The Pathway
Charlie Chapman

The Pathway

Gloucester Rugby has a history steeped in tradition that has evolved into the professional era. Gloucester Rugby is a club proud of its traditions and heritage, none more so than producing home grown talent that proudly represents the City.

During the transition into professionalism, it was recognised that Gloucester needed to develop local players who can compete at the highest level and bring the passion and desire that goes with playing for your home club.

In early 2002, Gloucester Rugby was awarded RFU Academy status. A clear development pathway was then identified for potential athletes that aims to produce the complete rugby playing professional worthy of wearing the Gloucester Rugby shirt.

U13-15 Developing Player Programme;

Run in conjunction with the Gloucestershire RFU, Oxfordshire RFU and England Rugby the Developing Player Programme (DPP) is a developmentally focussed programme. With the aim of giving early support to the development of highly talented players within North Gloucestershire and West Oxfordshire. The DPP is run one evening a week out of five Development Centres. It is important to remember that players at this stage are just starting out and by no means the ‘complete player’. Seen as the first step on the pathway not all players who progress through necessarily start within the DPP. With a limited curriculum the DPP aims to give U13 to U15 players different playing and training experiences to those they may receive at their Club or School. Clubs and Schools are asked to nominate their ‘Stand Out’ players at that point in time. Not all players are ‘Stand Out’ at the same time but can be nominated at later stages. Players could be ‘Stand Out’ in some areas but not others. They might not be ‘Stand Out’ with their technical or tactical knowledge but have a ‘Stand Out’ attitude or commitment to their personal development.

U16 Developing Player Programme and Player Development Group;

Assessments are made throughout the U15 DPP with additional assessment evenings being run to give the players every opportunity to move into the U16 programme. A smaller number of players in comparison to the U13-15 DPP but essentially still a wider number to allow players the opportunity to be supported. The group is split into two, one group being the U16 Developing Player Programme and the other the U16 Player Development Group. The groupings being split appropriately by ability to maximise development of the individuals. Movement between the groups happens on an ongoing basis to ensure fair opportunity and appropriate challenge to support the player’s development. Clubs and Schools are asked to nominate players directly to the Junior Academy Manager as the number of players within this group is smaller than that of the U13-15 DPP. The U16 DPP/PDG requires the players to attend the programme at least two evenings a week as progression towards the Junior Academy programmes is underway. This programme is run out of two development centres. One being in North Gloucestershire and the other being in West Oxfordshire with the players coming together one evening week at the Gloucester Rugby Training Centre.

U17 and U18 Junior Academy;

The U17 Junior Academy is an opportunity group which trains alongside the U18 Junior Academy. This group are less likely to be physically or mentally ready for the demands of the U18 Junior Academy and need time to help support their development.

The U18 Junior Academy is where the players start to learn how to develop their performances on a weekly basis whilst still focussing on their longer term development. A smaller group who have been identified as having high potential will be working towards Club honours such as Premiership Shield appearances and Senior Academy contracts. At this stage of the pathway their development is highly individualised and the players commit to around three sessions a week run solely out of the Gloucester Rugby Training Centre.

Full time Senior Academy (18-24);

On leaving the Junior Academy around 6-10 players are offered Senior Academy contracts who will go on to train full time in and around the Gloucester Rugby Senior squad. The Senior Academy is the final stage of the pathway with players ranging from 18 years old to 24 years old. The aim of the Academy here is to progress players through to the Senior squad to represent Gloucester Rugby in the Premiership and European competitions.