June 18, 2002
Thirty young players from the Rhondda Schools Under 12 and Under 13 rugby squads converged on the University of Glamorgan last Saturday to tackle the question of making sure their educational qualifications keep up with their playing success. The visit was just one of a number of initiatives undertaken by the Pontypridd Academy of Rugby, a unique venture to make sure talented young rugby players realise their potential both on and off the field. The story of the rugby giant who suddenly finds he has little prospect of a job when he hangs up his boots at the end of his playing career is all too familiar. Now this initiative promises to protect the long-term interests of promising lads with a future in the national game.
The Academy is a joint venture between Pontypridd RFC, the Welsh Rugby Union and the University of Glamorgan. Under the scheme, Pontypridd RFC offers coaching, professional development, master classes and lifestyle management. The University offers degrees in sports-related subjects, as well as many other courses. Current Ponty players Matthew Nuthall, Sonny Parker, Ceri Sweeney and Gethin Jenkins are all studying Applied Sports Science at Glamorgan.
Clive Jones, Director of Rugby at Pontypridd, said that visits like this were fulfilling one of the main aims of the Club. As well as maintaining the high quality of the team, the club is also determined to make sure that it is helping produce rounded individuals who can contribute to a better future for the area. “We are very aware of the role the club plays in the overall social life of the Valleys,” he said. “Through the Academy we aim to ensure that the lads think about what’s happening to them off the pitch, and what their lives might be like in the future when they can”t rely on the game to provide financial security and job fulfilment.”
At the Open Day, the young players were shown around the university and took part in a quiz aimed at testing their knowledge of higher education. They also took part in training sessions at the Centre for Sport, Health and Exercise with Pontypridd RFC’s Rugby Development Officer Chris Jones.
The University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Regeneration, Professor Dai Smith, said that events like the Open Days were central to the mission of the University through the Academy of Rugby. “We need to show young people when they are in the early years of secondary school what the university can offer to them,” he said. “Often these young people come from backgrounds where going to university is unusual, and if it is left until the sixth form it can be too late to convince youngsters that higher education is relevant, worth doing and fun.”
To find out more about the Pontypridd Academy of Rugby, please phone 01443-405006.
For further information about University of Glamorgan courses, visit the Web site at www.glam.ac.uk