It’s been an exciting and busy time at the Gloucester Rugby Academy with the formation of the new Gloucester Rugby Elite Academy. A number of the Cherry and Whites’ young talent are also set to be getting game time out on loan in the Championship.
Gloucester Rugby have formed a new branch of the Academy which will act as a bridge between the Senior Academy and the first team, providing greater links between the two set ups.
The new Elite Academy will see players train with the first-team on a regular basis, allowing them to be challenged and develop alongside the experience that is in the first team squad.
Recently, Conor Maguire has joined the Elite Academy from Dragons and is an exciting young loose-head prop who will hope to prosper in this new set up.
Maguire has represented Leinster at Under-18, Under-19 and Under-20 level and also featured for Ireland Under-18s and Under-19s, before joining the Dragons on a short-term deal.
The aim is to have a player in each position in the Elite Academy so that a strong group of young players can grow and get exposed to the first team environment.
Peter Walton, Head of Academy, is excited about the new structure.
“We decided that this campaign we’d push players up. We had about 25 players in our senior academy and we decided to push 18 of them to form an Elite Academy. They are players that we want to challenge and get around the first team. The rest will stay in the Senior Academy and we feel that they will just take a bit longer to come through. It doesn’t mean that the Senior Academy players aren’t going to make it, it just means that they need more time.”
The idea is that the members of the Elite Academy will gain a lot from the experience and they’ll be better suited to step up when their time comes.
“It’s a bit of a two-way thing. If we need players, we can step players up from the Senior Academy into the Elite and then the Elite into the first team so that’s how it works.
“There are players who we need to see challenged in that first team environment and that’s what we’re trying to do. It also keeps the first team players on their toes because it keeps them thinking ‘crikey, there’s a young player coming through, I better up my game’ which is good and healthy.”
Gloucester Rugby’s Elite Academy
The formation of the Elite Academy is another example of how important developing young, local talent is to Gloucester Rugby’s plans for the future.
“We see this as the future of the club. We want players to come through from the Academy. If that’s coming through from when they first joined the DPP at age 14 and going all the way through or if it’s from joining the academy when they’re 16/17, we see that as the future of the club. Yes, we’ll always look to bring in areas where we lack from a first team point of view, but we want to recruit from within.”
Gloucester Rugby players out on loan
The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that only the top level of rugby has been allowed to be played recently. This has meant that many of Gloucester Rugby’s Academy talent haven’t played a game of rugby for around 12 months.
With the Championship returning to action in early March, there is an opportunity for a number of players to go out on loan and get game time playing in the second division of English rugby.
Eight Gloucester Rugby Academy players have joined Hartpury on loan with Cameron Jordan also out on loan linking up with Coventry.
Head of Academy, Peter Walton, sees this as a great opportunity for the players.
“We just want them to go and play rugby. There’s no substitute for playing. You need to play. That’s why it’s important with our relationship with Hartpury RFC and BUCS is that our players are able to get some rugby. We’d rather have our players playing than being sat in the gym. They need to be playing rugby.
“Hopefully they get some game time with Hartpury but there is no guarantee as they’ve got a big squad but they’ve been training with Hartpury for the last three months. It’s a good chance for them to play some Championship rugby if they get the opportunity and give them some rugby.”
Gloucester Rugby players out on loan
Cameron Jordan – Coventry
Seb Blake – Hartpury
Arthur Clark - Hartpury
Josh Gray - Hartpury
Joe Howard - Hartpury
Harry Taylor - Hartpury
Matty Jones - Hartpury
Isaac Marsh - Hartpury
Tom Stanton - Hartpury