Exiles camps give Welsh qualified players another option
17 February 2017 16:35
By Liz Jones
More than 300 players took part in three WRU Exiles camps this week
More than 300 welsh qualified boys between 13 and 18 took part in three training camps around England this week.
The Welsh Exiles camps, at Trent College, Nottingham. London Welsh and Prior Park College, Bath, were organised as part of a strategic effort to connect with Welsh families outside Wales, develop skills and provide a pathway for players into the Welsh age grade system.
WRU Group Chief Executive Martyn Phillips said: "We know that we are a small nation so our focus is on providing quality within our coaching, our pathway and events like this.
"We want to connect with Welsh families living outside Wales - you will often find that Welsh people living in England migrate to the local rugby club - and hopefully identify some players who could come through and play rugby in Wales.
"We're certainly not poaching players. The players at the camps this week have every right to play for Wales and we're just making sure they have that option."
Former Sale Sharks and Dragons head coach Paul Turner, who identifies and recruits Welsh qualified players outside Wales as part of the WRU Exiles programme is pleased with the outcome of the camps so far.
"It's only a start but the camps this week and the enthusiasm of the families and players gives an idea of the Welsh qualified players in England alone at the moment.
"There's always been a database of Welsh Exiles but if we can consolidate that with a quality programme of events and raise the profile of the opportunities available, we will certainly reap the benefits in years to come."
Gareth Keyte, from Pontardawe but now living in Worcester, welcomes the opportunity the camps have provided for his son Matthew. "We were notified of the opportunity by Matthew's rugby club - Worcester - and I think it's a fantastic opportunity for the kids to get some quality coaching over and above their club rugby. All the boys aspire to be the best they can, he's taken a lot from it. The message is clear from these camps - 'you might not get to play for Wales but we'll make you the best player you can be', which is an exciting prospect for all young players."
WRU Exiles Programme Manager Gareth Davies added, "We have a number of Exiles within the Wales U18 programme at the moment, some are now with regions and Wales U20 and we have fantastic links with Welsh Universities. Regardless of standard, our aim is to engage with all Welsh qualified players and help them to maximise their potential."
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