While to Cardiff Blues senior squad were away in the South African sun last week, securing European Champions Cup rugby for next season, the next generation of talented youngsters were being put through their paces by academy coaches, Richie Rees and Duane Goodfield.
As part of the new Cardiff Blues development strategy, the academy invited the top 100 Dewar Shield players from the seven districts to the brand new University of South Wales indoor facilities in Treforest.
To date these boys have worked on core skills at the USW high performance centre with the region’s WRU Hub Officers. However, Friday was their first session on positional skills with the academy coaches and Cardiff Blues players.
The session was part of the identification system for next season’s Under-16's Cardiff Blues North and Cardiff Blues South squads.
The forwards worked under the watchful eyes of Taufa’ao Filise, James Downs, Kieron Assarratti, Sion Bennett, Ben Murphy and Kristian Dacey, while Richie Rees and his academy assistants put the young players through a series of handling and decision-making scenarios.
Rees, who made 100 appearances for the region, said: “There is no doubt we have talent in the region. The key is to not get overly concerned with what position they are at this age but to look for potential. The impressive No.8 may well end up at prop and the all action openside at scrum half.”
Director of Development, Clive Jones was delighted with the identification day and the access to world class facilities at Treforest.
“What a great spectacle to see our best youngsters being given detailed coaching and advice from senior pros and in such fantastic facilities as USW’s new indoor 3G. The region is privileged to have such a top class sports facility within its boundaries."
Wherever they play, next season’s Under-16s have a hard act to follow. This year we saw our Under-16 representatives sweeping all before them, with an inter-region title decider on the final day of the Regional Age Grade competition between the undefeated North and South sides.