Cardiff Blues have announced a new setup for their senior academy, with players bracketed in either the ‘transitional’ phase or classed as ‘tracked’ players.
Overall 22 players will make the senior section of the academy for 2017/18, 16 of which already have Wales U20 caps, and one of which, Seb Davies, has a senior Wales appearance.
The highest tier of the academy will be named the ‘transition group’ and they will train full-time with the first team as they look to make the leap from playing in development tournaments, such as the Anglo-Welsh Cup, to featuring regularly in the Pro14 and European Challenge Cup.
These players will be managed by Richard Hodges and overseen by Director of Development Clive Jones, who is the man redefining the development pathway throughout the Cardiff Blues region, having recently joined from Coleg y Cymoedd.
Jones told the Cardiff Blues official website. “The post-18 academy, known as our transitional group, is a crucial part of our player development program.
“As such we have appointed a coaching group headed by Richard to leave no stone unturned in the individual preparation of these 18 to 22 year olds.
“These young players will also play for our Premiership clubs and again Cardiff Blues are fortunate to have such experience to tap into with Nigel Davies and Dale MacIntosh at Merthyr, Justin Burnell and Gareth Wyatt at Pontypridd and Steve Laws and Neil Edwards at Cardiff.”
Below this level of the academy are six ‘tracked’ players who will split their time between training with the first team at The Vale and training with their allocated Premiership side, as well as continuing their education.
The end goal of Jones’ new vision is to increase the number of players in the 18-22 age bracket making that jump to Pro14 and subsequently assist in decreasing the wage bill by replacing expensive foreign players with homegrown academy products.