- Egremont pointing the way ahead in Cumbria
- Forward planning paying rich dividends
Photo: RFU Archive
Developing and nurturing young rugby players from their infant days into their teens and onward into the senior sides of any sporting organisation is a challenge that clubs across the country wrestle with on a weekly basis. Cumbria is no exception to that pattern.
But as a combined effort by the RFU Development Team and officials at Egremont RUFC have proved, careful and imaginative planning, backed up by solid volunteer work, can produce outstanding results.
Individually, beacons of success have come via Aidan Coulthard, who has won the Cumbria ‘Young Player of the Year’ Award, and through coaches Andy Keep and Andrew Branthwaite, who also received Volunteer Awards from the Cumbria RFU and the Rugby Football Union.
But the true merit of the Egremont effort has been the depth of the success, with teams from Under 8s to Under 16s, all confronting their own specific issues, coming through solidly and making sound progress which will set them up for even greater success next season.
A key element in that process is the review procedure which has set the planning programme for 2013/4 in train.
“The review allows the development team to tailor future planning and be much more focused in the work we deliver.” said Liam Nicholls, RFU Rugby Development Officer for Cumbria. “It will also allow closer monitoring and evaluation of our impact at a local level when we undertake the same process next year.
“The club has made great strides over the past few years and continue to evolve through their dedicated volunteer workforce.”
The range of support mechanisms provided by the RFU Development Team embraced the creation of All Schools programme links with West Lakes Academy and the mentoring of the coaching team, including the delivery of a Scrum Factory course for 42 candidates.
A focus on the Under 8 rugby as the crucial starting point on the conveyor belt to the senior side has included the training of five new coaches in that area and a closer tie-up with local primary schools, while at Under 13 level, where competition for hearts and minds is especially keen, providing a quality experience has paid strong player retention dividends.
Further up the age-range to Under 16s, the club recognises that the battle is by no means over and that it will need continued application of resourcefulness and manpower to bring the on-going project to fruition.
The 2012/13 season, however, has set the benchmark for the club and the county and may well become a blueprint for future rugby development across the county, where the challenges confronting Egremont RUFC are a microcosm of what their neighbours are also dealing with.