WRU announce world class centre of excellence for Welsh rugby
30 October 2008 10:26am
A two million pound Centre of Excellence boasting the best national team preparation facilities in world rugby has been unveiled by the Welsh Rugby Union.
The state-of-the-art facility will involve a major expansion of the current base used by the national team at the Vale Hotel, Golf and Spa Resort in Hensol near Llantrisant.
The Indoor Arena, and the office accommodation will now be used to exclusively house Welsh Rugby Union teams and backroom staff, while three, new, full size pitches will be laid for exclusive use of Welsh Rugby Union teams, along with two half pitches and a new artificial, 3G pitch inside the Indoor Arena.
The development is the result of a three way partnership, with investment from the Welsh Rugby Union, Leekes, the owners of the Vale Resort, and the Sports Council for Wales who have allocated a £1.5 million National Lottery grant into the project.
Although the current location is already the training base for the Wales squad, the facilities are shared and some grass training sessions are held off site, for example at the Welsh Institute of sport, Cardiff.
Work on installing an upgraded gymnasium inside the centre has already started and is in use during the preparation for the Invesco Perpetual Series. Work will begin immediately on a full renovation of the administrative facilities and the installation of all the new pitches which will be complete in 2009.
Welsh Rugby Union Group Chief Executive Roger Lewis, said: "We are creating a Centre of Excellence which will truly be the envy of the rugby world. This will take Wales to the forefront of the professional game when it comes to providing the facilities needed to achieve success at international level.
"We were determined to make sure that the players of the present and the future have every chance of upholding the proud tradition and history of Welsh international rugby in the professional era as the game develops.
"Any young player who walks through the doors of this Centre of Excellence will not fail to be inspired by the sporting environment they will be entering. The quality of the facilities and the range of expertise and skill represented in the staff based at the centre will be unmatched anywhere in either hemisphere.
"I am very proud that the Welsh Rugby Union has been able to deliver this project and I am immensely grateful to the Sports Council of Wales, and in particular Phil Carling, Huw Jones and Helen Adams for their support and advice throughout the process which has led us to today. I would also like to personally thank Gerald Leeke and his team for helping to turn our vision into a reality.
"It has taken a colossal amount of effort to achieve this, but the benefit to Welsh rugby will be evident down the generations to come."
The Sports Minister Alun Ffred Jones said:
"This is an exciting project for Welsh rugby and I wish the WRU every success in taking it forward. The facilities that are planned will clearly benefit Wales's international rugby teams and I'm pleased that the partners in the project, the WRU, the Sports Council for Wales and the Vale Resort, have been able to work together to set this project in motion."
WRU Chairman, David Pickering, added: "We will now boast a Centre of Excellence that everyone involved in Welsh rugby can be truly proud of. It will offer generations of talented young men and women the opportunity to achieve their true international potential.
"I am well aware of the dedication and hard work needed to become a Welsh international and we are determined to nurture and develop all our elite players.
Wales Head Coach Warren Gatland said: "Environment is so important to a successful team and having every possible training surface on our doorstep will make a huge difference to our match preparation in the future."
Phil Davies, current Wales Under 20 head coach said, "It is so important that all the international teams representing Wales at rugby get constant exposure to the right people using the right equipment and the most modern techniques. Our potential, future professional rugby players will gain a huge amount from the use of this facility."
Philip Carling, Chair of the Sports Council for Wales said: "Through National Lottery funding, the Sports Council for Wales has been able to transform the sporting landscape in Wales. As well as community projects across Wales, it has also been able to put into place a network of key national and regional facilities.
"The national Centre of Excellence for rugby will now add to the growing portfolio which also includes the Wales National Pool, the Wales National Velodrome, national and regional centres across a number of sports such as athletics, swimming and golf. The facility will impact on the success of the national team which is vitally important to national pride."
Managing Director of the Vale Resort Stephen Leeke said: "We have been working in close partnership with the WRU since 1999. Investing in our nation's sporting excellence is something that we believe in and wholly support both from a family and commercial point of view.
"We can now go forward with our long term lease agreement with the WRU and this facility will provide sports teams with a range of training facilities which cannot be found anywhere else in the UK.
"In fact it is our belief that this competes with any other major training facilities in Europe and possibly in the world. This easily establishes the Vale as the UK's version of La Manga.
"This is a world class partnership to support Welsh rugby and the Welsh team and confirms the vision of the Leekes family to support Welsh sporting teams."
WRU Centre of Excellence
• A full size, floodlit, 3G artificial pitch to IRB standard which means outdoor full contact training can take place in all weathers.
• A second full size grass pitch will also be floodlit and there will be a third international standard pitch for exclusive use by the senior squad.
• Alongside these full size pitches, two half pitches will be laid so that technical skills such as kicking, line-outs or scrummaging can be practised outside full team sessions.
• Inside the Indoor Arena, it is aimed that a new artificial pitch will be laid to the same standard as the outside 3G facility which means full contact training and player rehabilitation can take place indoors.
Under the new plan the centre will be an exclusive Welsh Rugby Union training base dedicated to ensuring match preparation will not be hampered by reliance on shared facilities.
Rugby development staff relocation to the Centre of Excellence will be complete by the summer of 2009. To ensure all of Welsh rugby development is aligned through the work at the centre there will be hot desk facilities for WRU Regional Performance Development Managers and Regional Community Managers to share the facility as required.
The WRU has launched a campaign to create a long term legacy for Welsh club rugby by highlighting the advantages of volunteering. Rhian Edwards, a volunteer at Seven Sisters, has enjoyed many benefits of her volunteering at a grassroots rugby club including being part of the Rugby World Cup volunteer workforce after being nominated by the WRU - and the WRU is asking for more people to develop their 'Welsh rugby roots'.
Wales head coach Warren Gatland and captain Sam Warburton say their first prioirty on Sunday in the opening game of the World Cup is to win against Uruguay and not get overly concerned with points difference.
With only days to go until the biggest rugby competition in the world begins, rugby fans visiting Cardiff this autumn will be able to enjoy a special display at National Museum Cardiff as part of the celebrations surrounding the Rugby World Cup.
Geraint John has taken up the new role of WRU elite coach development manager having arrived in Wales last week. WRU TV caught up with him at the WRU rugby department's strategy day at the Millennium Stadium.
The entire Welsh Rugby Union Rugby Department gathered at the Millennium Stadium earlier this week where WRU Head of Rugby Josh Lewsey looked back on a year where structural and strategic changes have seen significant progress made
The Welsh Rugby Union has released a specially produced video to spearhead a new campaign to help promote the values of rugby union. The video, entitled Let us Play underpins the WRU rugby department's philosophy - to engage, transfer and retain players, coaches and referees.