champion Wheelchair Racer, Hannah Cockroft MBE, England international footballer, Kalvin Phillips, and cyclist, Tom Pidcock MBE.