RUGBY UNION - Coventry Rugby launch West Midlands academy to help young players realise potential - The Coventry Observer

RUGBY UNION - Coventry Rugby launch West Midlands academy to help young players realise potential

COVENTRY Rugby have launched the Coventry Rugby Regional Academy following the demise of fellow local clubs Wasps and Worcester Warriors.

The launch of a professionally-run new academy aims to allow aspiring players in Coventry and Warwickshire to fulfil their potential with the mission statement – “Developing young rugby players whose progress has been limited not by talent but by instability in the professional game.”

And the academy will feature under-15, 16, 18 and 23 age groups and be accessible through recommendations from local clubs, schools, county boards and open trials which will take place over the summer and throughout the year.

Coventry Rugby’s chief executive, Nick Johnston, said: “We want rugby union to be a big part of the sporting scene in Coventry and Warwickshire and by ensuring talented players reach their full potential we will provide players to clubs at every level.

“From Neil Back and Tom Wood who played in the Premiership and for England to current Coventry head coach Alex Rae, one of his wingers David Opoku or first-teamers at clubs like Barkers Butts or Old Leamingtonians our area has a fantastic track record of producing rugby players.

“This new initiative will ensure youngsters both now and, in the future, get the same opportunities that their contemporaries around the country receive in the RFU-funded Premiership academies and that our wonderful rugby heritage continues.”

The academy, based at Coventry’s Butts Park Arena home on Monday evenings and supported by Coventry Rugby and elite external coaches and support staff, will see selected players take part in regular training sessions as well as representative games.

Cov hope this will create a player pathway to professional rugby by taking a collaborative approach with the academy to operate separately from existing club, school, university and representative rugby.

And local business will financially support the new academy which will work closely with schools, clubs, universities and representative teams within the Coventry and Warwickshire area.

The academy’s inclusive approach will remove all barriers to players and present all comers with the opportunity to fulfil their ambition and maximise their potential and ability.

And the top-end 18 to 23 age group will cater specifically for late developers and those unsuccessful in winning professional contracts at the end of academy pathway.

Coventry highlighted the following key objectives behind the launch of the academy:

  • The club hope the academy will provide opportunities for all young players to develop their talent
  • Increase the club playing population in Coventry and Warwickshire
  • Improve the standard of county rugby
  • Create a world-class coach and support staff development programme
  • Create a pathway to professional rugby

Coventry are hosting an Academy Launch Evening at Butts Park Arena on Friday, June 28 from 7pm where the club will reveal more details and information about how to express an interest in participation.

Following the collapse of Wasps and Worcester in 2022, a hastily put in place RFU-operated interim academy ensured talented 14 to 18-year-old’s in the West Midlands retained access to the coaching and support programmes which develop them as rugby players. However, the interim academy closed following a restructure.

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