Following the Dragons U16s season a select group of players are invited to join the Dragons Junior Academy. The preferred option is for the Junior Academy players to attend Coleg Gwent, Crosskeys campus or Newport High School, for their mainstream education whereby the Academy staff are able to access the players on a daily basis to deliver a comprehensive 2 year development programme.
Coleg Gwent is the biggest Further Education College in Wales and offers the full range of A-Level provision and vocational courses. The vast majority of courses are delivered at the Crosskeys Campus but where a course is not available at Crosskeys, such as construction or an apprentership, these routes can be followed at their other campuses at Ebbw Vale, Pontypool, Usk or Newport, allowing the player to access the Academy rugby programme at Crosskeys.
Newport High School is entering into its first year as a Junior Academy in 2012 and is quickly developing a reputation as a solid educational establishment. Through the Newport West Partnership, the High School is able to offer a broad range of educational qualifications catering for all levels and abilities.
Both the College and High School synchronise all of the players timetables allowing the Academy coaches access to them as a group, on a daily basis, to deliver approximately 15 hours of rugby training time per week. In addition to this the players will either play for the Dragons U18s, Dragons U20s, College/School Team or their Club Team.
The Dragons Academy fully recognize that each players mainstream education is the most important aspect of their development in this two year period. The Junior Academy Manager is based on site and liaises on a daily basis with the College/School tutors and is able to tailor or reduce their rugby programme if anyone is falling behind with their studies. Additionally, the Academy is fully integrated into the College and School's discipline policy whereby a player can be withdrawn from the rugby programme for any behavioural issues.
Players can be selected in the Junior Academy and attend a different School or College but their contact time with the Academy coaches is likely to be drastically reduced.
For information on all of the courses available at Coleg Gwent visit Coleg Gwent or Newport High
The Academy programme aims to provide a complete and robust development route that monitors and assesses training and playing commitments of academy players to ensure that the player’s potential is maximised. The programme is made up of 6 key elements.
Key Elements of the Academy are:
•Technical Development and Support
•Tactical Development and Support
•Physical Development and Support
•Psychological Development and Support
•Nutrition Development and Support
•Holistic Development and Support
In essence, the Academy gives total professional advice and guidance as to how the individual can maximise his potential as a person on and off the field of play.
At a Junior Academy level the programme is packaged as an NVQ Level 3 in Sporting Excellence. This allows for consistency of delivery and assessment as the programme will be externally and independently verified by Edexcel. It additionally allows the player to achieve an extra Level 3 qualification on top of their mainstream education and will aide the player in getting into the University of his choice.
Each section has a number of behaviours, standards and attributes that the Academy players get assessed against and must show constant progression against through their time in the Academy. Each player in the Academy will be formally assessed up to three times a year based on the Dragons PPA assessment methodology:
Player – Player has the technical ability to play in a specific position in the team and the ability to play in a professional, pressurised environment.
Person – Player has the ability to self manage himself in a professional environment and has the mental toughness to compete in professional rugby.
Athlete – Player has the physical attributes to play professional rugby.