BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy reaches significant milestone
Scottish Rugby launched its new talent development pathway, the BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy at BT Murrayfield on Saturday (27 June). Some 87 of the nation's most promising male and female rugby players became the first tranche of inductees to enter the brand new academy at a special opening event at the home of Scottish Rugby.The players were presented with their Academy jerseys unique to the four regions - Borders and East Lothian, Caledonia, Edinburgh and Glasgow and the West - in which they will be based, from current Scotland internationalists, who have come through the previous Elite Development Player programme. The players have been identified to enter the four Academy facilities as Scottish Rugby aims to deepen the pool of players capable of competing at the top levels of the game and strengthen its player development pathway.The announcement sees one of Scottish Rugby's major policy initiatives, announced in November 2013, come to fruition.Scottish Rugby has secured a series of fundamental national and regional partners, which will play a vital role in the delivery of the BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy and put in place a permanent infrastructure to help future proof the game.Scottish Rugby Chief Executive, Mark Dodson, said: "Improving the depth and quality of our player pool has been an absolute priority for some time now, and today's induction is a significant achievement on that path."In recent years we have seen a high standard of international players coming through our Elite Development Player programme, but in this ever-evolving sport we must keep improving how we bring through the next generation of players."Scottish Rugby thanks BT, and our regional partners, who have bought into our vision and helped bring it to fruition.We set ourselves a target 18 months ago to deliver a national academy structure and we have delivered on that."Scott Johnson, Scottish Rugby's Director of Rugby, said: "The world of rugby doesn't stand still. We need to constantly ensure our young talent has access to the best possible facilities, development programmes and expertise, to help us bring on players who are prepared for the rigours of professional and international rugby. "Developing the logistics for the new structure has been our first challenge. We now move into the operational phase, and I believe we have the right team in place to make that a success."It is intended the BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy will have a positive impact on all levels of the game, with its players contributing to the top level of domestic rugby, continuing contact with the two pro-teams and in contention for selection to international age-grade and representative sides. Each player will benefit from bespoke strength, conditioning, medical and playing facilities and expertise, from both the dedicated Academy staff and from the continued partnership with the sportscotland Institute of Sport.They will also be encouraged and enabled to take on further education and employment opportunities during their time in the BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy, to help develop their lives outside of rugby.Scottish Rugby Head of Academy and Performance Programmes, Stephen Gemmell, said: "The BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy will provide our players with state-of-the-art facilities and support, whilst immersing them in a professional rugby environment. This is a hugely exciting time for Scottish Rugby. There has been a great deal of hard work put in to get us to this stage and the announcement of the players today is the final piece of the implementation jigsaw."Now the focus turns to everyone working together to ensure that the players make best use of the opportunities afforded to them".Brendan Dick, Director of BT Scotland, said: "From the beginning we have set out to support Scottish Rugby at all levels of the game with a specific focus on creating a positive impact in local communities."The BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy will give young people playing rugby at clubs throughout Scotland a real target to aim for in terms of their personal development. Our investment will help develop these players as athletes and as people who can bring the skills they have learned back to their clubs, schools and communities." Netherdale campusIt has also been confirmed that the BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy, Borders and East Lothian will operate from the Netherdale Campus, in Galashiels. This is the fourth and final facility to be announced and has been made possible through a partnership with Heriot-Watt University, Borders College, Gala Junior Rugby Council and the Borders Sport and Leisure Trust.Chris Dewsnap, the Borders and East Lothian Academy Manager, and his staff will have access to state-of-the-art gym facilities at TriFitness and the 3G pitch at Fairydean, while Heriot-Watt will provide office, rehab and medical space, with Hayward Pavilion hosting changing and on-field medical facilities. Borders College will provide access to the gym and will offer additional office space.Dewsnap said: The partners that have come together across the region have allowed us to produce the required facilities that will support players towards their ambition of professional rugby and playing for Scotland. "Each individual part of the campus provides excellent facilities that will allow the players to work hard towards developing all aspects of their performance and continue to contribute to the strong rugby tradition in the region.