Warriors Academy – Behind the Scenes

Academy Outreach Coach Chim Gale believes Warriors’ youth set-up is to make big strides over the next few years.

The new Development Player Pathway (DPP) has been taking shape over recent months as the club looks to expand its outreach and find the next crop of Sixways talent.

He said: “The big thing with the DPP is the relationship we have built with the two counties and all the coaches which has allowed us to bring everyone together and host festivals.

“It’s not just about getting players full-time at Warriors but it’s about the whole of the standard of rugby being raised in the West Midlands and hopefully as a bi-product we get the top-end athletes.”

Warriors have age-groups at Under 13, 14, 15, 16 and 18, in which the youngsters begin playing competitive matches at Under 15 level.

And the Coach admits he is looking to find more fixtures for each group to help them gain more experience against the best sides.

He explained: “I’ve told the players I will look for the most difficult games I can find them because that’s how they test themselves.

“The important thing is the DPP coaches and their clubs who see these guys outside of Sixways on a weekly basis and that makes a massive difference.

“Everyone is preaching the same core values and working towards the same thing. When they come together to practice at Sixways it’s seamless despite them never having met each other before.”

Some of the current Under 18s have represented Worcester Cavaliers in the Aviva A League this season and Gale is not surprised at the youngsters having been given such opportunities.

He admitted: “It’s not surprising to see some of these 17-year-olds playing in the Cavaliers. Jon Hughes did it last year and one or two others have.

“We’ve had Under 18s Callum Young, Sam Smith, Huw Taylor, Andrew Kitchener and Hughes all play for the Cavaliers this season. People are making those steps up a little bit earlier.

“Those players fit those bills. I’d like to think there are players in the area below that will be in the same position and within the next three to five years we will start seeing the processes that have been put underneath by people like Nick Johnston and Dean Ryan.

“They have really put their weight on the academy to make sure these things happen.”

The Academy Coach insists winning is not everything with the youngsters, despite the Under 15s and 16s having been very successful this season.

He continued: “The Under 15s and 16s have only lost one game each this season so we have some really strong teams coming through.

“Whether we win by one point or lose by ten points, as long as the performance is there and you can pick bits out and give people appropriate feedback, that’s what is going to make them better.

“Sometimes they have to learn some harsh lessons like losing by a couple of points because you find out who wants it a little bit more. It’s not just what they can do on the pitch. It’s about characteristics.

“But you’ve got to give them some praise and there’s no denying I jump up and down when they go out and win.”

Gale said the Under 15s’ 14-10 win over Exeter Chiefs earlier this season epitomised what these young sides are about.

He added: “I spoke to the boys when they were under the posts with ten minutes to go at Exeter.

“I told them: “You’re 10-0 down. You’ve got ten minutes to score 12 points if you want to win this.

“They went and got two converted tries in the last ten minutes to win 14-10 and that’s what these youngsters are all about.”

And Gale insists there are key roles for parents and teachers to play in helping these youngsters progress as far as they can up the rugby ladder.

He concluded: “A vital component of this set-up is the guys that see these kids play. It’s the parents giving them support, giving them lifts and travelling around. You can’t underestimate how important that is.

“The school teachers and headmasters backing these kids to keep going is significant, and crucially, the countless volunteers in the West Midlands that are organising these events, putting county sides together and giving up all of their free time to make sure this happens.

“These figures are the key to success and it is for us coaches to go out and help do whatever we can.”