The Welsh Rugby Union has made an offer to all secondary schools in Wales to part fund a full-time School Rugby Officer dedicated to the provision of rugby to boys and girls of all ages and abilities within the school.
In addition, the WRU will facilitate the schools' competition structure, with the introduction of Regional Schools Leagues to underpin the hugely successful and high profile WRU Under 18 Wednesday League. The Union will also provide supporting resource, deliver consistent Continued Professional Development and offer coach development advice to the appointed Schools Rugby Officers.
Since making the provisional offer last week, the WRU has received positive feedback from many schools and over 40 schools have already made an expression of interest in taking up the offer.
WRU Head of Rugby Josh Lewsey said: "The aim of the WRU School Partnership Initiative is to have a profound effect on Welsh society through the medium of its national sport. The values that are intrinsic to rugby, such as teamwork, respect and discipline help to support the development of 'good citizens' as well as supporting young people in achieving within a school environment.
"Evidence clearly demonstrates that delivering effective rugby programmes with dedicated staff can make a real difference to pupils' academic success as well as developing good and healthy citizens. This initiative also simultaneously delivers the WRU's aims with regards to both Elite and Community Rugby."
In addition to delivering rugby options throughout the school, the Rugby Officer will also be tasked with the transfer, communication and interface with local clubs. The WRU will oversee and reinforce this process, as it is vitally important to maintain the good habits fostered in a disciplined environment and also retain participants in the game for the long term benefit of our communities.
There are many examples where our existing schools programmes have been directly attributed with the "cultural and academic turnaround" of a school's performance. At Newport High School, where the school part funded the employment of Dai Flanagan as its Rugby Programme Coordinator, the consequences have been astounding.
Nathan Williams, Deputy Head at the school said, "The pupils on the rugby programme have become role models for all the other children. A few years ago, we struggled to get teams together in some year groups but some evenings now we have several hundred pupils taking part in various sports after school.
"From an academic point of view, we know that a third of our senior team players wouldn't have continued in education without the rugby programme we offer. Now, they will go on to have a career as they have had a good educational grounding along with specialist support for their rugby development."
Cowbridge Comprehensive School head teacher Debra Thomas, who has Matt Silva WRU development officer on secondment as their Rugby Coordinator said: "The initiative has been a resounding success for us and the appointment of a dedicated rugby coordinator has been key to that success. The 'academy' brings a sense of excitement to the school and adds a positive dimension to sport and fitness across the school."
Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera appointed a Director of Rugby last September as part of their WRU School of Rugby status, and the school has already reaped the benefit.
Head Teacher Matthew Evans said: "As a school we have seen the real value of this rugby pilot in developing the self-confidence of boys and girls in rugby, but it also contributes towards their confidence within the whole school community as they contribute to extra-curricular activity.
"It has helped develop skills in the Welsh language and enhanced pupils' progress in their academic and vocational courses. Simply and succinctly, developing an individual's skills in one area can have a transformational impact on that pupil's attitude towards their school, their education and their personal development."
The WRU funding and appointment of individuals will be subject to schools agreeing to and meeting a set of strict criteria and targets relating to areas such as participation levels; performance and development standards; facilities, and the liaison with local clubs.
The second WRU disability rugby pilot has been delivered, this time in Caerphilly schools, culminating in a festival at the Caerphilly Centre of Sporting Excellence, Ystrad Mynach tomorrow. Plans are in place to set up a Disability Rugby Club in Newbridge to provide long-term playing opportunities.
Girls in North Wales have two great rugby role models in WRU Regional Coordinator Rachel Taylor and Rhyl High School Hub Officer Ale Lewis, both helping to increase opportunities for women and girls in Welsh rugby.
In this weeks podcast, Bargoed captain Leigh Meades and Swansea head coach Richard Lancaster chat to WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie who hears that both camps are determined to move up the Principality Premiership table.
One of the newest members of the Principality Premiership, Bargoed admit it's proving to be a steep learning curve at the highest level, but are determined to become a force to be reckoned with. WRU TV visited the club last weekend when they took on Llanelli.
This week on the Pick and Go Podcast, WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie is joined by South Wales Argus rugby writer Chris Kirwan to preview this weekend's Principality Premiership action. Aberavon winger Steffan Andrews also makes an appearance.
Table-topping Aberavon travel to north Wales to tackle RGC 1404 as both teams defend unbeaten starts to the season in the Principality Premiership. WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie visited the Wizards to see how their preparations were going for the game of the weekend.
This week in the Principality Premiership, all roads lead to the new pitch at Sardis Road where Pontypridd take on Merthyr in the most highly anticipated game of the season. WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie previews the big clash, along with all the other Premiership games this weekend, with guest Ioan Dyer.
The Half a Game initiative is currently sweeping across Wales and proving a major success. The scheme aims to give every young player at least half a game every weekend. WRU TV recently visited a festival in Narberth where clubs have fully embraced the initiative.
Both Bargoed and Swansea were seeking their first win of the Principality Premiership season this afternoon. It proved a fruitful day for the hosts - not only did they win, but Bargoed claimed a try bonus point.
Cardiff managed to keep their unbeaten record at home intact, but only just as Bridgend made them work extremely hard before the Blue and Blacks secured a hard fought Principality Premiership win at the BT Sport Arms Park last night.
Former Wales back row Andy Powell gives a guided tour of The Wern, home of Merthyr RFC, who are determined to prove a lot of people wrong and make their mark in their first season in the Principality Premiership.
The Welsh Rugby Union is calling on all grassroots clubs to nominate a club integrity officer who will be invited to anti-doping awareness workshops and receive information in order to educate their players and coaches