Students from the Coleg y Cymoedd rugby team have had the honour of being trained by expert coaches from the South African team ahead of their head-to-head with Wales.
The Springbokâ€™s coaches came to Coleg y Cymoeddâ€™s training ground in Treforest to lead a scrummaging session with the young team, passing on their professional advice and experience with the students.
The experts included the South Africa-born former France international player Pieter de Villiers and Scot Richie Gray who was brought on board as the breakdown consultant for the Springboks earlier this year.
The South African team had been training in Treforest in the lead up to the Wales match, and the coaches showed interest in working with the Coleg y Cymoedd team to lead a session on a state-of-the-art scrimmaging machine which is expected to change modern rugby.
Scrum coach de Villiers retired after the 2007 Rugby World Cup with 69 French caps and 14 years at French club Stade Francais. He said: â€œWeâ€™ve been getting player feedback from the boys about the srummaging machine prototype, which is the first time Iâ€™ve seen it. They were a good group to work with, and you can tell theyâ€™re well-coached because they bind very well and have a high performance level.â€ The prototype which is being tested in Wales has the potential to change scrummaging in the future.
â€œThe second best thing after playing is coaching youngsters, as I get lots of pleasure in sharing my specific knowledge of the scrum with others and seeing young players develop and learn the trade.â€
Captain of Coleg y Cymoedd rugby team is Liam Belcher, 17, from Trebanog near Rhondda. Liam is in his second and final year of studying BTEC Level 3 Sport and aspires to be a rugby coach after a professional playing career. He said: â€œIt was such an honour to have someone so experienced coaching us, especially with South Africa having such a dominant scrum at the moment. All the boys took so much away from the session which should help us in our upcoming games.â€ The Coleg y Cymoedd team includes many promising players as a result of a link up with the Cardiff Blues Academy, designed to allow talented youngsters to combine sporting and educational achievement.
The aim of the academy is to develop the rugby skills of the students on the course, but also to ensure that they are prepared academically should a career in rugby not materialise. The students develop team work skills, determination and have an opportunity to see how careers in coaching can be rewarding and fulfilling. This will support them to succeed in any future employment.
Clive Jones, the director of rugby at Coleg Morgannwg, said: â€œOur partnership with the Cardiff Blues Academy has enabled Walesâ€™ next generation of rugby talent to train with one of the best teams in the world and we are really grateful to the South African coaches for paying us a visit.â€
Further images available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/colegycymoedd/sets/72157637590780145/