January 2014 will see the official launch of the new RFU Developing Player Programme (DPP) across the country at under-13, under-14 and under-15 age groups.
The purpose of the programme is to provide a high quality, individualised, player development experience; encouraging lifelong participation in the game and enabling those with potential to be clearly identified.
The programme will replace the old CB School of Rugby (SoR) programme, which had been in place since 2007 to up skill the most talented players in each county between the ages of 13 and 16. The DPP will be the first step on the representative ladder for young players and also acts as the base level of the academy pathway. The programme will be delivered across Northumberland, Durham and Cumbria in conjunction with the RFU and the Newcastle Falcons Academy.
The main differences between the Developing Player Programme and its predecessor are:-
It will engage with around 750 players across three age groups in our region, 400 more than the SoR and will also engage 100 coaches in player development activity.
The sessions will take place at ten local delivery centres around the three counties as oppose to one centre in each of the three counties, meaning players can access high level training much closer to home.
The sessions will follow a curriculum devised and guided by Newcastle Falcons Academy that covers areas such as catch, pass, evade, tackle, contact and game sense, as well as off-field topics including nutrition, drug awareness and goal setting.
The programme will operate at a district level and will incorporate playing opportunities via district festivals in April and November. This is a huge shift from the SoR which was a 'training only' programme.
There will be further training sessions for the most talented players in addition to their district sessions to help identify those who could progress into the Newcastle Falcons Academy. The natural end point of the DPP is the interface with county under-15 squads.
The DPP season will shift from the traditional September to April window to a February to November window, making better use of the summer weather, light nights and a less congested schedule for the players involved.
Newcastle Falcons academy manager Mark Laycock said: “Rugby is an evolving sport and the new Developing Player Programme will freshen up what has been in place before.
“We have seen a lot of extremely dedicated volunteers giving up their time to help grow the game in recent years and this new scheme will extend the reach of this work much further, and will also add more value to what the players and coaches experience when they attend DPP sessions.
“Having a playing programme incorporated into it is crucial because it gives the players something to work towards, and allows them to put into practice what they have learned at training.
“I’m sure that once it is bedded into rugby circles and the teething problems have surpassed it will form a successful and sustainable tier in player development for our region.”