NSW’s best young talent to take on rest of country in revamped junior development pathway
It’s a massive few months for some of the state’s best and brightest as NSW Rugby’s Generation Blue test themselves on a national stage.
The U15 and U16 Generation Blue squads will head to their respective National Championships during October, while the U18 side will face off against the Brumbies and Reds Academies in September.
NSW will enter three sides into the Australia Junior Gold Cup (U15), while two sides will compete in the National Championships (U16).
The selection of these squads marks the culmination of months of work from NSW Rugby’s Head of Talent Management, Andrew Cleverley and Pathways Coordinator, Matt Evrard – who have tirelessly scoured the state’s pathways.
Evrard said that while he and Cleverley watched countless hours of rugby themselves, NSWRU also relies on a network of talent scouts to identify the best young players for representative honours.
“There’s so many opportunities for players to enter our pathway across NSW with School, State and Country Championships, alongside school selection trials and talent combines – we wanted to cast the net as wide as possible,” Evrard said.
“Our pathway allows any player the opportunity to make that step into Generation Blue and [potentially] beyond, it’s important we see them competing at a high level to best understand their ability within their age group and our pathway offers that.
“This is an extensive process that begins in late-March and runs until teams are selected in late-July, we cover a lot of kilometres and get to see the depth of talent on offer across the state.
“It’s extremely competitive and it’s a difficult task to narrow down [our selections] but we’re really happy with the calibre of players that will represent New South Wales.”
Amid their scouting of schoolboy rugby, colts and club games from Ballina to Bathurst the pair also oversee intensive camps at NSWRU’s Daceyville training base.
Cleverley said the concept of bringing players into a development pathway from a very young age was about educating them in the holistic approach that’s required to succeed in a professional rugby environment.
“I think the biggest thing is stressing the approach that’s required by these boys to look after themselves and their bodies as they grow, understanding what’s required to potentially deal with the rigours of professional sport,” Cleverly said.
“If we can get players to understand that from a young age – how they need to look after themselves, the way they carry themselves in a team environment – then we can start to see them come into a professional rugby really prepared.”
“To have players across multiple age groups playing rugby at the highest level can only be beneficial for their development and following this we’ll identify players to take part in specific Academy programs over the off season.”
THE LOOMING SCHEDULE
U15 Junior Gold Cup: 28 September – 5 October 2019; Easts Rugby Club, Sydney
U16 National Championships: 28 September – 5 October 2019; Canberra, ACT
U18 NSW Gen Blue fixtures
NSW Gen Blue v ACT : Saturday 15 September; David Phillips Sports Complex, Daceyville
QLD Reds v NSW Gen Blue: Saturday 22 September; Ballymore
This article originally appeared in the Rugby News Shute Shield Grand Final Program.