25 Sep 2013

Wales Rugby League, Wigan Warriors, Coleg y Cymoedd and Maesteg School officially launched a new Rugby League Academy at Maesteg School on Tuesday evening. This move will significantly boost the Rugby League player pathway structures in South Wales ahead of the forthcoming Rugby League World Cup, with Wales playing Italy on the opening day of the tournament at the Millennium Stadium on October 26th.

The new academy further strengthens the sports growing popularity in South Wales and will provide Wales Rugby League a new permanent base in facilities that will include office space, a state of the art gymnasium, all-weather training pitches and grass pitches.

WRL Chief Operating Officer Chief Officer said: “This is a significant day for ourselves as we are not only improving what we are delivering to our young performance players but we are also seeing the beginning of the sport developing a permanent base in South Wales. This represents a fantastic opportunity for the players and ourselves in building a lasting legacy from the World Cup. The number of partners that have assisted in making this happen has been immense and on behalf of WRL I thank them all in helping to set this up. Namely Skillsactive, European Social Fund, Welsh Assembly, Coleg y Cymoedd, Maesteg Comprehensive School, Innoved and Wigan Warriors RLFC.

“The players will be receiving daily training at Maesteg Sixth Form as part of a new AASE pilot, with the funding obtained for this representing the biggest ever investment to Wales Rugby League from a welsh body. The improvement to our pathway structures further supports our vision of being a top four nation by the end of the 2017 World Cup and it is another sign the sport is taking significant strides in Wales.”

Maesteg School was chosen for its location at the heart of the South Wales Valleys, being the border between East and West Wales, as well as its excellent educational standards, recognised by ESTYN 2012, particularly in the field of physical education. Furthermore, the support of staff for students and the local community links fostered by the school made this the perfect institution to base the Academy. All of the partners in the delivery of the Academy are extremely grateful that the project has been supported by the European Social Fund through the Welsh government. A wider community programme will also ensue in the area with Academy players supporting delivery to training to pupils in both the lower school and in the local primary schools, further increasing participation levels in the sport.

Wales Rugby League’s player performance pathway has gone from strength to strength in recent years, and the provision of the Academy, its staff and resources at the school will considerably improve the standards of the players at under 18s level and into the future for club and international Rugby League in Wales. This Academy is also a major boost for Rugby League in South Wales in the same year as the World Cup comes to the country.

Speaking about the Academy, Stuart Hogg, Director of Learning at Maesteg School said: “This partnership represents a unique educational opportunity with the world’s most successful Rugby League club and our National Governing Body for Rugby League. The town of Maesteg has a rich heritage of producing Rugby League players including ex-pupil Allan Bateman, who was here at the launch yesterday to formally open the Academy. The Academy will play a considerable role in extending our educational provision and reducing the number of students not in education or training. Furthermore, the Academy concept promotes high standards and aspirations for the students and we are delighted to be involved in it.”

Andy Coley, Wales Partnership and Liaison Manager, said: “We are delighted to see the Wigan and Wales link is strengthened further with the opening of the Academy. It will give the young players of South Wales a greater possibility of achieving  success by following this pathway. Our staff – Wales internationals Dave Clark and Jordan James - are an integral part of the AASE Programme and will offer their experience in Coaching and Strength and Conditioning to those on the course.”

Pictured (from left): Chris Thair, Welsh international Rhodri Lloydd and Stuart Hogg.