- Four regions to compete over three weekends
- Members of England Elite Player Squad involved in regional competition
The RFU Senior Women’s Academy Programme kicks off on Sunday (May 4) as some of the country’s most promising players look to show their potential to reach the top.
The new Academy Programme was launched in September 2013 and has replaced the old Senior Divisional Programme. This programme is crucial in developing talent to improve rugby at all levels of the women’s player pathway, with the objective of producing future England Internationals at XVs and sevens.
Played across England’s four divisions – North, Midlands, London & South East and South West – the programme provides a challenging, high-quality performance environment within each division. This enables the individual development of players who have the potential, ambition and commitment to become the best they can be.
There are three rounds of matches between now and the conclusion of the programme, with all games being staged at the home of Birmingham Exiles RFC in Elmdon, Solihull. It kicks off on Sunday with defending champions the North playing the South West, and the Midlands facing London & South East. The second and third rounds of the round robin competition will be played on May 11 and May 18.
The standard of the players in the Academy squads has increased this year through having more joined-up training weekends. The programme has seen five Academy training camps being delivered at two central venues, which has meant the amount of coaching time has been maximised and allowed the players to be pushed both physically and mentally.
The Academy camps are designed to mirror that of an Elite Player Squad (EPS) camp with a mixture of position-specific carousels and conditioned games. This has meant a greater focus on position-specific development and small unit skill work, rather than purely team preparation.
Andy Paton, RFU Player Development Manager who oversees delivery of the Player Pathway, said: “The centralised matches at Birmingham Exiles provide the players with an opportunity to test themselves against other players from within the programme and to have the chance to push their claims for further involvement in programmes within the player pathway.
“Several players from within the current EPS who are not currently part of the World Cup training squad are to play in these games as part of their ongoing development and to provide them with valuable game time in case of injuries to any players within the World Cup squad.”
“Having the matches at a central venue will also allow the Divisional Talent Development Officers (DTDOs) and the England coaches to assess players and select for future programmes at both XVs and sevens.”
Fixtures (all at Birmingham Exiles)
May 4: Midlands v London & SE (12pm); South West v North (2pm)
May 11: North v London & SE (12pm); Midlands v South West (2pm)
May 18: South West v London & SE (12pm); North v Midlands (2pm)