New youth rugby academy kicks-off

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April Ishida started playing rugby when she was 11 and is now part of Gateshead College’s Women’s Rugby Academy

Budding young rugby players from across the region are to benefit from a new initiative which will boost training and development opportunities.

Gateshead College is launching a new Junior Rugby Academy, the first of its kind in the North East, to support young school-age players from across the region who want to find out more about playing rugby after their GCSEs.

The academy will open to young rugby players aged 14 to 16 and is available to all genders. It offers playing opportunities combined with access to first class facilities and high quality training at the college’s Academy for Sport.

Phil Wallis, head rugby coach at Gateshead College, is leading the programme. He has over 10 years of coaching experience, having previously been employed by England Rugby, the Newcastle Falcons, West Hartlepool RFC and Consett RFC. He was also part of the coaching team at DMP Durham Sharks that secured their best ever finish in the top tier of the women’s game - the Tyrell’s Premier 15’s.

Phil said: “We’ve launched the Junior Rugby Academy to offer a unique opportunity for talented young players to experience what it’s like to train and play for Gateshead College. They’ll get to meet our team, use our world-class facilities and enjoy a taste of the benefits of being a sport academy student.

“This is a fantastic programme for any young person who is looking to develop their rugby now and who wants to find out more about continuing that development after school while studying with us.”

The Junior Rugby Academy will run during half-term and members will benefit from expert training and coaching, a strength and conditioning session and an individual development plan.

Junior Rugby Academy members will get a taste of what it’s like to be part of Gateshead College’s Academy for Sport. If they decide to study at the college after leaving school, they’ll be able to go on to join the college’s Rugby Academy. They’ll be able to study any full-time course at Gateshead College and have their timetable tailored around training sessions and fixtures.

April Ishida, 17, started playing rugby when she was 11 and is now part of Gateshead College’s Women’s Rugby Academy where she is also studying a BTEC in Sport.

“When looking at sixth forms and other colleges in my last year of school, no one else could offer what Gateshead College is able to; I can play the sport I love, whilst working towards a qualification.”

For more information contact Phil Wallis on email

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Sat May 21 2022