The money from the Sports Council for Wales has been made available to the WRU from National Lottery funds and will be applied in the following way:
- Â£1.5m to the National Academy in Bridgend, which will also house the Celtic Warriors Academy;
- Â£500,000 to Nash College for the Gwent Dragons Regional Academy;
- Â£500,000 to Llandarcy Park for the Neath/Swansea Regional Academy;
- Â£500,000 to support Academies in the Cardiff Blues and Llanelli Scarlets Regions.
The news comes hot on the heels of an in principal agreement reached by the WRU for Objective 1 European match funding of more than Â£4m over three years which will play a vital part in the training and development of key coaching and administrative personnel who will be responsible for the training of all the coaches players and referees within the rugby industry. All in all, it amounts to the start of the biggest coaching and training revolution Welsh rugby has experienced since Ray Williams launched his world renowned coaching courses in the 1970s.
"Only last week we were able to announce that our National Academy at Island Farm, Bridgend, has been given all the necessary clearance for work to start and we are due to sign heads of terms with the developers and the Bridgend County Borough Council to get that project underway very shortly," said WRU Group Chief Executive David Moffett.
"While the plans for Island Farm are to create a centre of excellence that will be available to all national teams, regardless of age and gender, the money being offered by the Sports Council for Wales from National Lottery funds will also help us to set-up full blown Academy structures for our new regional sides in their own area which will benefit players of all ages within their region.
"This is the most radical shake-up of coaching, training, development and facilities Welsh rugby has experienced in over 30 years and heralds a new era of partnership between the WRU and the Sports Council for Wales.
The funding earmarked for the WRU by the Sports Council for Wales still has to be formally applied for by the Union, although their overall, outline plans have received approval. The first official submissions, for funding for Nash College and Llandarcy Park, is expected to be considered in September.
Discussions are currently on-going with the Cardiff and Llanelli Regions to find the most suitable sites for their Academies. Coleg Sir Gar, Llanelli, is already used extensively by the WRU for developmental purposes and is in-line to become the centre for the Llanelli Academy.
"The Academy programme is ready to be rolled out in September in all Regions with or without the facilities. The hope is that we will have identified the two remaining sites by September and that within two years every centre will be up and running to its full capacity," said the WRU Director of Rugby, Terry Cobner.
"Within these centres all the elite young players from age 12 to the Academy starting age of 16 will be developed. There will be two coaches for each age group team and once the players are admitted into the formal Academy they will benefit from special technical, tactical and conditioning coaching.
"The criteria that will be put on entry into the Regional Academies will be that the coaches believe the players have the ability to play for the regional team within two to three years."
There will be 60 'rugby champions' working within the five Academies once they are fully staffed. They will deliver a service that will be monitored by recognised NVQ industrial standards.
"The aim is to get these 60 rugby champions trained to deliver a much better service to all age groups than has been achievable up to now. They will bring a level of quality control into the system that will conform to NVQ standards which will be a first for the rugby industry in the UK," added Cobner.
"We have been working extremely hard to pull the threads together on this project and with the backing of the Sports Council for Wales, the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO), Education and Learning Wales (ELWA) and the Lottery funding, we are on the verge of a new age in Welsh rugby."