Posted by SCL Education Group on 03.12.15
Blackheath Chairman Russell Ticehurst sees his club’s Academy system as a winner for three reasons.
First it involves his historic club in the local community.
Second it provides would-be rugby players with the education they will need for the rest of their lives.
And third, it identifies players for his National One League side’s elite squad who make up the Blackheath first and second teams.
Blackheath set up their Academy three years ago in partnership with SCL, an innovative private education training provider that allows grassroots and professional rugby clubs to inspire youngsters in their communities into education and develop future first team stars.
Ticehurst says: “First and foremost we want to place Blackheath at the heart of our community, build relationships with schools and other rugby clubs.
“But there’s no doubting the vital importance of giving these young rugby players a proper education which will stand them in good stead whether or not they eventually make it as professional players.”
Blackheath take in 40 boys each year between the ages of 16-18 and instil rigid rules.
Ticehurst explains: “We have two trials days and select from those. Obviously we look for rugby ability and fitness, but we also want boys who have reached certain standards with their GCSEs. When they join us they are expected to maintain excellent standards in time-keeping, discipline and willingness to learn. That’s all essential to keep the class-room functioning in a way that helps the tutors.”
Four boys from the first intake have progressed to join the Blackheath elite squad, including front row forward Jake Buckingham who made his first team debut last season and has now gone on to the University of Bath.
SCL helps to ensure that all Academy players have vital academic qualifications to fall back on. SCL’s Managing Director and Co-founder, Lewis Field, told The Rugby Paper: “Our Academy programme uses the power of rugby as a tool to motivate and encourage young people to stay in education while keeping one eye on the dream of progressing through the ranks to the first team or for other opportunities in men’s rugby.”
“Russell Ticehurst and the Academy team at Blackheath are a shining example of how to run a first class Academy. For them it’s all about player experience. They are they forward-thinking, offer a fantastic rugby programme and great facilities, and also ensure their players develop as young men. And having recently extended our partnership for a further two years, we are excited about what we can deliver going forward.”
By making a partnership with SCL, clubs can create their own private academies where players can earn a BTEC Diploma in Sport or extended Diploma as well as qualifications in Maths, English and sports coaching. For clubs who have community schemes, players also undertake work experience and coach at schools or holiday camps.
SCL also offers the unique opportunity for rugby clubs to run the Academy programme from their own ground or facility with SCL managing and delivering the education programme and the club running the rugby programme. This approach is crucial as it helps to fully immerse the players into the club environment, while also making it easier for the club and SCL to create a bespoke timetable that encompasses both education and rugby training.
Partnership Director and Co-founder of the organisation, Steve Franks, told The Rugby Paper that SCL is always looking for new opportunities and that “whether clubs have an existing Academy and are looking for an alternative education provider or want to set a programme up from scratch, SCL has the expertise, support structure and experience to make it happen.”
This piece first appeared in The Rugby Paper on Sunday, October 4th.