College rugby in Ospreylia is set for a boost this season after plans to broadcast the WRU Colleges League on television throughout 2012/13 were announced by the Welsh Rugby Union and S4C today.
The Ospreys have invested heavily into a development programme in conjunction with Bridgend College, Neath Port Talbot College and Gower College Swansea over the last two seasons, and today’s announcement will enhance the exposure that the teams get hugely.
Sixteen games will be broadcast to achieve the most extensive TV coverage of non-international junior rugby in the history of the game in Wales.
It will feature the eight WRU Colleges League teams involving Under 18 players in further education.
All the teams involved are Welsh sixth form colleges except for the independent school Llandovery College. More colleges or school teams could potentially join the league in future seasons.
Under the broadcast plan cameras will cover one game live each week during the progress of the league.
The selected match will be webcast live during the afternoon on the S4C website and then screened in its entirety on the Welsh language television channel the same night from 10.30pm.
Highlights from other Colleges League games will also be screened on S4C during the evening programmes.
The first game to be screened is Coleg Morgannwg v Coleg Gwent on Wednesday 3 October (2.30pm) with newcomers Llandovery College hosting the next live webcast on October 10 when they welcome Neath Port Talbot College to their ground.
Six games will be shown during October and November with a further ten scheduled for output later early in 2013 during February and March.
WRU Performance Manager Gethin Watts said:
“This is an important breakthrough for us and signals our intention to reflect the true value of this level of the game to the WRU.
“It is a great boost for the players to know their matches are being broadcast and it is bound to give an added edge to the competition for success in the league. This in turn will help us improve the quality of the league and ultimately produce more players capable of competing for regional and ultimately national recognition.
“Throughout the season our cameras will get around all the teams so the public will be able to follow the progress of the competition closely and really get to know the teams.
”Age Grade rugby and especially the 16 to 18 yrs group is a valuable element of our pathway structure and this initiative proves that we are working hard to develop depth in our performance pathway as well as encouraging the development of rugby for all young players who are willing to work hard to fulfil their potential.”
The coverage plans include proposals to screen the second and third place play-off match and then the final which will reveal the league champions.
Geraint Rowlands, S4C’s Head of Broadcasting and Sports and Events Commissioner said:
“We are looking forward to working closely with the Welsh Rugby Union to give rugby at this level the platform it deserves. We have had a great response to our broadcasts in the spring. The coverage reached a new, young audience on-line while also delighting our traditional rugby audience in Wales and the UK."
Each of the live games will be filmed in a three-camera outside broadcast delivered by Sports Media Services of Bridgend who are the contracted WRU video and broadcast providers.
Producer Russell Isaac of Sports Media Services said:
"In New Zealand and South Africa, rugby at the 16+ college level is seen as key to the development of young rugby players. In Wales, the 16+ college is growing and developing all the time and our programmes will reflect the buzz and excitement of the league. Some of these players should form part of the Wales squad for the IRB Junior World Championship, the Welsh regions and even the national squad one day. What is certain is that there will be plenty of talent, buzz and excitement in the coverage."
WRU Colleges League 2012/13
3 October 2012
Coleg Morgannwg v Coleg Gwent (live match - Taffs Well RFC, 2.30pm)
Coleg Sir Gar v Bridgend College
Neath/Port Talbot College v Gower College
Coleg Sir Benfro v Llandovery College
10 October 2012
Coleg Sir Gar v Coleg Morgannwg
GowerCollege v Bridgend College
Coleg Gwent v Coleg Sir Benfro
LlandoveryCollegev Neath Port Talbot College (live match 2.30pm)
?17 October 2012
BridgendCollegev Coleg Gwent
Coleg Sir Benfro v Coleg Sir Gar
Coleg Morgannwg v Neath Port Talbot College
GowerCollege v Llandovery College (live match - Swansea RFC, 2.30pm)
24 October 2012
Neath Port Talbot College v Coleg Sir Benfro
Coleg Morgannwg v Gower College
Coleg Gwent v Coleg Sir Gar (live match - Cross Keys RFC, 2.30pm)
LlandoveryCollege v Bridgend College
7 November 2012
GowerCollegev Coleg Gwent
Neath Port Talbot College v Bridgend College
Coleg Sir Benfro v Coleg Morgannwg
Coleg Sir Gar v Llandovery College
14 November 2012
Neath Port Talbot College v Coleg Sir Gar
BridgendCollegev Coleg Morgannwg
GowerCollegev Coleg Sir Benfro
LlandoveryCollegev Coleg Gwent
23 January 2013
Coleg Gwent v Neath Port Talbot College
Coleg Sir Benfro v Bridgend College
Coleg Sir Gar v Gower College
Coleg Morgannwg v Llandovery College
30 January 2013
Coleg Gwent v Coleg Morgannwg
BridgendCollegev Coleg Sir Gar
GowerCollegev Neath Port Talbot College
LlandoveryCollegev Coleg Sir Benfro
6 February 2013
Coleg Morgannwg v Coleg Sir Gar
BridgendCollege v Gower College
Coleg Sir Benfro v Coleg Gwent
Neath Port Talbot v Llandovery College
20 February 2013
Coleg Gwent v Bridgend College
Coleg Sir Gar v Coleg Sir Benfro
Neath Port Talbot College v Coleg Morgannwg
LlandoveryCollege v Gower College
27 February 2013
Coleg Sir Benfro v Neath Port Talbot College
GowerCollegev Coleg Morgannwg
Coleg Sir Gar v Coleg Gwent
BridgendCollege v Llandovery College
6 March 2013
Coleg Gwent v Gower College
BridgendCollegev Neath Port Talbot College
Coleg Morgannwg v Coleg Sir Benfro
LlandoveryCollegev Coleg Sir Gar
13 March 2013
Coleg Sir Gar v Neath Port Talbot College
Coleg Morgannwg v Bridgend College
Coleg Sir Benfro v Gower College
Coleg Gwent v Llandovery College
20 March 2013
Neath Port Talbot College v Coleg Gwent
BridgendCollegev Coleg Sir Benfro
GowerCollegev Coleg Sir Gar
LlandoveryCollegev Coleg Morgannwg
Play-off and Final dates TBC?