Hemel Stags have entered into a groundbreaking partnership with Kingstone Press Championship club Dewsbury Rams.
They will move their training base to the Rams’ Tetley’s Stadium home and both sets of players will train together, three evenings a week.
The two clubs’ coaching and playing staff will be integrated, though the Stags will retain their identity and autonomy, and continue to play their home games at Pennine Way in Hemel Hempstead.
The news coincides with the start of work on new sporting facilities at The Tetley’s Stadium, which includes the construction of a second full-size playing area immediately adjacent to the stadium, to be completed ahead of the 2017 season.
Two further all-weather, multi-sport surfaces will be added within the stadium grounds.
Stags ended a disappointing 2016 campaign with a 22-12 home defeat to Coventry Bears in the Kingstone Shield on Sunday.
Hemel Stags CEO Bob Brown said: “After winning the Rugby League Conference National Grand Final in 2012 we joined League 1, which was very much a development league, and appropriate for our aspirations.
“And making the play-offs in 2013 and 2014 confirmed that was it was the right decision.
“In 2015 League 1 became a performance league, with the addition of five former Championship clubs.
“In 2016 Toulouse joined the League making it even tougher, while the addition of Toronto in 2017 will present further challenges.
“This season we launched a deliberate strategy to recruit community and student players from within our local catchment area.
“But despite having between 35 and 45 players regularly in pre-season training it soon became clear that the step up from Community Rugby League in the South to League 1 was premature for many of the players.
“The move to Dewsbury will give the Stags access to a much more professional environment, in which to develop their playing and coaching personnel, while placing the club close to a large pool of experienced Rugby League players.”
Meanwhile, the Stags will continue with their impressive community development programme in Hemel Hempstead and throughout Hertfordshire led by Community Manager Mike Stewart.
Hemel have also appointed Ben Stead to a full-time community role to expand the club’s schools, minis, junior and open age programmes.