HEWORTH ARLC have been accepted back into amateur rugby league’s flagship competition, the National Conference League.

The Villagers – who were one of the 10 founder members of the then National League – withdrew from the competition in 2015 but, after a period of rebuilding in the Yorkshire Men's League, applied to rejoin towards the end of last season.

And the club have now confirmed that NCL rugby will return to Elm Park Way for 2019, 32 years after the Black and Whites won the inaugural season.

Head coach Scott Rhodes said: “It’s nice for the club. Behind the scenes, the club have put a lot of work in to get back into the league and everybody’s over the moon about it.

“It’s the place to be in testing yourself against teams from all over the country and you get more interest in playing in that league.

“It’s the place I want to be, testing myself against the best. The players have to be stronger and more committed but there’s a lot of improvement (to be made) in our team. They’re a young side, so that’s not a problem.

“We’ve still got to go and perform and play. I’ll have to up my game as a coach and they will have to up their games as players, but I was speaking to some of the lads and we said it’s where we want to be.”

Heworth decided to put the bid in during a barnstorming Yorkshire Men’s League division one campaign last season, where they topped the table with 33 points from a possible 36 and went on to win the play-offs.

They will enter the NCL on the lowest rung, in division three, along with Batley Boys and Hensingham. Neighbours York Acorn currently play in division one.

Heworth have also enjoyed good growth off the field, with around 225 youngsters expected to come through the ranks of under-7s through to U18s, for whom a new academy will start next year.

Rhodes said: “We exceeded all expectations last season so we made the decision to go for it.

“Heworth is a fantastic little club, it’s brilliantly run, has a strong committee and fantastic facilities, and it’s getting better. It’s expanding and it’s great down there at the minute.

“We deserve to be there (in the NCL).

“We’ll have to work our way up but we’ll see how it goes next year. There’s a lot of potential in the team.

“We’re just looking forward to it.”

Club secretary Ken Sykes, who was part of the 1986-87 league-winning team, added: "It’s a bit of an unknown - we’re not sure what the level of the other clubs is. We’re going into it with optimism as we start to get ourselves where we used to be.

"We were a force to be reckoned with, but our fortunes dipped after that.

"It’s the best league in the amateur game. When we came out, we thought we had made the right decision, and we still feel we did, but hopefully this is the right time to get back in.

"We feel we have got a structure that will sustain us and we think we have got the timing right, but only time will tell. We certainly feel we are going to progress further.

"We’ll see how we go and where it takes us."

Anyone interested in joining the U18s academy should email heworthrl@gmail.com or open-age coach Rhodes at scottrhodes@live.co.uk or contact the club via Facebook or Twitter.