TALENTED players from the Keighley district have been shining lights in Craven College’s rugby academy.

They are part of the under-19 team who came agonisingly close to winning the Yorkshire Plate, only to lose 30-28 to Castleford High School in the final.

Among the team are Alfie Seeley and Sam Wilkin, who have both been awarded contracts with Keighley Cougars’ reserve grade.

Dean Muir, who is subject sector leader for sport at the college and also head coach of the Cougars reserves, is full of praise for the way the pair are developing.

On Seeley, who is an ex-Bradford Bull scholarship player and captain of the Craven College team, Muir said: “Alfie has worked hard on his physical presence over the winter and this has been a telling factor in us choosing to sign him for Keighley Cougars reserve grade.

“He has great fundamental skills and fantastic game awareness which allows him to execute plays and is a huge threat with ball in hand. He shows a willingness to go the extra mile which should see him make it to first grade.”

Seeley is a full back or half-back with a 95 per cent success rate at kicking goals this season, scoring six tries.

Prop Wilkin has also impressed his coach. Muir said: “Sam is top try scorer this year and is an extremely committed player. He has a great approach on and off the field.

“You can tell this by his physical presence. He is immensely powerful and a big unit. This makes him a handful in attack and defence. He has the ability to offload and this makes him a great weapon for me to have at this level. Sam is learning all the time and is one to watch for the future.”

The pupils are on the Skipton-based college’s BTEC extended diploma in sport development, coaching and fitness.

Other talent on the college’s rugby pathway includes Olek Pala and Connor Taylor.

Pala joined from Holy Family School and is a former Cougars scholarship player. The strong-running and aggressive second row is awaiting Polish trials and plays for Keighley Albion.

Taylor, a former Oakbank School pupil, also plays for Albion as centre or winger. The pacy youngster has scored six tries this season, including the current try of the year in the 28-0 win over Thomas Rotherham College.

Muir added: “This is the type of talent we have in the college’s rugby academy.

“We promote excellence in both academic and playing performance. I am so proud of the lads for achieving this.”