56 of the region’s under-18 player pool gathered at Cardiff Arms Park on Thursday, where they were put through their paces by the Cardiff Blues senior coaches.
John Mulvihill, Richard Hodges, Richie Rees, Duane Goodfield and Tom Smith were in attendance for the Cardiff Blues Identification Day, where the players worked on developing every aspect of their games.
Following the first block of Regional Age Grade Championship fixtures, and the WRU’s National Schools and Colleges League, the Identification Day gave age grade coaches an opportunity to gather players from all corners of the region and assess the quality available.
Academy manager, Gruff Rees, was delighted with the opportunity to monitor each player while supplying them with training of the highest quality.
Rees said: “This was a fantastic opportunity to gather a large pool of our age grade players from all across the region at the Arms Park to hold a high-quality training day.
“The likes of Craig Everett and Billy Vivian have worked extremely hard in bringing everything together, and we’re delighted with the outcome.
“A day like this has given us an opportunity to keep monitoring a large quantity of players, whether they were selected for the first block of Championship fixtures or not.
“We’ve also undertaken strength and conditioning testing during the week, and had great physical and technical data, which is imperative for effecting talent identification.
“This will also give all players a platform for feedback on various aspects of their game so they can continue their development, whether they will be involved in the Championship or not.
“The door is always open for these boys, and if they implement the feedback they receive then they will give themselves the best opportunity possible to reach their potential and put their hands up for selection.
“What’s important to remember is that even the best international players might’ve gone through periods of disappointment during their age grade careers. But it’s about how they react.
“The likes of Seb Davies and Justin Tipuric are just two examples of how players have reacted to feedback and bounced back to become top class rugby players.
“We’re fortunate to have a number of good teams from the region involved in the Schools and Colleges League, and the door is always open for those boys, as well others from all of our educational partners.
“On top of being able to identify which boys we want to bring into the under-18 side for the next block of games - and maybe progress into the academy system - we’re also able to provide the boys with coaching of the highest quality, with the senior coaches getting involved in today’s session.
“At such a crucial and busy time of the campaign, it’s great credit to John and his team to have them involved. We’re extremely grateful and their commitment to development and the pathway is clear to see.
“Days like this do not only benefit the players, but also our age grade coaches, who are able to learn from senior coaches as well as developing their knowledge about the player pool.
“We’re really proud of the standard set in our age grade teams and we’re eager to make these days a regular fixture in our calendar.”
After a promising first block, which included victories over RGC and defending champions, Dragons, Cardiff Blues under-18 will continue their campaign with the Super Six competition at Ystrad Mynach on Sunday.