Thunder Launch Ground Breaking SPARC Festival

Saturday 16th March sees the first of Newcastle Thunder Academy’s new SPARC Festivals being held at Kingston Park. Attending clubs are to meet at 10:00 for games to begin at 10:30.


The SPARC Festival will consist of modified games in which players will be able to earn points for their teams by showcasing their abilities and characteristics. The SPARC elements are; S – Skills P – Physical A – Awareness R – Resilience C – Character


Each of the SPARC elements will be attached to the games – with the SPARC Game Coach awarding points throughout the games based on what they see on the field. The scoring system will work as follows:-


S – Skills – 1 point for any examples of players demonstrating good core skills (catch, pass, kick, tackle, play the ball, grip) as well as double points for any try scored from inside a team’s own 40m area.


P – Physical – 1pt awarded for any examples of players demonstrating good physical attributes (speed, strength, power, agility, stamina)


A – Awareness – 1pt awarded for any examples of players demonstrating good awareness (identifying space, numbers/overlaps, mismatches) and attempting to exploit this.


R – Resilience – 3pts awarded to a team who is able to make their opponent kick from their own half in the set immediately after conceding a try.


C – Character – 1pt awarded for any examples of players demonstrating good character (leadership, honesty, respect, support, feedback).


Alongside this – each team will have 3 SPARC powers which can be used throughout their games.  It will be the players who will be responsible for implementing these powers.  These are:-

1)  Rewind – go back one play for a second chance

2)  Double points – all points are worth double for one set of 6 tackles

3)  Overload – choose 2 players from the opposition to leave the field for one set of 6 tackles.


There will be no scrums with play restarting with a play the ball following an error or a tap restart should the ball leave the field of play. Goal kicks and restarts will have a time limit of 30 seconds in an attempt to maximise the ball in play time of games.


Speaking about the SPARC Festival, Academy Manager Michael Heap is excited to get this new format up and running. “We are proud of the North East’s innovative approach to Junior Development and the strong links we have with North East Rugby League – which allows us to build these player development opportunities into the NERL junior calendar.  After reviewing our Player Development Programme from 2018 we believe that we can engage more players by incorporating their community clubs in this so that they can come along and play with their mates.  The aim of the SPARC Festival is to provide all junior players with additional playing opportunities whilst giving the players control of how they play, encouraging creativity and also rewarding the key components of performance which can sometimes go unnoticed in normal games. The SPARC Festival gives every child regardless of perceived ability, experience or development stage the chance to play more rugby league and enjoy themselves.”


“The SPARC Festival aims to build on the positive feedback we receive about NERL Junior Finals days and provide all players with a truly enjoyable and memorable experience in a fun and safe setting. We will have music playing, players featuring on the big screen as well as opportunities off the field for players to enjoy themselves.”


The SPARC Festival is open to all junior rugby league players, clubs and schools as well as junior teams from other sports. There are still chances to be involved in this weeks festival and clubs/players are encouraged to bring whatever participants they have as teams can be modified on the day to make sure everyone gets ample playing time.

To register simply contact [email protected].