Worcester Warriors Academy successfully runs an Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE) for aspiring elite rugby players that combines player development and academic study.
The initiative, which is supported by the RFU, invites students aged from 16 to 18 to apply for an AASE place which will combine rugby training at Warriors with a course of academic study at Worcester Sixth Form College. The new scheme complements the club's existing Academy.
The course takes two years to complete, with the AASE framework providing a structured national training and development route. The framework contains a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) which is fully reflective of the broad range of competences required such as the technical, tactical, physical and psychological aspects of rugby as well as addressing wider issues such as lifestyle, communication, wider career management, and health and safety.
Long Term Athlete Development 16-18 should be "Train to Compete" 15 hours a week. Traditional rugby schools "Train to Win" ethos is usually about the developing player preparing for the School 1st XV to win fixtures.
We would like to continue to develop our own players who will continue to further the reputation for excellence of Worcester Warriors. The club takes pride in the fact that the rugby element of the Worcester Warriors Apprenticeship is conducted by professional staff at the 1st Team training facilities at Sixways Stadium.
The students undertake their academic studies at Worcester Sixth Form College which is a short drive from Sixways Stadium and offers fantastic facilities and an outstanding academic record.
Rugby is structured around the academic timetable so that whatever course our students take - A Leave or BTEC - the training programme fits in with this.
Training develops technical excellence, and game play encourages learning through performance. To this end we maintain a very strong fixture list featuring other Premiership club apprenticeship schemes.
Athletic Potential Enhancement (A.P.E.) - a series of levels of exercises and activities designed to improve athletic performance i.e. adjust to and make best use of the strength and conditioning gains and also prevent injury by means of improving mechanics, balance, flexibility, coordination etc.
Knowledge and Understanding is covered wherever possible by gaining practical experiences on the pitches. Where this is not possible we will undertake classroom based sessions covering such topics as game understanding, technical and tactical appreciation through reflection, etc. Most are backed by video analysis of the apprentices own performances or by analysis of current elite performers.
Candidates for a Warriors Apprenticeship are identified via a combination of nominations, scouting and applications. Acceptance that the candidate has displayed elite levels of performance or shown the potential to reach elite levels will be established through scouting or application, references and trials. Once a candidate has been selected on rugby performance grounds, an interview with the college will ensure the provision of appropriate academic courses. Once a candidate has been accepted on rugby performance and an academic path has been agreed, a medical is required to ensure fitness to engage in the physical rigours of the apprenticeship.
The AASE scheme has already been hugely successful in rugby. Out of the initial 83 scholars, 12 have so far achieved international honours, 34 have been offered professional rugby contracts, 45 have progressed into Higher Education and four have moved into employment. Currently over a third of the AASE students with Warriors have been offered professional contracts. The remainder have been offered university places, often on a scholarship to keep close links with Worcester Warriors.
Simon Lane AASE Co-ordinator at Warriors, said: "The AASE scheme provides us with the framework to give players the chance to excel in their sport and still get the education they need, so that if rugby doesn't work out for them they will have completed their education and have other careers to fall back on. As AASE gives each participant an additional qualification alongside their mainstream courses, it can help them pursue further education opportunities. Our belief is that education must run alongside sport at this level, however talented the player."
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