THE RFU Women’s Academy Programme kicks off on Sunday May 10 with some of the country’s most promising players looking to show their potential to reach the top.
The Academy Programme is crucial in developing talent to improve rugby at all levels of the women’s player pathway, with the objective of producing future England Internationals at XVs and Sevens.
Played across England’s four divisions – North, Midlands, South East and South West – the programme provides a challenging, high quality, performance environment within each division. This enables the individual development of players who have the potential, ambition and commitment to become the best they can be.
There are three rounds of matches between now and the conclusion of the programme, with all games being staged at the home of Birmingham Exiles RFC at Elmdon near Birmingham International Airport. It kicks off on Sunday with the North playing the South East, and the Midlands facing the South West. The second and third rounds of the round robin competition will be played on May 17 and 24.
The programme has followed the same format as last year, with five Academy training camps being delivered at two central venues, which has meant the amount of coaching time has been maximised and allowed the players to be pushed both physically and mentally.
The Academy camps are designed to mirror that of an Elite Player Squad (EPS) camp with a mixture of position specific carousels and conditioned games. This has meant a greater focus has been placed on position-specific development and small unit skill work, rather than purely team preparation.
Andy Paton, RFU Player Development Manager (Women), who oversees delivery of the Player Pathway, said: “The centralised matches at Birmingham Exiles provide the players with an opportunity to test themselves against other players from within the programme and to have the chance to push their claims for further involvement in programmes within the player pathway.
“Having the matches at a central venue allows the Divisional Talent Development Officers (DTDOs) and the England coaches to assess players and select for future programmes at both XVs and Sevens.
“As well as the current England U20s players who are all involved in these matches we once again have several players from within the current EPS who will be involved in these games as part of their on-going development or to provide them with valuable game time if returning from injury. This summer is once again very busy for the Senior England squads with the final legs of the World Series and Euros for the Sevens and a summer tour to Canada for the XVs.”