Newport RFC has entered into a strategic partnership with the WRU and Dragons Junior Academy based at Newport High School which has resulted in the addition of specialist support for players over the next two years.
Newport RFC and Newport High School, through the WRU, have agreed a partnership that will enhance provision for players aged 16 - 18 who are enrolling on the new Junior Academy service at Newport High School. The partnership will create two part-time positions – a skills coach and conditioning coach - who will work with both players at the Junior Academy and players at Newport RFC.
The conditioning coach’s position will be filled by Gareth Smith with Newport player, Rhys Jenkins, the new skills coach. Funding for these two posts will be part provided by Friends of Newport Rugby (FoNR).
Secretary of FoNR, Kev Jarvis, said: “FoNR is pleased to contribute to this venture and we look forward to seeing young players developing and coming through the academy to play for Newport and possibly play professional rugby”.
The Junior Academy at Newport High is the second of its kind in the region and is based on the same successful model currently operating at Cross Keys College. Players selected for the Junior Academy are aged between 16-18 years and undertake their mainstream education with the Academy programme timetabled in daily around their academic commitments. The Junior Academy is headed by Dai Flanagan who, along with the two additional part time coaches, will deliver an individual rugby development programme in the areas of technical skills, tactical skills, physical and psychological development.
Dragons performance programme manager, James Chapron, commented: “We are committed to improving our Junior Academy programme year-on-year and for the service to replicate the staffing levels and programme delivery of the top tier Dragons Senior Academy. While Ryan Harris and Byron Hayward will continue their excellent work with the Elite Academy players on a daily basis based at Rodney Parade, these new appointments will strengthen the structure underpinning that tier by ensuring our Junior Academy players have every opportunity to develop into national age grade, senior academy and eventually professional rugby players.
“The newly formed partnership with Newport RFC will see a number of identified players within the Junior Academy fast tracked into the clubs Premiership and British and Irish Cup fixtures.”
Newport RFC head coach, Sven Cronk, added: ”The club recognises and supports the way that the Premiership is heading towards a younger age profile with the aim to develop as many players as possible. By entering into this partnership with Newport High School the Club has made a financial commitment to achieving these aims and we thank FoNR for their support. By synchronising the players Junior Academy training programme with the Premiership fixture list we look forward to exposing some of these young players to both Premiership and British and Irish fixtures this season.”