The Ospreys today unveiled details of an enhanced working relationship with the further education colleges across the region.
Under the new arrangements, Bridgend College, Neath Port Talbot College and Swansea College will all work closely with the Ospreys' Elite Youth Development department to provide an unrivalled rugby programme at each of their campuses, which it is hoped will help to ensure a constant flow of quality young players through the system.
Overseen by Regional Performance Development Manager, Andrew Millward, Ospreys staff will provide support and assistance to the college coaches, who in turn will follow a specially created development plan to allow them to enhance their own skills. The new programme will focus on coach and player development, following the Ospreys philosophy and system of rugby to create a stronger sense of regional identity.
Elite Performance Director, Andrew Hore, said:
"We already have excellent relationships with the three colleges, but this new programme will take it onto another level again. I cannot emphasise enough how important the role that Bridgend, Neath Port Talbot and Swansea Colleges have in helping us to ensure sustainable success for the Ospreys is. We have opted to follow a college based programme of player development that will allow our young players to continue in formal education, which obviously will help to create better people, while continuing their rugby development in a suitable environment
which follows the Ospreys ethos.
"We are extremely grateful to the colleges for the way in which they have embraced the idea, recognising that by formalising their relationship with us in this way they are strengthening their rugby offering and developing even greater bonds with the local sporting community. It's an exciting prospect and we are really looking forward to working closely with them when the new programme gets underway in the coming academic year."
The partnership will see a core group of age-grade players based at their local college where they will continue with their education alongside a newly created rugby programme. Each week they will participate in two rugby sessions, a conditioning session and a workshop which will alternately cover nutrition, medical, welfare and analysis. In addition to college coaching staff, the Ospreys will make available a conditioning coach, a nutritionist and elite youth development coaches to assist with the delivery of the programme.
Additionally, the programme will see the introduction of a new Ospreys Colleges competition played at Premiership grounds in the region, with the top two then competing for the Cuddy Cup in a one off final. The colleges will also be supplied with new jerseys that will incorporate Ospreys branding.
Andrew Hore added:
"The benefits of this new programme are substantial. The colleges will benefit from the association with the Ospreys, along with the increased support that is available from ourselves, and the recognition they will get for the work they are doing with youngsters in their community. For the coaches, it's a fantastic opportunity for them to develop themselves and to move up the coach development pathway with the region and it will give them a greater understanding of the O.U.R.S rugby system we have in place at the Ospreys.
"The youngsters taking part in the programme will benefit from a world leading player development programme, in addition to first class education, creating well rounded individuals on and off the field. As for the Ospreys, for our investment in the programme we will see better prepared players coming through the system who will have a greater understanding of professionalism at a younger age, that will be further along the development pathway with a better understanding of our philosophy.
"Ultimately, the programme will create more Welsh players, coaches and administrators which is our aim. Importantly, it will develop rugby people who have a strong community responsibility and greater regional pride which will help us along the road to our aim of creating long term sustainable success for the Ospreys."