- RFU expands AASE programme
- Increase in centres will boost the Women’s and Girls’ game
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Women’s and girls’ rugby in England has received a major boost with the announcement of five new Advanced Apprenticeships in Sporting Excellence (AASE) rugby union centres.
The new AASE centres are in addition to the existing programmes currently running at Hartpury and Moulton colleges, which have proved to be a resounding success. Twenty-two players, including the likes of Alexandra Matthews and Ceri Large, have been capped at England, England U20s or England Sevens level since the first cohort of graduates in 2010.
Following a thorough assessment, Myerscough College (Lancashire), Bishops Burton College (North Yorkshire), Oaklands College (Hertfordshire), Brockenhurst College (Hampshire) and Worthing College (Sussex) have been named as the additional centres.
The AASE programme is designed to meet the needs of young people, aged between 16 and 18 who have the potential to achieve excellence in rugby whilst also pursuing an education at the same time through A Levels or BTEC courses.
With the centres now based across the country, identified students will benefit from reduced travelling time and it is hoped local rugby clubs will also have more players, and better players, available to them. The new programmes will commence at the start of the next academic year in September 2013 and it is expected there will be approximately 70 new starters this year.
Andy Paton, the Rugby Football Union’s Player Development Manager (Women), said: “This move is fantastic news for the women’s and girls’ game. It will continue to develop players in our already well-established Player Pathway at this age group, whilst the programme is also designed so that each athlete is given the opportunity to develop their rugby skills alongside their studies. The programmes at Hartpury and Moulton have been educationally very successful with over 90% of all athletes going onto higher education following the completion of the two-year course.
“In addition, by now having a good geographical spread of AASE centres, this will allow both players and parents the opportunity to select a programme that is closer to where they live whilst also helping to support the players’ local clubs and Constituent Bodies.
“The RFU is really excited about the next few years with the 2014 Rugby World Cup in France and the 2016 Olympics Games, which will feature Rugby Sevens, in our sights. We are confident that the expanded AASE programme will support our international ambitions in both the XVs and Sevens games.”