The Gloucester Rugby first team squad are on a preseason training camp in St Andrews this week so you might expect the training ground to be deserted. However, that's not the case.
Indeed, the Hartpury College training ground is a hive of activity at the moment although the faces doing warm up exercises on the training pitches are more unfamiliar and slightly more fresh faced than usual!
Under the expert eye of Phil Greenaway, Gloucester Rugby's Assistant Academy Manager, this week saw the members of the Junior Academy report for duty as they embark upon a path that they hope will eventually lead to them pulling on the Cherry and White shirt in the first team.
And, as Phil explained, the young prospects are being worked hard, effectively living the life of full time rugby professionals.
"Two full days a week, they're in from 10am until 5pm doing a mixture of skills, conditioning, speed and weights."
"We've upped the programme a little bit and made it a bit more intense over the past couple of years and incorporated some things like psychology and educational packages."
"But, essentially, this is where it all begins!"
Most of the Guinness Premiership club have been reducing the size of their squads during this close season. How important is it for a club like Gloucester to develop its own talent rather than buy it in?
"I think the role of the Academy is key. You want local players playing for the club. They bring a bit passion to the table. Look at the likes of Andy Hazell and Adam Eustace, they're key to the club."
"They understand the local area, the understand the local area, they understand the Shed! It's important to have local based players in your side and the spectators love seeing them there."
"And, looking at the bigger picture, if we produce more local talent then it's better for English rugby."
The Academy system has done Gloucester Rugby proud over the past few seasons and Greenaway admitted that this success shows the new recruits what is possible if they apply themselves to make the most of their talent.
"My introduction yesterday included reading out a long list of players in the first team squad who have come through the Academy set up."
"Two or three years ago we had the likes of Jordi Pasqualin, Charlie Sharples and Henry Trinder were out here going through our summer Silver programme."
"And we've got some outstanding talent in this group as well. We have a number of players who will be linking up with England U18s shortly and also a few with England U16s as well."
"Gloucester has always been a hotbed of talent, it's a real rugby area and we have to make sure that we make the most of that talent and bring them through the system."
Bringing the players through the system is a real art as, it goes without saying, it isn't a case of one size fits all. The players all have to be treated as individuals and treated accordingly.
"One of the challenges, of course, is that they all come through at different rates. Some players accelerate earlier than others. It's key to try and spot the late developers and those who might slip under the radar."
The talent has found its way into the Academy in recent times, how do you make the conveyor belt of talent continues?
"We like to think that we don't miss too many but Gloucestershire is such a big area so we have to make sure that our talent id systems are in place and working."
"We mainly become aware of young players via the County Schools of Rugby and individual clubs' junior talent development squads."
"Plus myself and Mark (Cornwell) are out watching rugby all around the country on wet Sunday mornings!"
"But we need to keep moving forward and we still need to make more links with some of the clubs around the area and ensure that we're out there watching the likes of Old Pats and Cheltenham. We also enjoy good working relationships with the likes of Crypt School, Pates, St Peters, Kings School and many others."
Despite the obvious good work being done with the players whilst under the supervision of the Academy, Greenaway was quick to pay tribute to the others who have play a part in their rugby development.
"While they're working with us, the players will still be playing for their schools and for their clubs but we run the AASE (Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence) scheme at Hartpury as well which ties in quite nicely as the guys are put through an apprenticeship in rugby."
"They play in a national AASE League against the rest of the Premiership squads but are still free to play for their schools, clubs and counties who all play an important role in bringing the lads through."
"The relationship with Hartpury is very important. For these lads to come and train in this sort of environment for five weeks throughout the summer is absolutely fantastic. They're training using facilities that our first team use on a daily basis."
"For them to be involved in this sort of environment and see how professional things are is as real bonus for them."
And the word professional applies to all aspects of the Gloucester Rugby Academy set up. A full group of backroom staff were overseeing things as Greenaway spoke.
"We've got a duty to bring a much more holistic approach to things. Strength and conditioning is becoming a bigger part of the game these days but we also provide educational workshops for the guys."
"Possibly only 5% to 10% of these guys might make it into the Gloucester Rugby first team so we have a duty to make sure that the others are educated in a number of areas."
"We try and cover all the bases, or as many as we can. The strength and conditioning guys do a great job with the lads and we also have the physios and the medics here as well."
"They're well supported in terms of their development."
And, finally, what lies ahead for this group of players?
"The top end of this group will hopefully play representative rugby this year, the likes of Corey Britton and Ryan Mills and Gareth Evans."
"The guys here today will hopefully progress up to the Gold group which is our full time Academy group and from there, hopefully onwards and upwards into our first team squad."
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