Source: Robbie Stephenson/JMP

Women and Girls given greater development opportunities

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Women and girls coming through the England Rugby pathways programme will have greater and more equitable access to training and development, following the announcement of a bolstered Centre of Excellence network.
  • The number of centres will increase with a new base to be established in Kent
  • England Rugby Centre of Excellence locations will better target player needs
  • The changes will support players through England Rugby’s Development Framework

As part of the RFU’s continued commitment to accelerating the growth of the women’s game through the Every Rose strategy, the number of Centres of Excellence will increase with a new base to be established in Kent and the former Wasps centre moving to the Thames Valley.

The changes aim to promote a player-centred approach and will mean reduced travel distances for the majority of players, increased access to training with session locations to rotate throughout each centre’s region, and more opportunities for player progression.

Led by England Rugby, existing and new partnerships are in place with Premier 15s clubs, colleges and schools, and Constituent Bodies (CBs), all of whom are integral to the success of England Rugby Centres of Excellence.

As a result of the review of England Rugby Centres of Excellence, there will also be increased support for parents, coaches and staff to ensure all available assistance is maximised.

Head of Performance Pathways and Programmes Donald Barrell said: “The Centres of Excellence have been very successful since their introduction three years ago, and now, having reviewed the whole pathway, we’ve made further investments to accelerate the performance strategy and emergence of future Red Roses through a home Rugby World Cup in 2025 and beyond to 2029.

“The recent launch of the England Rugby Developing Player Programme in every county means we have a broader base of players, which has only complemented the enormous interest generated by the England women’s team at Rugby World Cup 2021. Therefore, our Centre of Excellence model is growing to make sure we provide a bottom-to-top pathway from first engagement to Red Roses.

“We’re dedicating resources and driving improvements at every level, ensuring our youth players can explore the boundaries of their individual capabilities.

“These improvements ensure a player-centred approach to individual development, allowing the RFU, clubs, colleges and schools, and CBs to focus on their long-term needs and holistic development.”

Centre of Excellence Lead, Emily Mumford said: “Increasing the number of England Rugby Centres of Excellence and rotating locations around will allow us to provide a more diverse and inclusive system.

“Since the launch of the Centres of Excellence three years ago, we’ve worked very closely with all stakeholders; clubs, colleges, schools and CBs, so thank you to them for their hard work, expertise and commitment to individual player development.

“This is just the latest move in a continually developing support system and talent pathway to ensure we’re capturing and developing players in the girls’ and women’s game. We will continue to review our Centres of Excellence to ensure all talented female players have access to our talent pathway as the game continues to grow.

“All players will be able to receive additional support both on and off the field, regardless of location, while we will also be proactively working on relationships with parents, coaches and staff to ensure we maximise the support available.”

With thanks to the RFU