Leading supermarket chain Waitrose has teamed-up with Stirling County Rugby Club to set up an innovative academy to improve the development of young rugby players.
The Waitrose Stirling County Rugby Academy will focus on the long-term development of young players from the age of 12 to 18 years old, to improve their physical well-being, skills and tactical knowledge that will equip these players to reach the higher levels of club rugby and beyond, thereby further raising the standard of the domestic game.
The Academy structure will provide selected players with a programme of individual development through improved skills and team play coaching, alongside strength and conditioning, health, nutritional and life-style support and guidance, provided by a range of qualified coaches and other professionals at Bridgehaugh.
Stirling County president, Kevin Robertson, in welcoming the club’s partnership with Waitrose, said: “The Waitrose Stirling County Rugby Academy is a ground-breaking initiative within Scottish rugby that will allow the club to build on the success of its highly regarded junior and youth rugby sections.
“I would like to thank Waitrose for their generous support of the Rugby Academy, which I’m sure will be of great benefit to many of our young players and improve the standards within our sport."
Lindsay Clifford, branch manager at Waitrose Stirling is delighted that Waitrose is to support the new Rugby Academy at Stirling County. She said: “The club’s ethos and long term investment in young peoples’ overall development, fits perfectly with Waitrose’s own strong commitment to being an active player within the local communities where we have branches.
“The Academy will also focus on inclusive, active and healthy life-styles; goals which Waitrose is proud to support.”
“Many of the club’s young players have gone on to play in the top flight of club rugby and have risen to even higher levels in the sport, playing for Scotland at international level. We hope this Academy will help develop the rugby stars of the future.”
Robertson emphasised that Stirling County has for the past three decades been at the forefront of rugby development in Scotland. He continued: “We recognise the importance of ensuring that our young players are given the best opportunities to develop their talent and enable their progression in the sport, and play to their highest potential.
“There are over 300 young players playing rugby at Stirling County with ages ranging from 7 to 18. Many of our young players have gone on to play for County’s first XV in the top flight of club rugby and have risen to higher levels in the sport.
“County’s under-18s are the most successful youth team in Scotland, and in 2012/13 won the National Youth League Cup for the third successive season and for the fifth time in six years, demonstrating the high quality of coaching within our Junior and Youth Rugby sections.”
Stirling County’s achievements in rugby development is further evidenced by six County players competing for Scotland under-20s in this year’s Six Nations Championship and the recent IRB Junior World Championship in France, and three under-18 players selected for the national age-grade sides. Three of County’s Women’s team have also been selected for national age-grade training squads.
The club also has strong links with local communities and schools, and through the club’s outreach rugby development programme, master-minded by rugby development officer Millan Browne, has introduced rugby to young players from all local areas and backgrounds, who are encouraged to play rugby at Bridgehaugh.
Stirling County’s first XV, who finished third in the RBS Premiership last season (highest placed finish for 17 years) will again be playing against the best sides in Scotland and the home nations in an increasingly competitive and attractive RBS Premiership and British & Irish Cup.
The under-18 and under-16 sides will be competing in the new National Youth Leagues and the women’s team will be making their debut in Premier One.
County’s second XV will be again competing in National Reserve League One and the development third XV will be playing in the Caledonian Midland League.
The midi and mini teams will have a full programme of fixtures and tournaments, including tours to Orthez (France) and England.
Photograph: Stirling County president Kevin Robertson (right of centre) and Waitrose Stirling branch manager Lindsay Clifford launch the new Waitrose Stirling County Rugby Academy with academy manager Millan Browne (left of centre) and County’s National Youth Cup winners Archie Russell and Andrew Stewart.
Press Note: Further information on Waitrose Stirling County Rugby Academy from Kevin Robertson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 07717545084.