Newcastle Thunder will play Championship rugby league in 2021 after the club’s application to join the sport’s second tier was approved by an RFL committee this afternoon

The success will see Thunder step up from Betfred League 1 for the first time since 2009 and join a 14-team competition that it is aiming to start its 2021 season in March next year

Submitting a bid based around on-field ambition, an award-winning community programme, a burgeoning number of grassroots clubs and a full pathway academy, the application’s success places Thunder a step closer towards the clubs ambitious targets.

It is also set to provide a timely springboard to the club’s efforts to further establish itself in the region’s sporting psyche with the opportunity to compete against well established rugby league outfits coinciding with two landmark events.

Firstly in May, St James’ Park will once again host the Magic Weekend, before five games in the Rugby League World Cup are held in the region in the Autumn.

With Betfred Championship rugby league to look forward too, the sport is set for exciting times in the north east, with Thunder chairman Mick Hogan keen that the club makes the most of the opportunity.

He said: “This is tremendous news for Newcastle Thunder and vindicates the progress we have made on and off the field in the past five years. 

“We believe we have the solid foundations in place to continue our growth over the next few seasons. Our academy and community foundation are growing the sport and our coaching structure, training facilities and stadium will help drive on-field progress.

“We now need to demonstrate the substance of our bid and it’s success by being really competitive on the field and continuing to grow the number of participants, supporters and sponsors. 

“Our long-term mission is to win Super League by 2030 and this is a significant milestone towards that.”