Below you will find some of the most frequently asked questions of the Academy staff and players as well as tips to help take the next step in a professional rugby career.
Via the Developing Player Programme (DPP) and the which is the first step on the ladder for any aspiring young player.
Nominations take place each year within each county for players aged 14 and above. We watch a lot of rugby matches around the region, both live and on video and have several scouts in various sectors of the game keeping a look out for potential talent for us too.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. All nominated players will be added to a regional database and once they achieve three independent nominations they will be viewed for a potential invite into the academy.
Our message to all aspiring players is to concentrate on giving your best effort for your team and enjoying your rugby because if you do this you give yourself the best chance of being identified by the academy.
Only players within the academy receive information, advice and support from academy staff because the programme is elite. For safety reasons, all 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 or develop physically is to speak to their coaches and teachers who will be able to guide them.
All academy players are on a dual-career pathway to continue with their education or develop vocational interests alongside their rugby because even those fortunate enough to make a career out of playing rugby, it is not a life-long job. Players can attend any educational or vocational establishment and still be part of our academy. We are formally linked to Gosforth Academy in Newcastle where we deliver our ACE Programme for identified players aged 16-18. Here, players attend the school for their further education and partake in a specialist rugby development programme alongside their academic courses. For more information, contact Lawrence Patton (Gosforth Academy ACE Manager) at email@example.com. We also work in partnership with Newcastle University who offer a wide range of higher education courses for +18 players at a traditional ‘red brick’ university with a bespoke rugby development programme that enables players to combine rugby and education as a student athlete. For more information, contact Darren Fearn (Newcastle University Director of Rugby) at firstname.lastname@example.org. We have good working relations with all the educational providers in our region and have various links in the workplace too.
We have an A Team that competes against other premiership clubs and in friendlies against RFU Championship teams and Scottish Super 6 teams. This team consists of predominantly 1st XV and senior academy players with guests invited in from our associate academy. We also have an U18 team that plays in an U18 academy league against other premiership clubs. Teams at U17 and U16 levels participate 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.
Over the course of a season players should play between 25 and 30 games per year to maximize development and avoid burnout. We work on the basis that one game of rugby per week is ideal for player development with no two games falling within any 72-hour period to allow for adequate recovery, training and preparation. There are times when fixtures will be slightly congested for some players or teams and our advice here is to be open and honest with your coaches and choose the highest standard game to play in.
No. It is important to understand that there are a very small number of career opportunities within professional rugby. 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 contract with the club. All players working within the academy are registered with us but only a handful of players will ever gain a professional contract so the vast majority of players will exit the academy programme at some stage, hopefully having learned from their experiences and enjoyed their time with us. Because of this, we place a big emphasis on holistic development to help mould players into well-rounded people with good social skills, a sound educational footing and transferrable life skills.
When a player is released from the academy they will be directed towards an appropriate playing and training programme for them. Usually this is within the county that they came from and their transition will be monitored by an identified individual within that region. These exit routes are vital in strengthening relationships with the community game and supporting players in their next steps so that they can enjoy lifelong involvement with the sport. Some players may be nominated for talent transfer programmes from time to time and the door is never closed from an academy perspective so a player leaving the academy can work their way back in provided they show the necessary qualities.
No. The 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. They organise activities such as touch rugby competitions, residential camps, match day experiences and player visits as well as delivering the Tyne Met Rugby Apprenticeship programme from Kingston Park Stadium. For more information on the Community Foundation please contact Gavin Beasley at: email@example.com.
Yes. We have several players that are on a dual-code pathway and play rugby union in the winter and rugby league in the summer. Players that are in both the Newcastle Falcons rugby union academy and the Newcastle Thunder rugby league academy are managed jointly by both sets of professional staff. Our advice to all young players is to experience as many different sports as possible (both team sports and individual sports) because of the enjoyment it can bring and the transferrable skills it provides. There does become a point at which an elite player has to specialise to succeed at the highest levels but with rugby being a late-specialisation sport this is not going to be during their adolescent years and should always be balanced with their academic and other life goals.
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. Some 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.
There are designated windows within the RFU age-grade calendar for academies to hold U18, U17 and U16 fixtures as well as designated weekends for Developing Player Programme playing opportunities across the year.