Following selection for the four Regional Academies, the elite players underwent a staggered return to pre-season training due to enforced recovery periods following end of season commitments, such as the IRB U21 World Championship. Through the summer the players have undergone intense conditioning and skills training in preparation for the season ahead. All training has been tailored to each player's specific needs depending on their age, needs analysis and the forthcoming season's schedule.
All players have been subjected to full-scale analysis sessions under the watchful eye of their Academy Managers, skills and conditioning coaches. From these sessions the coaches have designed bespoke training schedules.
Other key areas that have been addressed are nutrition, personal development and education. The Academy structure has begun to provide individual support in each of these areas to ensure the players' needs are fully met.
Many of the Academy members have returned to full-time education this month and, as a result, their skills and conditioning sessions will become more localised so as not to unnecessarily disrupt their school day. In some cases this has led to coaches traveling to schools and colleges to provide support and training.
For those players who are involved in Youth, ASDA League, Principality Premiership and even regional rugby, their performances are being constantly monitored by Academy Managers, Skills and Conditioning coaches. Feedback from these monitoring processes is then given to the players and used to adapt their training and skills programmes.
In addition to the 72 core Academy members, each Academy has a number of 'junior' and 'senior' players on their books. The junior Academy players are those who have been identified as future, mainstream members and are mainly aged U16.
Among the 'senior' players added to the Academies are Aled Brew and Andrew Bishop at the Ospreys, both of who are Wales U21 caps who have featured regularly in the Celtic League this season, and Scarlets wing Darren Daniels. They get their conditioning and skills services from the Regional coaches, but are provided pastoral and educational support through the academy.
The Welsh Women's Rugby Union are in the process of selecting around 20 girls to form their National Academy as another vital part of the 'Welsh Rugby Industry' project.
Sophie Bennett has been appointed as the WWRU National Academy Coordinator and UWIC's David Watts and Ryan Harris have been made fitness consultants for the academy. The girls will follow the same programmes of support as the boys and will have the same level of access to the national skills coaches. The final selection for the WWRU National Academy will be made after the National Squad's trial weekend at the Welsh Institute of Sport on the first weekend of October.