UR7s have announced today that it's leading National Academy program in the UK will restructure in 2018/19 to continue developing young rugby 7s players to the highest standard as it has done over the past 4 years.
Launched in 2014 with a residential program at Hartpury College followed by annual program that includes players representing the Junior & Senior Age-Groups. The first class included only 32 players who were invited to join the academy after attending either UR7s Talent Development Days, UR7s Three Day Academies or were scouted at the UR7s Junior Championships that took place at Newbury RFC.
The coaching program was delivered by Tom Burwell (Academy Director), Richie Pugh, Rhodri Mcatee, Christian Lewis-Pratt, Dan Norton & Jaike Carter. Following the residential each year, the squad then meets throughout the season before then playing in tournaments through May & June.
Players are retained each season based on performance across the year with new players joining the squad through scouting each year.
In 2017/18 the current squad include 112 young players aged 14-19 with the coaching now being led by Academy Managers Joe Byrnes & Ollie Clough with Christian Lewis-Pratt, Sam Edgerley, Luke Treharne, Sam Cross, Phil Burgess and Tom Burwell delivering the coaching. The residential program now takes place at Epsom College each August.
The program has been developed significantly over the past four years with processes, technology and a specific development program for the players on and off the field including movement, S&C, off-field expectations and of course further skill development. Whilst these processes are important to the running of the Academy, the program stays true to it's outlook for all involved of 'Seeing the Simple amongst the Chaos'
Academy Director, Tom Burwell talks about this today
"It's so important for young players that are using 7s as a development tool be it for 7s or 15s that they understand 'just play'. Lots of coaches talk about it but we have found that boys come into the academy needing too much structure. We understand the importance of a framework but we want them to thrive creatively within the framework, so all of our programming is in accordance with this'
2018 will see a restructure of the Academy with the Junior & Senior Age-Groups being split into separate groups for all of the sessions including the residential and the numbers in each group expanding so that the program will include 160 boys aged 13-19 each year.
One of the most key changes is that no longer are the entry points only UR7s based programs though the Junior Championships & Junior Open will remain important scouting opportunities. UR7s will now employ a scouting team of former international 7s players that will use the UK Schools 7s season as the hotbed of talent that it is by getting to as many tournaments as possible to scout for players to join the Academy.
Burwell talked of the importance of this
"Currently our entry points are driven by club rugby and this was the target. We wanted to give young club rugby players the chance by hosting those tournaments and then with it entry into the Academy. Now that we have those pathways entrenched we are expanding the net to catch more schoolboy players as well by our scouts attending as many tournaments as possible in the junior ages to bring on further talent"
"We have had huge success in the past 4 years. I don't like talking about only the top 1% but Fergus Guiry who we scouted playing for Worthing RFC at our Junior Championships flourished in the Academy and is now with England 7s in Cape Town. Will Wilson first got involved as a U15 and he was in the Academy for 3 years before going on to captain England at the Junior Commonwealth Games. More importantly though is the difference the academy makes for young players and their development in becoming excellent schoolboy & university rugby players and we have developed pathways for the boys to go on to play invitational 7s all the way up to the Super Series. We have had 7/8 players go on to play for Apache 7s all summer and more across other sides. The number of junior internationals that have come through the Academy be it for one or three years is exemplary and something we are very proud of in England & Wales"
UR7s will now aim to continue to grow it's Academy each year to be at the forefront of player development in rugby 7s in the UK with creative, innovative coaches and an approach that is unlike anything else in the country
Key Dates for Players who want to be seen
- Jan - March - Schools 7s Tournaments
- April 7th - UR7s Junior Open, Guildford RFC
- May 12th - UR7s Junior Championships, Winchester RFC