The new seasonal structure will help all levels of rugby development in Wales
WRU Head of Rugby Josh Lewsey has revealed a pioneering rugby pathway system to reinvigorate Welsh rugby following his review into the game
The basis of this is a new, aligned, seasonal structure that has been designed to allow school, club and representative rugby to flourish simultaneously whilst also providing the content of a detailed development curriculum within it.
The time that junior and youth players can train and play with their clubs and schools of origin is now greatly increased, with more concise, clearly defined training and playing blocks for district, regional and international representative rugby.
This model should provide a more effective interface between the elite and community game and help to address some of the issues faced currently by schools, clubs and representative groups all vying for players' time concurrently. Equally the emphasis is to provide guidance on both playing and coaching philosophies so that the appropriate development is delivered at the necessary age with a large focus on core skills and the values of the game.
Lewsey said, "There are two focuses. One is to reinforce the cultural attractiveness of our game. The second is to build an efficient system which maximises the efforts of people across Wales, thus helping to underpin both elite and community rugby. In creating a seasonal structure that allows players to train and play with their friendship groups for a larger part of the season, it is hoped that more players will be retained within the game, benefitting players, clubs and schools, while also providing ample opportunity for the delivery of elite performance programmes.
"One of the pinch points that came out of the review was the transfer between schools and clubs and the need to ensure a smooth pathway back into the community game for those that drop out of the elite spectrum in order not to lose those players altogether, and the new seasonal structure will form part of an overall system which will hopefully begin to greatly improve that relationship."
Players, parents and coaches will be made fully aware of the accompanying philosophies and the age specific objectives as supporting material is made available from the Union which emphasises developing a love of the game, building confidence and self-esteem in the early years, and gradually introduces the various elements of the game such as the tackle, the offload, the line-out and scrum while placing an increased priority on challenging with the ball in hand.
Lewsey added, "It is vital to create a direct link between our national team and grass roots rugby and therefore we have worked closely with Warren and the national coaching team to ensure the content of the skills and development curriculum is applicable at every level, imparts the best possible advice from world class coaches and provides a more qualitative foundation for our future internationals."
As the emphasis is also on creating cultural role models and intelligent players, the pathway has been designed to support the academic timetable, mindful of the need to develop good rounded people not purely good athletes.
"This is the first step in a long term process and while we are well aware that we don't have a magic wand, it's certainly a step in the right direction and we are convinced these changes will have a positive effect on the sustainability of Welsh rugby.
"We are working closely with Sport Wales to achieve our joint aspiration of getting every child hooked on sport."
The season structure has now been sent to all clubs and affiliated organisations, and more information, including supporting material will follow in the coming weeks.
The annual Women's club launch was held at the Wales Centre of Excellence where National Women's Head Coach and Programme Lead Rhys Edwards, Competition Secretary Adrian Howell and Cardiff Met player Ffion Jones express eagerness for the new campaign to get under way.
Plenty of award winners in this week's Principality Welsh Rugby Union Podcast.Dragons centre Tyler Morgan wins one of the top awards for up and coming talent with the SportingWales Rising Stars 2015 award. Scarlets and Wales outside half Hannah Jones is one of the runners-up. We also he from community clubs as the season approaches and Principality Premiership unsung hero Ron Taylor of Ebbw Vale.
Actor and Millennium Stadium Tour Guide Gareth Bale has been performing his one-man play about Wales rugby legend Ray Gravell across Wales. He chats to WRU TV before taking his show to the Edinburgh Festival.
After widespread consultation, the WRU has made major changes to its pathway programme for girls rugby with a spring and summer season being introduced with immediate effect in order to respond to a clear demand to play the game.
The Webb Ellis Cup visited Lampeter on Monday to recognise the fact that the town is celebrating a major milestone as it is believed the first ever game of rugby played in Wales, was in fact played in Lampeter 150 years ago.
We cover the big news the 2017 Champions League Final will be coming to the Millennium Stadium, in this week's Principality Welsh Rugby Union Podcast. We hear from FAW chief executive Jonathan Ford, First Minister Carwyn Jones and WRU group chief executive Roger Lewis. Wales coach Warren Gatland describes their high altitude training in Switzerland, national match officials manager Nigel Whitehouse talks about the community coaches and referees conference, while we have a special feature on Cardiff Blues U18 girls sevens squad preparing for their first Gemau Cymru, with some help from internationals Elinor Snowsill and Philippa Tuttiett.
Cardiff Blues U18 Girls will go into Sunday's Gemau Cymru with an extra spring in their step after Welsh internationals Elinor Snowsill and Philippa Tuttiett offered some last minute tips at a training session earlier this week.
Rob Howley and Josh Lewsey addressed more than 250 community club coaches and referees at the first WRU National Community Conference on the weekend. The volunteers benefitted from coaching masterclasses and workshops in a bid to connect all levels of the rugby pathway in Wales.
The winners of a filmmaking competition organised by the education charity Into Film and the WRU enjoyed a behind the scenes tour of the Millennium Stadium - and a chance to be photographed with the WRU's fire-breathing, rugby loving mascot, Scorch The Dragon, and Welsh international, Jake Ball.
Ebbw Vale coach Jason Strange is proud of his side's effort in against Pontypridd in the Principality Premiership final and as WRU TV's Liz Jones finds out, he's now looking forward to Wales' Under 20 campaign with confidence.
Principality Building Society has joined forces with the Welsh Rugby Union to offer every club in Wales the opportunity to reward their most cherished volunteers with tickets for Wales' Dove Men Test clash with Italy at the Millennium Stadium next weekend, Saturday 5th September 2015 (5.00pm).
A day of entertainment is promised during the Foster's National 7s at the BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park on Sunday 30 August, with games, fancy dress prizes and festive food and drink on offer as an added bonus alongside some fast and furious rugby.
Developing the game in Wales and creating a stable and progressive environment for players of the future
Taking the grass roots game out across the length and breadth of the nation, the SWALEC Leagues are the focus of the community rugby in Wales
SSE SWALEC Cup
The SSE SWALEC Cup, Plate and Bowl continue the legacy of the WRU Challenge Cup, culminating in a shot at glory at the Millennium Stadium
Women's Community Rugby embraces both the regional and community club game from Girls' Leagues through to the Women's Premier Division