We watch a lot of county and representative games and have several scouts around the region and in various sectors of the game keeping a look out for potential talent for us. Outside of this, anyone can nominate a player to us if they feel they are capable of becoming an elite performer (using the GASP principles as a guideline) by emailing academy@newcastle-falcons.co.uk. All nominated players will be added to a regional database and once they achieve a certain number of independent nominations they will be viewed for a potential invite into the Academy. Our message to all aspiring players is to concentrate on playing well for your team and enjoying your rugby because if you are doing this you give yourself the best chance of being identified by the Academy.

There are no set criteria to define what a player must be capable of to be selected by the Academy because everyone is different. We use the GASP principles to guide our selection decisions. GASP stands for Game Sense, Attitude, Skill Set and Physical Potential and if a player excels in any of these four areas we will consider them for potential inclusion in the Academy.

Only players within the Academy will receive information, advice and support from the Academy staff because the system is elitist by nature. For safety reasons, the players we work with are managed individually with programmes tailored to suit their particular needs. Our advice to any player outside of the Academy wishing to enhance their skill set is to speak to their coaches and teachers who will be able to guide them.

Over the course of a season we would expect players to be playing between 25 and 35 games per year to maximize development and avoid burnout. In essence we work on the basis that one game of rugby per week is ideal for player development. This is to allow adequate recovery, training and preparation ahead of your next game. There are times when fixtures will be slightly congested for some teams and our advice here is to choose the highest standard game to play in.

No. All players working within the Academy are registered with us but only a handful of players will ever gain a professional contract once they reach 18 years of age. Each player is viewed in isolation and their potential to play at the highest levels will dictate whether or not a player is offered a part-time or full-time contract with the club.

We advise all players to either continue with their education or develop vocational interests alongside their rugby because for those fortunate enough to make a career out of playing rugby, it is not a life-long job. We are formally linked to Gosforth Academy in Newcastle where we deliver our AASE Scheme. Players attend the school for their post-GCSE education and partake in a specialist rugby development programme alongside their academic courses. We also have strong links with the local universities (Durham, Newcastle and Northumbria) and have various links in the workplace too.

We have an A Team that competes against other Premiership clubs in the Aviva A League. This team consists of predominantly 1st XV and Senior Academy players. We also have an U18 Team that plays in an U18 Academy League against other Premiership clubs and an U15 Team that participates in various Academy festivals against other premiership clubs. None of these teams have a full fixture list so all Academy players will have an external playing programme for other teams, whether it be their club, school, college, university or county. All Academy players have a bespoke playing programme tailored to their individual development needs.

Parents undoubtedly have the biggest influence on any young player's life and the key is to support but not over manage the sporting development of their children. In order to maximise their potential, a player must take ownership for their own learning by discovering their own motivation for training and doing it because they enjoy it, and not because they feel pressurised into doing it. Parents can play a vital role by taking an interest in the wellbeing of their son, initially managing logistics and finance, providing emotional support and helping them to develop independence. Many parents find it difficult to let go but reducing parental involvement has to happen if the player is to develop the necessary skills themselves. Parents managing their child’s development do so at the risk of hampering the players’ long-term potential.

No. It is important for players and parents to understand that there are a very small number of career opportunities within professional rugby. Only a few contracts will ever be offered each year to Academy graduates, so the vast majority of players will exit the Academy programme at some stage, hopefully having learned from their experiences. Because of this, we place a big emphasis on players enjoying their time with the Academy and help them develop socially and educationally alongside their rugby development.

If a player is released from the Academy, they will be directed towards an appropriate playing and training programme for them. Not everyone will become a professional player so the exit routes we have are vital in strengthening relationships with the community game. Some players may even be nominated for talent transfer programmes.

No. The Falcons Regional Academy focuses on the identification and development of potential elite players. The Community Foundation is a separate branch of the club that operates within the wider community game and organises activities such as touch rugby competitions, residential camps, match day experiences and player visits. For more information on the Community Foundation please contact Melanie Magee at: melanie.magee@newcastle-falcons.co.uk

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