Junior Gold Program tackles rugby and life skills

by Staff Writer

More than 200 under-15 to under-18 players will gather in Parramatta on Sunday for Australian Rugby Union's Junior Gold Program Position Specific Skills Day.

The half-day session will provide up-and-coming players with exposure to elite coaching, as they’re joined by current National Academy coach and former Qantas Wallabies coach

Andrew Blades, along with ARU High Performance Unit coaching staff and former Wallabies, James Grant and Stephen James.

ARU High Performance General Manager David Nucifora, said programs such as this, and the key work done with players to develop skills on and off the field, are critical to the future strength of the Australian Rugby landscape.

"The ARU has spent considerable time, human and financial resources in structuring a high-performance player pathway that is aligned and enhances player progression from a young age," Nucifora said.

"From the Junior Gold Program, which provides considerable access and opportunities to a large number of kids across Australia, to the National Academy program that prepares young players for entry and high performance at FxPro Super Rugby and Qantas Wallabies level, we have an aligned and detailed program of long-term player development."

All players will also attend an educational session on Illicit Drugs in Sport delivered by The No Way Campaign director Darren Marton. The Illicit Drugs in Sport Education program is a government education initiative supported by ARU, which provides young athletes with access to the knowledge to help combat drugs in sport.

Nucifora said these types of programs are important, as they work with players on their skill, physical and off-field development.

“The Illicit Drugs in Sport Education session at this weekend’s event is an example of arming talented young players with not only rugby skills, but skills away from the field that will improve their life skills and ultimately lead to the development of fine young men," Nucifora added.

NSW Junior Gold Program Co-Ordinator, Hugh Carpenter, said he was excited by the access to elite levels of coaching provided by days such as the Position Specific Skills Day.

"The Position Specific Skills Day will provide these talented young players with exposure to key areas of the game specific to their position, which will compliment the core skills practiced consistently within the Junior Gold Program," Carpenter said.

"Players will have access to high-level coaching in areas such a front row play and scrummaging, lineout throw, lineout, restarts, clearing pass, kicking, kick receipt and counter attack.

"These players are at the perfect age and ability level to start to be engaged in detailed practice respective to their preferred positions.

“We need to ensure that we build capability in areas of the game that are so important at the highest levels such as scrum, lineout and kicking."

The Junior Gold Program is a national talent development program for over 800 players from under-15 to under-18, co-ordinated by ARU’s High Performance Unit out of 10 centres in NSW and twenty-three centres nationally.

ARU High Performance coaches, along with selected club and school coaches, deliver the off-season and pre-season development program focussing on long term quality development on and off the field.

The Junior Gold Program represents the initial entry point to ARU’s Pathway to Gold talent development program, which underpins other national programs such as National Gold Squad (U16-18), National Academy (U18+) and national teams - Australian Schoolboys, Australian U20s and the Qantas Men’s and Women’s Sevens sides.

ARU’s Junior Gold Program is supported by the Commonwealth Government’s Illicit Drugs in Sport Education program.

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