Yorkshire Rugby academy manager Ben Lazenby has taken to Twitter to express disappointment that the plug was pulled on the youth set-up at Yorkshire Carnegie, the struggling club recently relegated to National 1.

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Despite Carnegie getting ushered out of the Championship on the back of a pitiful season featuring some avalanche-type results, there was still hope the academy programme, which produced talent such as England scrum-half Danny Care, could continue to exist after the club announced it was no longer able to fund it.

The RFU and Yorkshire RFU were apparently working to secure the pathway’s future, but the financial strain of the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in seven academy staff and three players being informed this week that it was being shut down. 

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An explanation on the Yorkshire RFU website read: “Pre-pandemic, a funding model had been agreed to maintain the academy programme in conjunction with a new partner. However, due to the considerable strain of Covid-19, this is unfortunately not currently possible.

“Yorkshire RFU and the RFU continue to look at other options to secure the long-term future of the programme and engage with potential partners. Both organisations are committed to ensuring a short and long-term development programme in Yorkshire that remains fully supportive of Yorkshire Rugby while helping those aspiring players progress to great things.”

This claim that the programme could potentially restart in the future was of no solace to axed academy boss Lazenby. “Truly gutted things have ended like this,” he wrote on Twitter. “I’ve had a rare opportunity to work with some exceptionally talented people and players over the past five years and there are so many positives and memories to take from this rollercoaster. 

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“I can’t emphasise enough how dedicated, driven and diligent my colleagues have been in the face of adversity over the last twelve to 18 months and how the players inspired us to keep the show on the road. I hope something is put in place to support Yorkshire players to achieve their potential and would love to play even a small part in that. 

“For now I’d just like to thank everyone who has supported us through the years but most importantly my colleagues and friends in the academy – the best in the business. It has been a blast.”

Yorkshire Carnegie didn’t win a Championship game all last season and earned just two losing bonus points. Their points difference ended up at minus 528, an average losing margin of over 37 points a game.

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