First year students Jacob Lee and Joe Coope-Franklin, who are both on sports scholarships at UCLan, play for the Red Devil’s Reserves and stepped up to the first team for a testimonial game against Warrington Wolves.
Sport and exercise science student Jacob, who plays prop or back row, even scored a try in the game.
The 19-year-old from Caerphilly in South Wales said: “Making my first team debut was such an incredible experience. It is something I will never forget, and I hope I am able to make many more in the future.
“I take great pride in playing for the reserves as it provides a pathway to playing Super League and gives me an opportunity to do it with such a great club.”
Sports coaching and performance student, Joe, 20, from Oakdale in South Wales, added: “Making my debut for the first team was brilliant and playing in front of a crowd in a professional rugby league stadium felt amazing.
“My parents travelled from Wales to watch and some of my UCLan teammates came along to support me which made it even more special.”
Both students have represented Wales in the sport after studying and playing rugby league at the Welsh Rugby League National Development Academy at Coleg y Cymoedd.
They were spotted by the Red Devils during national training camps and their performances within the Wales international pathway programme.
Jacob and Joe also play for the UCLan Men’s Rugby League Team, and benefit from additional support through the UCLan sports scholarship scheme.
As gold level scholars, they receive up to £5,000 every academic year plus a package worth around £2,000 that includes free sports facility membership, physiotherapy, strength and conditioning and lifestyle, nutrition and psychological support.
UCLan Rugby League Head Performance Coach Amanda Wilkinson, who helped to secure their University scholarships, said: “Joe and Jacob are a pleasure to coach and are developing well as Salford and UCLan players. To make a step up to the First Team is a fantastic achievement and I look forward to seeing them progress.”