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Gifted and Talented

Photo: RFU Archive

Schools want to develop both the talented student and the child that struggles. The RFU recognises that clear and accessible pathways for talent are required and reviewed its system in 2010. The aim is to provide an open platform for schools players to enter the rugby union talent development and representative processes.

The age profile of the England team changed significantly in 2010 and many of the 6 Nations winning squad in 2011 were under the age of 25.  England Women who followed up their appearance in the final of the Rugby World Cup 2010 with a 6 Nations Grand Slam did so with new, younger players coming into the squad. In addition, the England age grade teams at Under 20s and Under 18s reached the Junior World Cup Final and achieved a 6 Nations clean sweep in 2011 respectively.

This is by no means by chance; it is all the product of rugby union’s talent identification and development system.  There is a top to grassroots joined-up approach to talent in rugby union, just what schools want to see.  The identification and development process starts in the counties where all players can access the structure with those with strong potential being invited to the CB Schools of Rugby. The Year 11/Under 16 age group is the first where a player can play from county up through to international level.

The dual system – Aspirational and Performance Pathways – is integrated to ensure different player lifestyles and needs are accounted for – click here for full details of the system.  This draws on the expertise of teachers, coaches, top class managers and administrators and the Regional Academies and ensures that the experience is open, fair, and developmental and most of all a good quality one. 

A lot of work takes place on a continual basis to ensure the talent process enhances the rugby calendar for the player and their school through the rugby union Youth Structured Season.  

In addition, the academic requirements of talented players and how their rugby development can dovetail most effectively is also a perpetual hot topic. The RFU has a group of educationalists meeting regularly to address this. 

It is all about putting the player as an individual at the forefront of the rugby union process.

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