Cardiff Blues have added another promising young player to the Academy through the Wales Exiles programme as Gwilym Bradley has signed a contract at the Arms Park.
The 19-year-old hails from Kingston in London originally and attended Hampton School while being involved with the London Irish Academy, but represented Wales at age grade level thanks to his Mother being born in Newport.
After choosing to attend the University of Bath he linked up with Cardiff Blues and appeared for the A side in this season’s Celtic Cup, becoming a regular in the back row during September and October.
Bradley has also represented UoB in the BUCS Super Rugby competition and has been named in the Wales U20 wider training group ahead of the upcoming U20 Six Nations. He joins Theo Bevacqua as the second player to join the Academy through the Exiles programme.
Speaking to the Cardiff Blues official website, he said, “It was great to spend time with Cardiff Blues A earlier in the season. That was my first experience of a professional set-up and it opened my eyes to how everything operated.
“The older guys, who had more than 100 appearances for the first team, treated you with a lot of respect, but were also happy to guide you through it and teach you different stuff. If it’s anything like my experience there when I link up with the academy, it’s exactly what I want. I didn’t have to think much about it to be honest. It’s the opportunity that I’ve been dreaming of.
“I want to be a rugby player. That’s my dream. And now that journey starts and I have to crack on and get to work. You’ve got the likes of Josh Navidi, Olly Robinson and Nick Williams here, as well as someone like James Botham, who I played with during the Celtic Cup, and he was already able to help me with the little things that I could pick up.
“That’s what makes you a better player, and I’m looking forward to continuing that over the next few years. Being with Wales under-20 is another exciting opportunity which will hopefully push me forward. I’m doing all I can to get the nod for the Six Nations. I’ve done a few camps with them, and been working with coaches like Gethin Jenkins and Gareth Williams, who are the best I’ve worked with.
“I’ve really appreciated the support from Gethin because all it takes is that one coach to champion you and believe in you. That can go a long way, and that’s what’s happened. If it wasn’t for the exiles programme, I would never have had the opportunity to get a look in back in Wales. The work they do is amazing in gathering players from all over the world, and to have the chance in front of Welsh coaches is really good.”