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Premiership Rugby and RFU launch Elite Player Development strategy

02 March 2011

  • Elite Player Development strategy launched today
  • Strategy designed to identify, manage and develop high performing talent
RFU Head of Elite Player development Stuart Lancaster

Photo: Getty Images

The inaugural Elite Player Development strategy, designed to manage the development of the professional rugby and England stars of the future, was launched at Surrey Sports Park today (Wednesday, March 2).

The strategy is the result of a 15-month review of academies conducted by Premiership Rugby's Head of Academies and Development Corin Palmer, with support from the Rugby Football Union Head of Elite Player Development Stuart Lancaster.

A collaboration between Premiership Rugby and the RFU, the Elite Player Development strategy is designed to identify, manage and develop high performing talent, but it also puts in place for the first time clear strategic objectives for academies.

This will allow each academy to be regularly evaluated and benchmarked against others and for each to benefit from best practice lessons across the country.

It will also allow Academy Managers to demonstrate a clear return on investment to their board of directors and to seek increases in funding in line with the Premiership Rugby strategy of developing and growing English Qualified Players (EQPs).

Premiership Rugby's Head of Academies and Development Corin Palmer said: "We now have a detailed strategy, accountable review process and collaborative governance model to drive academy standards going forward - it is an exciting time for Premiership Rugby and England.

"There is a clear and shared vision; to have the world's best elite rugby development to enable us to produce a constant stream of talent to compete effectively at Premiership, European and England level. With this strategy, we now have the framework to do that."

Building towards the 2015 World Cup

England prop Alex Corbisiero in action during the 2011 RBS 6 Nations at Twickenham

Photo: Getty Images

RFU Head of Elite Player Development Stuart Lancaster added: "This is the first time the clubs and the Union have had a jointly agreed, collaborative approach to player development and that has to benefit club and country.

"In parallel with player development at club level, from A League through dual registration, to LV= Cup and into Aviva Premiership, we also want those players to be playing through the England age groups; U18U20 and in to the Saxons.

"By then they are in the top 64 in the country, and we want those players to make selection as hard as possible for Martin Johnson and his team.

"We have seen Ben YoungsAlex Corbisiero and Courtney Lawes all go from U20 to the senior team in a fairly short time in recent seasons and I believe this strategy will see more players knocking on the door of the senior squad as we build up to World Cup 2015."

The Premiership Rugby Board has approved the recommendations produced from the review, which formalise the contribution of Premiership Rugby to the governance of the Academy process.

These recommendations are for each Academy to have a clear vision and internal strategy as well as proper management processes and financial discipline, in addition to quality coaching.

Academies will create personal development plans for all their athletes that deal with both their rugby and pastoral development. There will also be induction sessions for parents to explain the academy and player development processes so they can continue to provide support for their children.

Johno support for Academy strategy

England Team Manager Martin Johnson at an England training session at Pennyhill Park, Bagshot

Photo: Getty Images

In addition to the processes around athlete development, the new strategy introduces training and development requirements for academy managers in non-traditional areas such as business planning and accountancy as well as a formal appraisal and evaluation model.

England team manager Martin Johnson has thrown his support behind the new strategy, saying: "The Academy process is vital for the development of players for their clubs and England and it is really positive to see the Rugby Football Union and Premiership Rugby working together like this.

"We are in the middle of the RBS 6 Nations and yet we have seen players like Alex Corbisiero step up comfortably to Test match rugby. That’s a credit to him as an individual but also shows the benefits of developing within an academy structure and playing through the England age grade teams.

"We can already see the success of our development pathways with the number of guys coming through to the senior set up such as Alex, Ben Youngs and Danny Care."