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Young players from district rugby clubs unite

18th February 2008

A free rugby academy day was kindly hosted by RAF St. Athan on Friday 15th February 2008. Their impressive facilities were accessed at an all day event.

 Besides a keen focus on enjoyment, the day was essentially about integrating under 15s players from different district rugby clubs and allowing them to access top rugby Coaches.

Three Vale of Glamorgan clubs were invited to bring along players to this highly acclaimed annual special event. Rugby Clubs attending were Sully, Dinas Powys and Llantwit Major. Lots of their young players turned out to the half term event day, playing in ‘finger tingling’ cold conditions!

The day was skilfully organised by Matt Silva, the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Rugby Development Officer. Matt is jointly employed by the Cardiff Blues and Welsh Rugby Union.

Matt invited special guest and fellow Cardiff Blues U18s Coaching talent Gareth Nicholas. During his career Gareth has also impressively coached Wales under 19s in three world cups and Pencoed Academy.

The Clubs recognised that it was a real coup to access talent such from Matt, Gareth and Cardiff Blues Development Academy Officials - who were monitoring future players to perhaps join them next year.

During the morning the team focused on skill sets. The Royal Air Force offered a much welcome hearty lunch. In the afternoon they generously allowed players to access their training team and participate in some unique indoor team bonding sessions, which included puzzles and quizzes.

The day was unique as it integrated clubs who united in sharing ideas. RAF St. Athan generously gave boys branded souvenir t-shirts to play in. This immediately removed the idea that they were opponents and encouraged camaraderie, opening channels to work with new team players.

Gareth Nicholas taught contact skills, defence handling, working on mental retention and explained the ‘opposites technique’.

Players worked on attacking handling skills, they then practiced putting tackle techniques into defensive patterns. They would later transfer their newly acquired skills into a thrilling game situation.

Whilst Gareth has a decade of experience, previously training adults, his notoriety has come from successfully coaching younger players. He talks about why he likes working with this age group, saying, ”Their minds are like sponges! If trained correctly they can absorb lots of minute details.”

Gareth also impressed with the high level of players who joined the session, adding, “At the Academy there were some players attending who are exceptionally talented, it’s great that lesser skilled players were exposed to working with high-end players. All should benefit from new ideas from the day.”

Matt Silva believes in community rugby too, highlighting, “It was great to see so many coaches being proactive and caring about the quality of training. Coaches and players alike united with a healthy passion for this exciting team sport.”

Matt praised players for being highly interactive within the rugby academy day. He wished to extend his sincere gratitude to RAF St. Athan, Cardiff Blues and all Coaches involved. Together they ensured that youth community rugby is well and truly on the map in the Vale!

Feedback has been excellent from both the players and club coaches. John Moyle coaches Under 15s at Sully Sports RFC and he took around ten players to the rugby academy away day. 

It was the first time John had personally attended; he was incredibly impressed, saying, “It’s great for all players to focus on their development. Techniques are explained comprehensively, using basic terminology. As Coaches we will now be able to reinforce new techniques back at the club grounds and share ideas with players who were unable to make the day.”

Special mentions also go to the attached coaches for the day: Micky Spillane the Cardiff Blues North Development Officer, Ray Gallivan Cardiff Blues Under 16s Team Manager, Darren Turner Llantwit Major Under 15s, Bob Breed Dinas Powys Under 15s, John Moyle Sully Under 15s and Mike Morgan Cardiff Blues Under 16s and Llantwit Major Youth team Back Coach.

For more information please contact Rugby Development Officer Matt Silva by telephoning 01446 704603 or 07725 200634. Alternatively, you may wish to visit for more details.