Hundreds of young rugby hopefuls are participating in special development sessions at the Llandarcy Academy of Sport that they hope will help them on the road to a successful rugby career.
The region has teamed up with Afan Nedd, Bridgend and Swansea Districts to operate the Ospreys Player Pathway, a system that provides a structured development programme for players aged 11-16, and as part of that programme, every Friday evening sees between 100 and 150 children spending two hours at Llandarcy taking part in sessions with Ospreys Development Coaches. The three Districts operate teams at U12, U13, U14 and U16, and the Friday sessions are rotated on a weekly basis, providing each age-group with one session per month.
The children are provided with a specially constructed programme covering the ‘six pillars of development’, ensuring that the young players receive a solid grounding in not only the rugby basics tactical, technical and physical support, but also in the areas of nutritional, psychological and holistic support, areas which are often overlooked at this stage, to the detriment of a player’s personal development.
By providing this level of support to developing players from the three districts, the Ospreys are looking to create not only better players, but better all round people as these young players strive to become fully fledged Ospreys.
Gary Clement is Ospreys Player Development Officer for Bridgend District, working alongside his colleagues Ben Rose (Swansea) and Dai Arthur (Afan Nedd), and together, they oversee the sessions, liaising with their counterparts from the respective District set-ups. Gary commented:
“The District set-ups do a tremendous job in identifying young talent and providing them with the first opportunity to play representative rugby, and as a region, we work closely with them to ensure that young players have the best chance of reaching their full potential.
“These sessions are extremely valuable to the development of the next generation of Ospreys, and are central to our player development pathway. These children may only just be starting off on the long road towards a rugby career, but it is important that we provide them with the support and the tools to give themselves the best chance of succeeding in their aims of becoming an Osprey.
“By concentrating on the six pillars of development, we are looking to develop well rounded, responsible individuals, who understand the full extent of what is needed to carve out a long-term future in the game. We believe that it will also create a bigger player pool across the region in the longer term, with less players being lost to the game as they developer from youth rugby to senior levels.
“This system isn’t just used to develop players though, as the Coach Development team are also continually appraising and mentoring the District Coaches, to ensure the ongoing development of our coaches. Our belief is that better coaches equal better players, and that can only be a good things for the region.”