A new rugby academy has been launched atÂ Coleg y Cymoedd to provide aspiring players with the chance to join a Super League team.
Salford Red Devils â€“ a professional rugby league club in Greater Manchester, has partnered up with Wales Rugby League and Coleg y Cymoedd to create a talent pathway and coach development programme for Welsh players.
The club has a long history of recruiting Welsh players dating back to the 1890s and spanning 147 sportsmen, including rugby league stars Rhys Williams. The new academy will look to continue this illustrious legacy of Welsh talent in the Salford ranks, providing a route for talented players into a professional club.
Under the brand, Wales Rugby League National Development Academy in partnership with Salford Red Devils, the initiative will operate out of Coleg y Cymoeddâ€™s Ystrad Mynach campus. It will be the only RFL accredited Development Academy in Wales.
Players at the academy will receive elite coaching from the Salford Red Devils, Wales Rugby League and Cymoeddâ€™s expert team of coaches, while also studying a BTEC Level 3 Diploma in sport. Splitting their time between practical training and academic studies, they will learn about a variety of topics including sports nutrition, sports injuries, fitness testing, match officiating, anatomy and physiology.
A Salford Red Devils Coach will attend once a month to provide training, advice and professional insights. They will also act as scouts to assess playersâ€™ skills, with a view to providing those that impress with the chance to play with the club in the Super League.
Ian Blease, director of rugby and operations at Salford Red Devils said: â€œWe know that Wales is home to some exceptional ruby talent and we want to foster and nurture this. The approach to developing young players in Wales, and at Coleg y Cymoedd, also aligns perfectly with the ethos and culture at Salford, which sees as much of a focus placed on personal character and educational development as physical ability and rugby league specific skillsets. Â
â€œOur new academy will provide the best young Welsh players with a potential route to Super League, with the opportunity to progress through the Salford Red Devils player pathway programme.â€
As well as providing training for players, the new partnership will see the club also provide support and professional development to coaches.
Mark Jones, Head of rugby league at Coleg y Cymoedd, said: â€œColeg Cymoedd is excited to become an official partner to the Salford Red Devils and WRL on this new venture. Salford is committed to developing new rugby talent and we are impressed with the development pathways they continue to invest in.
â€œWith Salford Red Devilsâ€™ history of signing Welsh players, the partnership is a natural fit for Coleg y Cymoedd and the WRL National Development Academy which based at Ystrad Mynach. We canâ€™t wait to see what future talent comes out of the academy!â€
Coleg y Cymoedd is the only college in Wales to offer a full time rugby league programme alongside a learnerâ€™s education and Welsh players will now have a direct pathway to achieve their dreams of playing Super League. The news comes as Coleg y Cymoeddâ€™s rugby academy has been awarded dual rugby league academy accreditation this month from the RFL in recognition of its provisions for both menâ€™s and womenâ€™s rugby. The college already has a highly success rugby programme for men and is in the process of setting up a female academy.
Gareth Kear, Wales Rugby League CEO added: â€œThe partnership between the WRL, Salford Red Devils and Coleg y Cymoedd is the perfect pairing as each of us shares the same values of inclusion, diversity and equality. Together we will work to identify and develop the rich source of rugby league talent that has always existed in Wales, as well as provide outreach projects in deprived areas to make our sport accessible to all.
â€œWe are proud to be running the academy out of Coleg y Cymoedd which has proven itself to be leading name in the furtherment of Welsh rugby.â€
For more information on the academy, visit https://www.cymoedd.ac.uk/en/course/35631/level-3-in-sport-rugby-league
Rhondda Cynon Taff