The award was introduced last year in memory of former London Broncos Academy player Matt King OBE and is determined in partnership with the RFL, Rugby League Cares and the Rugby League Benevolent Fund, to support inspirational young people in the sport.
Dylan, who is 20 and lives in Runcorn, is the primary beneficiary. He is a voluntary coach for the Widnes Vikings Community Foundation, in addition to playing for the Vikings in the Community Integrated Care Learning Disability Super League, and has been granted funds to assist in his aims of becoming a qualified coach and attending university, and to help achieve his ambition of becoming coach of the Widnes LDSL team.
Thomas, who is 24, has been granted a smaller amount to fund the 12 modules of the UKCC Level 3 Certificate for Coaching Rugby League. He already holds a Level 2 Certificate which has allowed him to fulfil coaching roles with his home-town club Leigh Miners, plus Swinton Lions and the England Community Lions Under-16s. He has also performed invaluable volunteer roles with Leigh Leopards, and the Swinton Lions Foundation.
Sandy Lindsay MBE, one of the RFL’s Non-Executive Directors who chairs the Bursary award panel, said: “We would like to thank Dylan and Thomas for the commitment they have already shown to Rugby League and for the quality of their applications, and congratulate them as worthy recipients of these awards in memory of Matt King OBE.
“Dylan’s application stated that he is already ‘living his dream playing for the club he adores’, Widnes, in the Learning Disability Super League.
“It is clear he has so much passion for Rugby League and determination to achieve his potential. He has created a detailed plan to achieve his ambitious goals, and the Bursary will be released in stages to support his progress.
“For Thomas, with impressive coaching pedigree already at such a young age, securing the Level 3 Coaching Certificate would allow him to continue his progress, and to influence more young lives – whether at Swinton Lions or with their Foundation, or with Leigh Miners, or the England Community Lions.
“That is what unites these applications, their potential to make such a positive impact, specific to the sport of Rugby League – and on that basis, I’m sure Matt King would have approved.
“We remain hugely grateful to the private benefactor and lover of Rugby League, whose support allowed us to create this Bursary in Matt’s memory.”
Matt King’s life was transformed in 2004 when he suffered a serious spinal injury on his debut for London Broncos Academy as a 17-year-old, leaving him paralysed from the neck down and unable to breathe independently.
His injury led to the formation of the Rugby League Benevolent Fund, which has since provided critical support to dozens of players and their families.
Matt received the OBE in 2012 for his inspirational response, as he raised huge sums for charity in addition to gaining a First Class law degree and securing a role with the Williams Formula One team.
The Matt King Educational Bursary was created last year, following his death in 2021 at the age of 33.
Nathan Mulhall, a 23-year-old former England Wheelchair international who has cerebral palsy, was the inaugural recipient, having applied for funds to complete his teacher training to allow him to promote the positive impact of playing Rugby League, and especially Wheelchair Rugby League, to pupils at Ryburn Valley High School in Sowerby Bridge.
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