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Rugby News

Academy youngsters at Wellington Festival

The goal for young players is to graduate at the Tigers academy in the footsteps of seniors including Matt Smith
The goal for young players is to graduate at the Tigers academy in the footsteps of seniors including Matt Smith

Leicester Tigers have a team at the Under-16s Wellington Festival this week, starting on Bank Holiday Monday.

The festival features 420 players from the 14 regional academies taking part in a week-long programme which is hosted every year at Wellington College in Berkshire and aims to develop both academy players and coaches.

On the field, the teams train and play against each other in a series of matches and challenged with law variations aimed to encourage ball-in-play time.

Players are also given education and guidance in nutrition, anti-doping and professional sports pressures during the week.

Wellington Festival is the largest academy festival in English rugby and is seen as a key experience in a players’ development and transitional experience.

“The festival will expose players to different levels of stimulus that will help them develop through their rugby journey,” said the RFU’s head of regional academies Don Barrell.

“They will be given the chance to play a level of rugby they haven’t had yet and be challenged in a way that they wouldn’t find anywhere else. The stuff they do at Wellington will prepare them for future life as a rugby player.”

Referee Wayne Barnes will also give the players a presentation on officiating and there is a National Coaching Day on Thursday.

Players will also be immersed in skill zones and masterclasses throughout the week.

“The point of Wellington is individual development, it’s not a tournament, there are no finals, it is a festival, it is about personal development on and off the pitch during the week,” adds Barrell.

“It’s not a rugby tournament, it’s an experience. It’s about developing players of the future not teams of the future. The best players are going to be built of experiences not tournaments. There are loads of different departments that input into the week.”

14 Premiership Rugby Academies: Bath Rugby, Bristol Rugby, Exeter Chiefs, Gloucester Rugby, Harlequins, Leicester Tigers, London Irish, Newcastle Falcons, Northampton Saints, Sale Sharks, Saracens, Wasps, Worcester Warriors, Yorkshire Carnegie