Cardiff Blues’ under-16 sides have confirmed their squads for the upcoming Regional Age Grade Championship campaign.
A fresh intake of talent has joined the region’s pathway system, with the squads led by head coaches Sam Williams and David Griffiths.
The region has a proud history at age grade levels, with the likes of Ellis Jenkins, Lewis Jones and Brad Thyer amongst those to taste success at under-16 level.
The latest crop of youngsters will look to emulate the success of last year’s teams, which saw Cardiff Blues North lifting the RAG Championship title in a final day decider against Cardiff Blues South.
While the final touches are made on the under-18 squad for the forthcoming season, all three age grade coaching teams have also been confirmed, with Cardiff Blues stars Garyn Smith and Scott Andrews amongst those involved.
Craig Everett, who is joint head-coach of the under-18 side, has been part of the talent identification for the age-grade teams and is excited to see the potential in the new crop of players.
“As always, we’ve had a thorough look at players from all corners of the region and the selection decisions has been tough once again, because we’re blessed to have a huge amount of talent available to us,” said Everett.
“The strength of our teams in the Dewar Shield over the last few years is evident of how the region’s youth development is striving, and it’s an exciting opportunity for these boys to take their first steps into regional rugby.
“Historically, Cardiff Blues has always carried strong teams at both under-16 and under-18 levels, and we’re excited by what the latest group of players can achieve.
“We were extremely proud of both the north and south teams last season, with only a final day decider able to separate them, having remained undefeated against the other regional sides in the Championship.
“We’ve seen six boys who will be eligible for under-18 rugby this season being awarded with their first academy contracts this week, making them the youngest boys to come onto the academy system. This shows that the region is committed to investing heavily in homegrown talent, and that is really something for the new intake to aspire to.
“It’s also important to note that the door is not closed for those who aren’t selected. As age grade coaches, we continually keep an eye out on players up and down the region, and there are success stories of boys who have initially missed out at under-16 level but worked hard to develop their game and eventually became senior professionals.
“The work of the coaches involved has to be recognised as well. They give up their free time to work hard on ensuring these teams and players reach the maximum of their potential, and their input and contribution is invaluable.
“It’s also fantastic to be working with conditioning staff which have been provided through our superb partnership with University of South Wales. They’re the future professionals of this industry, and they bring a high level of professionalism and quality to the backroom teams. We're also fortunate that the partnership with USW allows us the opportunity to use their world class facilities at the Sports Park in Trefforest, and the all-round support for these youngsters mean they're given an opportunity to develop in the very best conditions.”
The Cardiff Blues under-18 squad is in its final stages of selection, and will be confirmed in the near future.
Cardiff Blues Under-16 North
Forwards: Blake Griffiths, Callum Dawe, Dewi Hobbs, Ellis Veale, Evan Addis, Garin Enoch, Iwan Coyle, Kai Carnell, Keane Evans, Kian Mattervers, Kian Evans, Kieron Heatlie, Lewys Walsh, Liam Jones, Owen Williams, Rhys Tyler, Rian Mason Jenkins
Backs: Ben Newton, Caelum Cox, Chad Powell, Dylan Williams, Ioan Evans, Ioan Thomas, Jack Roberts, Jacob Symes, Jayden Williams-Witney, Jaydon Lewis, Rio Davies, Sam Harris, Thomas Edwards, Ty Lewis
Head Coach: Sam Williams
Team Manager: Justin Newton
Backs Coach: Michael Morgan
Assistant Coach: Gavin Williams
Contact Area Coach: Damian Regin
Scrum Coach: Luke Thomas
Defence Coach: Chad Mutiambizi
Conditioner: University of South Wales staff
Physiotherapist: Alun Bonello
Cardiff Blues Under-16 South
Forwards: Dan Heselton, Sam Sully, Sam Godfrey, Jack Lock, Sam James, Will Fyfe, Nigel Aaron Clement, McKenzie Martin, Rhys Burleton, Josh Lee, Tom Caple, Rhys Ford, Casey Williams, Woody Facey, Gruff Lloyd, Josh Hamner, Josh Edwards, Zach Mutyambizi, Evan Jones, Harper Chamberlain
Backs: Orson James, Finn Charles, Morgan Bowen, Euen Phillips, Joe Pearce, Louie Hennessey, Osian Coates, Jack Grant, Harrison James, Zach Wall, Ben Moon, Owen Yeoman, Louis Rochefort-Shugar, Owen Richards
Head Coach: David Griffiths
Team Manager: Mark Gould
Backs Coach: Michael Thomas
Assistant Coach: Garyn Smith
Forwards Coach: Stuart Campbell
Contact Area Coach: Lee Highgate
Scrum Coach: Nathan Trevett
Defence Coach: Chad Mutiambizi
Conditioner: Shaun Howard
Physiotherapist: Stephanie Jemph
Cardiff Blues Under-18
Head Coaches: Craig Everett and Aled James
Team Manager: Billy Vivian
Backs Coach: Justin Thomas
Forwards Coach: Scott Andrews
Conditioner: Cai Jenkins and University of South Wales staff
Physiotherapist: Carys Moggridge