As well as the action on the pitch when Gloucester Rugby hosted the Exeter Chiefs at Kingsholm on Friday evening, there was plenty of other things going on around the ground.
Gloucester Rugby Club is committed to the holistic development of each Academy player. This extends to life off the field of play and ultimately life after rugby. The Academy staff will ensure that each player has the opportunity to reach their full potential, be it academic, social, or playing.
This Academy is concerned about all aspects of an individual's development and monitors commitment and progress in order to make success at the highest level a real possibility.
Education is the key to the future well being of our young players; it opens doors at a variety of levels and serves to broaden horizons.
- Support our players throughout their educational programme.
- Communicate and liaise effectively with our educational partners.
- Ensure that Academy players receive an appropriate educational programme that suits their needs, abilities and aspirations.
- Continually monitor and report on Academic progress.
- Enhance the educational provision on offer by providing a life skills programme. This serves to raise awareness across a range of areas as a result of various seminars, visits, and discussions.
In order to realise their potential in the modern game young players must maximise their time with the club. To this end it is vital that integrated flexible educational provision be sought in order to ensure that both academic and playing objectives can be met. This then provides the platform from which the person can realise their potential.
In real terms this means that, ideally, at least one session per day is given over to developing their rugby potential. Only then will they become equipped with the attributes to deal with rugby at the highest level.
To create, provide and cultivate an environment where:
- Education is valued
- Learning is encouraged
- Talents and interests are developed
- Team work is promoted
- Students are supported
To liase frequently and effectively with:
- Other Academies
- The wider community
The academy licence agreement is the regulatory document, provided by the RFU that guides Academy policy. Those players involved in the programme are, wherever possible, to be involved in up to 20-22 hours per week of Rugby related activity. To that end educational partners are sought in order to ensure that a rugby commitment such as this does not impact negatively on academic progress. Therefore, the primary objective is to ensure both playing and academic progress is made throughout their time on the scheme.
Educational provision at the Gloucester and England Rugby Academy (GERA) falls into two broad categories, 15-18, and Post 18.
All players in the 15-18 age groups are in full time education studying at a level that best suits individual needs and abilities. Our principal, but not exclusive, educational partners are Hartpury College and St Peters (Gloucester), who are able to offer a wide range of courses to prospective GERA players.
That said there are clear benefits in attending either of our educational partner establishments. Specifically, this refers to fully integrated educational provision. This serves to maximise playing development without compromising a pupils' academic progress.
It should be noted that it is not GERA policy to insist on attendance at one establishment or another. The GERA view is that this is a family decision and that our role is in a strictly advisory capacity. This ensures the player, and his parents, can make as informed a decision as is possible about a player's academic future.
It is the GERA aim to establish and maintain effective relationships with school staff and enable effective communication to take place. This demonstrates to the player that GERA value educational development highly and that their progress in school will be monitored over the course of the playing season.
All players on the programme will receive two reports annually. These will primarily report on rugby matters, however, appropriate comments regarding academic life can be made. That said it is the school that will provide appropriate comments about academic progress through their normal reporting channels.
Both parents and players will be invited to attend meetings in order to discuss their sons progress with the Academy staff. A copy of this report will be sent to the school to keep them informed of how things are going. Parents and the school will be encouraged to feedback to the Academy staff.
At post 18 levels the rugby commitments are no less demanding. The majority of players will be working within our Gold group and as such follow the first XV timetable. Undergraduate programmes of study are available at both Hartpury College and the University of Gloucestershire. Again these are set up to cater for a wide range of academic ability.
Flexibility is such that as a player moves closer to Gold status and ultimately Senior Squad inclusion the academic courses can be tailored to reflect an increased rugby commitment. On top of their academic programme all Gold players will follow the Performance lifestyle programme organised by the Professional Rugby Players Association (PRA). The aim of this programme is to provide guidance and advice on a range of wider non-rugby issues. This serves to minimise the impact of any potential concerns, conflicts or distractions that the player may experience away from rugby. Jason Reilly of the PRA coordinates the delivery of this programme
A small group of players will attend academic institutions other than St Peters and Hartpury. GERA staff will support these players via an Outreach visiting programme. Outreach represents an amended Rugby programme to suit the needs of these particular players. The objective is for these players to carry on their academic and rugby programmes in the normal way within their existing school environment.
Some players in this GERA group will also receive support and feedback from the National Academy Staff on rugby matters. All comments will be fed into the RFU database and reported to their educational establishments where relevant.
Attendance at a full time educational establishment is not a prerequisite for inclusion onto the GERA programme. However, it is recognised that there is a responsibility to prepare young people for life after rugby. All cases will be treated on their individual merits and appropriate advice given. That said the GERA staff are well aware of the highly selective nature of the process and will act to work in the players best interests at all times.