For many young players attending a PSA Rugby Academy for the first time, the experience as a whole presents a unique opportunity for personal development, not just as an athlete but also as a person. For many of our players, particularly in the Minis (10-11 years) age group, the residential programme may be their first extended stay away from home without parental accompaniment. Our staff are particularly focussed on the onboarding of all players at the start of each programme, ensuring that the age-banded groups integrate and bond well to establish the positive and supportive environment needed for effective learning and fun.
Through the underlying principles of the C.A.R.D.S. framework (Creativity, Awareness, Resilience, Decision Making, Self-Organisation) first developed by the RFU, the PSA Rugby Academy programme looks to give players the chance to lead their peers in specific development-orientated sessions, allowing them to work together as groups and individuals to deliver the objectives and review performance from these sessions. One example from the programme is the daily Kangaroo Court, a fun evening activity that allows players and staff to review the best and worst aspects of that day’s programme. While light-hearted in delivery, the session does have specific learning objectives in that it positively challenges players to identify issues, represent themselves in presenting the pros and cons surrounding these and take responsibility for their involvement. Whilst there are clear rules and codes of conduct in place for all of our Academy programmes, where possible and appropriate, a supervised player-led approach to setting standards will help to deliver the best development outcomes for the group.
The introduction for 2019 of the Player’s Academy Journal will see players make conscious decisions around their goals for each Academy, working to clear development objectives by the end of that academy programme and beyond. This process very much reflects the behaviours expected of professional rugby players and coaches in taking responsibility for their continuing professional development. The PSA Rugby Academy Player Development Report that each player and their parents/guardians receive post-camp will summarise where each player is in terms of their core rugby skills competency and physical literacy/performance within their respective age grades. The importance of this information is less in benchmarking but more in providing SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant & Time-based) targets for a player’s ongoing development as an individual athlete.
Combining the Journal work with the Player Development Report should put each player in a very strong position to build on their potential into the future, with further benchmarking via ongoing attendance at the PSA Rugby Academies and/or through each player’s own club/school rugby environment or representative structures.
Lastly, four key principles underpin all of our Academy programmes;
- Focus – developing each player on and off the field
- Simplicity – delivering engaging and easy-to-understand programmes from start to finish
- Innovation – bringing the best professional sports know-how and experiences to each Academy
- Excellence – delivering the best high-performance youth rugby academies in the market
The positive contribution of our players is absolutely key to the delivery of excellence at our PSA Rugby Academies. Our company values are based on respect for each other and the game of rugby union, teamwork, diligence and a commitment to being the best we can be. We expect and ask every player to buy into these values when they attend our camps and we work hard to make sure that every player feels welcome, involved and fully enjoys the experience at camp, creating lifelong friendships in the process.