Students looking to enjoy a career in rugby at the highest level as well as gaining an academic qualification will continue to benefit from the increasing collaboration between Hartpury and PRO14 rugby clubs in Wales.
With a rise in players committing to their respective regions, it will enable them to be able to undertake A-levels and diploma qualifications at Hartpury College – rated Ofsted Outstanding for its academic provision – while continuing to remain part of their Welsh club’s U18 academy.
The student players will also enjoy access to Hartpury College’s highly qualified coaches and state-of-the-art training facilities, including its new £8.8 million Sports Academy, as members of its acclaimed Junior Rugby Academy.
More than 200 Hartpury alumni have played international rugby or signed professional contracts around the world, including British Lions and Wales rugby star Ross Moriarty and Wales and Gloucester Rugby teenaged sensation Louis Rees-Zammit.
Two of the latest students looking to benefit from this dual career pathway whist remaining with their regional academies will begin their studies at Hartpury in September– Louie Hennessy-Booth (Cardiff Blues) will take A-levels and Josh Hathaway (Scarlets) has enrolled on the Level 3 National Diploma Sport (Rugby).
Wayne Thompson, Manager of the Junior Rugby Academy at Hartpury, said: “We’re delighted to be working with regional clubs in Wales to provide their academy players with an opportunity to gain an academic qualification from an Ofsted Outstanding institution as well as continuing to play rugby with their respective regions.
“Providing students with access to the dual career pathway, as a TASS Dual Career Accredited Site, is an extremely important part of what we do at Hartpury.
“An increasing number of players aged 16 to 18 are realising that it would be rewarding for their future career prospects to gain an academic qualification alongside their chosen rugby academy.
“As a specialist institution, we try to be as flexible as possible with the diploma and A-level courses that college-level students can study, which means they can combine different subject areas with their rugby development.
“It means our students can fully capture a broad range of academic disciplines and continue to play top-level rugby, which they may not be able to do elsewhere, so they enjoy the best of both worlds.”
The PRO14 league is an annual rugby competition comprising 14 leading rugby clubs from across five countries – Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Italy and South Africa.
Welsh clubs have won the high-profile competition six times since 2001 – Scarlets in 2003-04 and 2016-17 and Ospreys in 2004-05, 2006-07, 2009-10 and 2011-12.
Cardiff Blues Head Coach John Mulvihill said: “We have some great partnerships within our region and are proud of our development pathway with some excellent rugby and educational opportunities.
“However, we must keep broadening our horizons as, for many young players and their parents, there is the natural urge to look at different opportunities and benefits.
"When we look through an objective lens, and our academy staff have spent quality time with Wayne and his department, it is clear that Hartpury has similarly aligned programmes that promote rugby excellence with fantastic educational support, which is really important in helping our players grow on and off the field.
"Academy manager Gruff Rees and our academy staff are delighted to work closely with Hartpury and feel it will be great for Louie to challenge himself in a different environment but with appropriate A-level options and a strong support network with his family and ongoing connection and time with Cardiff Blues.
“Gruff has worked with the family over many months and he is thrilled to support Louie and look forward to the next couple of years.”
Kev George, Scarlets Academy Manager, said: “At the Scarlets we are aware of the diverse needs of our young players and the importance of partnership to allow them to maximise their potential.
“We are happy to be entering into a partnership with Hartpury that will allow the players to stay within the Scarlets set-up.”