THE youth and minis development programme at Wharfedale is bearing fruit as a number of players and teams have had success this season.

The Wharfedale Colts recently beat Old Northamptonians 25-12 in the fourth round of the Colts National Cup competition.

The victory sends them through to the quarter-finals of the Colts National Cup on Sunday, March 31, when they will play Kettering away.

Before that, the Wharfedale Colts play in the final of the Yorkshire Colts Cup this Sunday.

The same team won the Yorkshire Under-17s Cup last year.

"They're as strong an age group as we've had in long time," said Wharfedale development officer Hedley Verity. "It's also comfortably as far as we've ever been in the National Colts Cup competition.

The team is coached by former Wharfedale player Andy Hodgson. His son Ryan Hodgson is one of the team members, and Ryan and fellow team member Sam Dickinson have both been selected to play this season in the North of England Under-18s side.

Dickinson has also been selected to play in the Yorkshire Carnegie Academy squad this season.

Verity added: "The core of the Wharfedale Colts team Andy has coached since they were under-six. They're all local lads and are a good bunch."

The Wharfedale youth and minis programme has also had some other youngsters who have featured in representative teams this season.

Ben McParland, who plays in the Wharfedale Under-15s, was captain of the Yorkshire Under-15s team who beat Staffordshire 66-0 on Sunday at Wheatley Hills.

McParland, a pupil at Ermysted's Grammar School, was also one of the try scorers.

Verity said that McParland, who has been at Wharfedale at least five years, is involved in the England Rugby Developing Player Programme.

Other Wharfedale youngsters who have also been selected in representative squads this season include Alfie Weston, who has been selected for the Yorkshire Under-16s, and Jake Saggers, who has featured in the Lancashire Under-17s side.

At a higher level, Tom Mann, a Wharfedale first team member, was recently selected to play for the Yorkshire Under-20s team.

Wharfedale first team coach John Feeley said: "The development of the younger players at Wharfedale underpins everything that we do.

"Many of the senior team members will have been juniors at some point, so the work of the juniors and minis is good for our first team."

He said that players, such as Ryan Hodgson and Dickinson, could be called into the first team as soon as next season, but he added that bigger clubs and university teams could also be after their services.

But he added: "They've worked hard to deserve those opportunities."