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.
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.
In the first 'Pick and Go' podcast of the season, WRU TV looks ahead to the Principality Premiership. We chat to WRU Head of Performance Geraint John, Carmarthen Quins head coach Richard Kelly, Merthyr's head coach Lee Jarvis and get the opinions of journalists Chris Kirwan and Ioan Dyer as the new season prepares to kick off this weekend.
RGC 1404's new head coach Mark Jones is hoping to build 'something special' in north Wales and is already looking forward to the development region participating in the Principality Premiership for the very first time.
A joint venture between the WRU and Admiral saw hundreds of children enjoy the Admiral Festival of Rugby held at the National Centre of Excellence at the weekend where Welsh internationals Sam Warburton, Scott Williams and Rob Evans were in attendance.
The WRU is searching for 12 new rugby development apprentices following a successful first year of its WRU Coach Core programme. Craig Duncan and Jess Hancock have flourished in the first year of the programme which has given them a real direction in their lives.
The WRU signed TV comedian Rhod Gilbert up to a 'Coaching Children Level 1' course before letting him loose on an U8s side at Whitland Junior Borderers - we went behind the scenes to film the making of 'Rhod Gilbert's Work Experience' see the results here.
Llandovery are aiming to make it three titles in a row in this year's Foster's National 7s being held at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park on Sunday 28 August. Drovers assistant coach Simon Davies and Lee Rees assess their sides chances