The Bradford Bulls Supporters Trust

BullBuilder - The Bradford Bulls Supporters Trust

U16s to go from strength to strength


Last week BullBuilder caught up with Bulls Head of Youth John Bastian and new U16 coach Mark Dunning.    BullBuilder is providing a significant cash injection into the U16 coaching set up in 2017 and BullBuilder member Sam Grundy asked Mark Dunning what member’s contributions would be going toward:

“It’s going to be a continuation of the good honest hard work done over the last few years.   I’ve been involved in the Scholarship programme now for 4 years.   It’s had a new focus and mindset over the past 2-3 years and you’ll see a continuation of that.”

“Through John, Robin and the scouting network we recruit U14 and U15 players who take on a 2 year scholarship with the club.  We hopefully progress them into Academy level competition after U16s is done.   John and the scouts cast the net pretty wide.  They’re out on Sunday mornings in all weather and travel all over.”

“There are different challenges each year – different kids each year with different backgrounds, needs and abilities.  We thrive on those challenges and try to make these kids better people as well as better players.”

“A typical U16 will get into a gym programme to improve him physically and we’ll help with dealing off field challenges that young adults face.  The main thing is we’re trying to make RL players out of them so they get good coaching.   It’s all something we’re passionate about.”

“It’s not always about results on the field at this stage but for the last two years we’ve done very well and we’ve also done well producing players for the U19s which is key to what we do and I’ll be carrying on the good work that Leigh Beattie did.  We have fourteen players moving up to the U19s for 2017.   For the last two years that number has been in double figures, which was not happening before.     When I go back to when I played as a junior for the Bulls that was unheard of.    That’s testament to the programme and what we do.”

John Bastian added “I’d also say we’re increasing all the time the number of Bradford based players as well as those from other places.  I’m delighted these numbers are going up.  We have gone up from 13% of our U16s being from Bradford in 2014 to 40% in 2016 our squad that are post coded to Bradford, which is very good numbers and a big increase in 2 years.”

John Bastian was fulsome in his praise for Mark:  “Where Mark Dunning’s concerned he’s certainly progressed over the last few years.  His contribution and dedication has been top drawer.  Not just to the U16s programme but he goes out and watches junior games and has worked really hard with the U19s and anything that’s been asked of him as a volunteer so his promotion has been well earned over the past 4 years including before I was here.”


“I’m delighted that BullBuilder are financially contributing toward Mark’s position, which will help him develop and progress as a coach and will certainly have an influence on the junior players we’re bringing through our ranks here at Bradford Bulls.”

Mark summed up how he and the rest of the staff value the contributions of BullBuilder members : “If you’re a supporter of the club you’ve got to be a supporter of BullBuilder because the work they do is absolutely fantastic and invaluable to the programme that John’s put together.   I can’t speak highly enough of the organisation.  Embrace it and get involved.”

BullBuilder will be contributing even more to help the U16s and U19s next season.  Over £600 was raised in the bucket collection at the semi-final against Dewsbury last week.  Thanks to your contributions we can help provide the help that John, Leigh and Mark need in 2017.

To find out more and how to join for as little as £10 a year please visit www.Bullbuilder.co.uk

Two of the best!


Bullbuilder player of the year awards presented to Liam Kirk and Vytas Vasnys who have been rewarded for their efforts in 2016.   The awards, sponsored by GTL Car Spares of Leeds will be presented by Actor and BullBuilder Patron Duncan Preston with Bullbuilder member (and Academy Player Sponsor ) Mary Dellman.

Liam Kirk wins the U19 player of the year award.   It caps a great year for Liam who made his first team debut at Workington and has been given a first team contract for 2017.   The 6’4” prop from Drighlington has been a cornerstone of the U19 pack that has helped propel the side into the top echelons of the league.   Sponsored by Fabtek Insulations Liam won the BullBuilder Rookie of the Year in 2014 as a junior and has progressed strongly through the Bulls system to first team level.

Head of Youth John Bastian said “Liam has been a great role model in the Academy, consistent and honest with his preparation which has been a reflection of his performances on the rugby field, he fully deserves his award from Bullbuilder and we are very proud that he has also been promoted to Rohan Smiths 1st Grade squad.”

Vytas Vasnys wins the U16 player of the year award.   Vytas is a loose forward from Hunslet Warriors who made a try scoring start to the season in an 88-0 victory over Cumbria Academy and hasn’t looked back.

U16 coach Leigh Beattie said “Vytas signed two years ago on our Scholarship from Hunslet Warriors and instantly made his mark on me with his commitment to training and playing. He hit a wobbly patch this year and managed to overcome this and excelled both on the field and in the gym. He is a great kid to coach and absorbs all the information given. He is a credit to his parents and Hunslet Warriors and fully deserves the BullBuilder U16’s Player of the Year.”

BullBuilder spokesman Paul Butterworth said “It’s great to be able to recognise these young men for their efforts on the field this season.   Liam has won a number of awards in his time with us and we’re delighted to see him progress to the first team.    Vytas is at the beginning of that pathway and has made an outstanding start, we look forward to him making the same progress.”

“BullBuilder has, thanks to the donations of its members, contributed thousands of pounds over the past few years to help develop our young players.   We intend, with the help of our growing membership, to keep doing that.   We’ll be striving to help John Bastian and his team get all the help possible.   Supporters can join for as little as £10 per year and know they are helping provide those extras that make all the difference.”

Too find out more visit www.BullBuilder.co.uk

Be Proud


Be Proud

On Sunday at half time BullBuilder will be presenting U16’s and U19’s Player of the Year Trophies (kindly sponsored by GTL Car Spares).

This together with the news that six U19’s have signed to the first team squad and 14 Scholarship graduates have signed professional terms with the Bulls will hopefully make every Bullbuilder Member and all those who has supported/contributed to BullBuilder feel very proud.

BullBuilder are committed to making and supporting the Bulls Scholarship and Academy Structure.  Our next target is to make a substantial contribution the coaching and development of the Bulls U16’s and U 19’s.

Fundraising begins on Sunday with a Bucket Collection, before and after the match.  Every penny counts, hope people feel proud enough of these players and the coaching staff’s achievements to contribute.

BullBuilder aims are:

  • To invest in youth players at academy, scholarship & community levels
  • WHY – To help our 16’s and 19’s realise their ambitions
  • HOW – Using our creativity, commitment and enthusiasm
  • WHAT – We raise funds for the extras the 16’s and 19’s wouldn’t otherwise receive

THANK YOU from BullBuilder

Future Looking Bright for the Bulls


Bullbuilder were lucky enough to catch up with head coach Rohan Smith last week who took time out to give us his thoughts on youth development and how supporters can help.

The U16s and U19s have had good seasons and it’s great to see so many graduating to the next level.  Will we see these players figuring regularly in the first team in 2017?

One of the most rewarding aspects of coaching is seeing the progression of players out of the youth system and into the first team. I believe several players of this year’s U19s will feature regularly next season and there could be another half dozen more will get opportunities. 2018 will see some of these players more prominent.

Moving up from U16s to U19s or to the first team can be a big step.  What are the most important things a young player can do to make those steps successfully?

We have created an environment that is supportive and challenging. The step up can be a big one but the B.E.S.T program is bridging that gap and allowing the physical and skill development to continue after the U16’s season has been completed.

How is coaching at those levels different to being a 1st team coach?

Coaching at the U16 and U19’s level is about development. It is about teaching players to improve and preparing to be Super League players down the track. The standards are high. Coaches need to have an understanding of dealing with players that are going through a big transition in life….. from boys to men.  Challenging but supportive.

How does young player development at the Bulls compare with what you’ve experienced in Australia?

The systems and philosophy around youth development at the Bulls is fantastic. The depth of talent in certain areas of the NRL is certainly greater but the program and detail into progression of talent here is high quality. We are working on a great system to support the talent, rather than purely relying on talent.

How has BullBuilder helped the U16s and U19s this season?

In my short time at the club Bull Builder have made a significant impact. The ability to film U16 and U19s training sessions with great quality using the End Zone camera has been a fantastic addition. Given that some playing venues don’t have great vantage points the End Zone camera has been very useful to capture quality footage. Analysis and reviewing of performances is a major part of a young players development. We look forward to continuing to provide players with quality footage.

What more can BullBuilder do to help us progress further in the future?

I think having more dialogue with John Bastian and myself about the future of the club itself will help. Investing money that has been raised into various projects is great. The next level might be raising money for specific projects. If we can tell you what is desirable down the track then that may give drive/ambition/direction to chase that down? Hope that makes sense.

What can supporters do to help more?

Definitely a case of a little bit goes a long way. We want the Bulls fans to feel like they have their fingerprints on the team. Through Bull Builder fans can directly have an impact on the development pathway of the club. I am committed towards the production of junior players into our first team, so together we can provide the best service we can to see these kids progress.

Join us: https://membermojo.co.uk/bullbuilder/joinus

BullBuilder Make Another Contribution

BullBuilder are set to make another big contribution toward the club’s Scholarship and Academy setup by pumping in a substantial sum from September toward funding the position of Scholarship and Academy coach Mark Dunning.

BullBuilder spokesman Paul Butterworth explained “Mark is already with the club and currently contributes many hours of his time as a volunteer.   He is head of the Scholarship coaching team for 2016/17 as well as Assistant Coach for our successful U19s side.    As well as all that Mark spends a lot of his time analysing the statistics and coordinating with the rest of the coaching staff and players.   By making this financial contribution BullBuilder is providing stability to the coaching set up and making sure we keep a valued member of the team.”

“This represents a big commitment by BullBuilder that would not be possible without the generous contributions of our members.    We’d also welcome contributions from any businesses that wish to make some kind of contribution to help fund Mark’s post or help in any other way.   We can ensure that they would get plenty of publicity in return.”

In another move BullBuilder is to employ the services of Doug Folan who carries out the RFL’s Academy  Accreditation and who will spend valuable time with the Academy staff for a 2 day period assessing the strengths and areas that need to be improved with reference to the clubs RFL Accreditation. The outcome of the work facilitated by Doug will be a significant step forward for the Academy at Bradford and give a strategic support to the short and long term development plan.

With annual membership available from as little as £10 a year (£5 concession)  you can help play a part in making sure the club’s young players continue to get access to the best coaching and facilities.

Join BullBuilder on line https://membermojo.co.uk/bullbuilder

To find out more visit www.BullBuilder.co.uk


BullBuilder recently contacted head coach Rohan Smith and will be hoping to publish an in depth interview soon.

From Tiny Acorns comes Oakes

Academy Aim for Excellence

While the Bulls Academy goes from strength to strength on the field it’s also leading the way off it with several players taking the Advanced Level Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence AASE qualification and following the examples of double Olympic Gold Medallist Rebecca Adlington and England football international Jack Wilshere.

It provides a structured training and development route across a number of sports for talented young athletes (aged 16-19), who have a real chance of excelling in their sport; either by competing on the world stage or securing a professional contract.

The AASE programme reflects the range of skills, knowledge and performance criteria required in elite level sport. It is designed to directly measure the athlete’s ability to plan, apply and evaluate their development in the appropriate technical, tactical, physical and psychological aspects of their sport. It also addresses wider issues such as lifestyle, career development, communication and health and safety.

There are currently more than 2500 athletes on the AASE throughout England and the Bulls have been part of it with 70-80% of the academy doing the BTEC and AASE course with James Bentley, Lewis Ainley, Brandan Wilkinson and Matthew Crimes being offered University places this year as a result.

Head of Youth John Bastian explained:   “This qualification is aimed at those athletes with proven ability or the potential to play at the highest level .”

From Tiny Acorns comes Oakes

U19 Centre Ross Oakes was the recipient of the BullBuilder player of the month award for July which was awarded last weekend.  The young centre has had some standout games for the academy and been rewarded with selection in the first team squad this season.      Ross commented: “It’s down to hard work and determination and the help of my teammates working for each other.”     Ross is one of six U19s rewarded with a first team contract for 2017.  “I’ll be working hard in pre-season and will be aiming to get in the starting 17.”

His sponsors , grandparents, Maureen and Geoff Hammond said “The U19s have been doing very well this season and it’s down to determination and hard work.  The coaching staff led by John Bastian and his team have done a brilliant job and brought the best out of the players and got them playing as a team.”

John Bastian said “Ross probably under achieved last year and when Matt Diskin and I discussed his progress in 2015 we weren’t sure about him.  He was offered a basic contract and under put under no illusions as to what he had to do to succeed.   He could’ve walked away and sulked but instead he came back for pre-season in really good shape and was almost like a different person.  He’s worked very hard and shown very good application and attitude which has been recognised by ourselves and Rohan Smith. All credit to Ross.”

To find out more visit www.BullBuilder.co.ukRoss Oakes Ross Oakes2

BullBuilder Raises Formal Complaint/s

People will be aware of additional charges that Featherstone Rovers are imposing on supporters attending Sunday’s fixture against the Bradford Bulls.

BullBuilder on behalf of supporters has raised formal complaint/s with the RFL in regard to this matter, these were delivered in person today.

If and when any response is received this will be shared on the BullBuilder website.

BullBuilder to fund bid for Outstanding Status

BullBuilder to fund bid for Outstanding Status

BullBuilder is to help fund new efforts to help the clubs Academy side work towards achieving “outstanding” status in next year’s RFL accreditation reviews.

After achieving a “good” marking this year Head of Youth John Bastian is aiming high for 2017 and has engaged the help of 4 Capacities – an Improvement and Leadership Development company to help produce a development plan for the Academy.

John Bastian said “4 Capacities will be coming to the Bulls to help us produce a development plan to help identify how we can improve from being “good” to “outstanding”.    I feel it’s important to keep striving to improve so we’ll be doing our utmost to improve over the next 12 months.   I’d like to thank BullBuilder and all its members for their financial contribution which will help us make this happen.”

BullBuilder spokesman Paul Butterworth said:  “Many of the clubs with Academies that were rated as outstanding have significantly bigger budgets than the Bulls.   It shows the quality and commitment of the staff here that they received a “good” rating.      John Bastian and his team now want to kick on and target an “outstanding” rating.   BullBuilder is keen to help them do that wherever we can.”

If you would like to join BullBuilder or find out more visit www.BullBuilder.co.uk

BullBuilder catches up with Bentley

BullBuilder caught up with U19 player of the month James Bentley last week.  BullBuilder spokesman Paul Buttterworth put the questions:

When and why did you choose the Bulls Academy?

In my second year, joined from Oulton Raiders which is between Leeds and Wakefield.  I chose the Bulls because of the excellent staff and the facilities.

What are your ambitions in Rugby League?

I want to make the first team at the Bulls, represent England and I would like to play in NRL some day.

How do you feel BullBuilder contributes and benefits the Academy?

The efforts of BullBuilder are very very beneficial, in terms of equipment, facilities that allow our development and performance.  The player of the month awards are a great motivator for the players.

BB under 19 pom

BullBuilder Race Night Supports Diet of Success

BullBuilder has again been hard at work recently raising funds for the U16s and U19s.  A four figure sum was raised at the BullBuilder Race Night at Odsal on 22 June.

The evening was well attended with members of the U19s present along with Marc Green, Steve Ferres, Rohan Smith, Matt Diskin, John Bastian and the BullBuilder team.  In total over 100 people attended and had fun betting on a number of races including a pig race to round the evening off.   One family even had a birthday cake presented by Bulls hooker Adam O’Brien.

Both Bulls Chairman Marc Green and Head of Youth John Bastian made speeches in support of BullBuilder.  John Bastian said “Once again BullBuilder have come up trumps and held an enjoyable and professional evening’s entertainment.    I’m very pleased with the turnout and would like to thank BullBuilder and the supporters that attended for their support.”

BullBuilder spokesman Paul Butterworth said “These events are a fun way of raising money for the U16s and U19s and we’re very pleased with how this event went.  Our race nights always attract a good crowd and allow supporters to mix with players and officials.  We’ve raised in the region of £2000 which will go towards those extras for the U16s and U19s that will help give them the edge.”

“I’d like to thank everyone who attended for showing their support and also Amanda Keal and her team who made everyone feel welcome on the night.  A great time was had by all and it was a good opportunity for supporters to meet our young players and for them to be the focal point of the event.   Many of these players could be in the first team squad next year so supporting events like this gives us a chance to make them feel part of the Bulls family as well as raising money to help their development.”

BullBuilder hope to provide diet of success

BullBuilder have teamed up with the club to help fund the provision of diet and nutrition plans and recipes for the U19s.     Money raised thanks to supporter subscriptions has helped pay for a qualified nutritionist from Manchester University to provide personalised plans for each player.

BullBuilder spokesman Paul Fisher explained “These personalised plans provide information tailored for each player on general diet and nutritional requirements along with pre match preparation and post training and match recovery.   Recipes are provided too.   Players have always realised they need to eat healthily but these plans take things to another level.”

If you would like to join BullBuilder or find out more visit www.BullBuilder.co.uk