The application process to become a WRU Rugby Development Apprentice for 2018 / 19 is now open and the national governing body is appealing for the most diverse, inclusive set of applicants to date.The unique ‘Earn While you Learn’ opportunity has gone from strength to strength since it was launched by the Duke of Cambridge as part of the Royal Foundation’s Coach Core programme three years ago, with all graduates to date having progressed to full-time employment or higher education on completion of the course.
This year already, two apprentices – Hannah Stephens (SEE CASE STUDY BELOW) and Matthew Lewis – have secured roles as full-time schools rugby officers, James Watts-Rees will work for People and Work Unit (SEE BELOW), Scott Lloyd will embark on a coaching role with Newport Live and four – Patrick Pearce, Harrison Duffy, Alex Jones and Rhian Gower have been accepted on University degree courses.
The intensive programme, which is entering its fourth 12-month cycle, enables 18-24 year olds to achieve Level 3 NVQ in Sports Development, in partnership with NPTC Group, and a range of sport-specific qualifications such as coaching and refereeing while gaining exceptional hands-on experience within the WRU community team. They spend much of their time delivering fun and engaging rugby activities to children and young people of all abilities within school and community settings.
There is also structured support provided to help equip the cohort with skills to engage and inspire young people with diverse backgrounds and needs including workshops on disability rugby, social inclusion, behaviour management and peer assessment.
CASE STUDY 1: Current apprentice James Watts-Rees, worked the railway lines as a trackman before snapping up the WRU apprenticeship opportunity. He says his life prospects have been transformed through applying for a WRU apprenticeship.
“Rugby has always been a massive part of my life and I started coaching at my local rugby club at 15 so when this opportunity came up I knew I had to apply and I gave up my job just for a chance at this,” said Treorchy-born Watts-Rees. “Luckily enough, the gamble paid off.
“I’ve had the privilege of wearing the WRU badge every day and spend my time helping children and young people have fun, get fit and make friends through rugby.
“The programme has taught me so much in terms of delivering coaching and communication and also made me more outgoing, confident and generally a better person.
“Plus it has enabled me to achieve NVQ Level 3 which is something I never thought I’d achieve.”
On the back of the apprenticeship, James has already secured employment with the People and Work Unit charity in Rhondda Cynon Taf.
“The apprenticeship has opened my eyes to a whole range of education and career opportunities and I can’t wait to start my new job delivering sport and engaging with communities in my local area while continuing with my volunteer coaching at my local rugby club.”
CASE STUDY 2: Current apprentice Hannah Stephens, from Tumble, had dropped out of a degree course in Education when she took up the apprenticeship opportunity last summer. She has thrived in the hands-on learning environment and says the programme gave her the confidence to secure a full-time position as rugby and engagement officer role at Ysgol Ystalyfera.
“I’d encourage anyone who thinks they may be interested in this opportunity not to hesitate and give it a go," said the former Maes Y Gwendraeth pupil. "Even if you’re not from a rugby background – you’ll get taught how to coach and referee rugby but if you’re interested in sports or keen to get into a career working with children, the programme will give you so much experience, confidence and contacts to set you on the road to almost certain job prospects.
“I definitely feel like I’ve learned more in the last 12 months than I would have in University – in a way that has suited me much better. I’ve been coaching or refereeing most days, supported by some great mentors, whereas in University I would only have had eight weeks of practical teaching.”
WRU Head of Rugby Participation Ryan Jones added, “Our apprentices have become a core part of our team and are given the necessary tools and support to achieve their NVQ Level 3 while helping us deliver our core purpose – More People, More Often with More Enjoyment and More Success. A rugby background is not necessary, it’s more important to us that applicants are passionate about their community and about making a positive contribution through sport development or volunteering of any kind.
"We want the team to be role models for as many aspects of Welsh society as possible in order to empower and inspire the young people they work with throughout the year so I’d urge anyone who wants to make a difference to put in an application – you never know where it may lead.”
Go to wru.wales/vacancies for the full job description and to apply for a South Wales based apprenticeship.
For the first time there will also be rugby apprenticeship opportunities in North Wales with more information to follow in the coming weeks.