Hartpury College, the English nursery club that helped propel Gloucester’s Louis Rees-Zammit on the way to likely Test stardom with Wales, have teamed up with some Welsh PRO14 clubs in the hope of assisting other future stars. More than 200 Hartpury alumni have played international rugby or signed professional contracts around the world, including Lions and Wales wing Alex Cuthbert, back row Ross Moriarty and Rees-Zammit.

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With a rise in players committing to their respective Welsh regions, the partnership will enable players to undertake A-levels and diploma qualifications at Hartpury College – rated Ofsted Outstanding for its academic provision – while continuing to remain part of their Welsh club’s U18 academy.

Two of the latest students looking to benefit from this dual career pathway while remaining with their regional academies will begin their studies at Hartpury in September – Louie Hennessy-Booth (Cardiff Blues) will take A-levels and Josh Hathaway (Scarlets) has enrolled on the level three national diploma sport (rugby).

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The student players will also enjoy access to Hartpury College’s highly qualified coaches and state-of-the-art training facilities, including its new £8.8million sports academy, as members of its acclaimed junior rugby academy.

Junior academy manager Wayne Thompson said: “We’re delighted to be working with regional clubs in Wales to provide their academy players with an opportunity to gain an academic qualification from an Ofsted Outstanding institution as well as continuing to play rugby with their respective regions.

“An increasing number of players aged 16 to 18 are realising that it would be rewarding for their future career prospects to gain an academic qualification alongside their chosen rugby academy. As a specialist institution, we try to be as flexible as possible with the diploma and A-level courses that college-level students can study, which means they can combine different subject areas with their rugby development.

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“It means our students can fully capture a broad range of academic disciplines and continue to play top-level rugby, which they may not be able to do elsewhere, so they enjoy the best of both worlds.”

Cardiff Blues boss John Mulvihill added: “We have some great partnerships within our region and are proud of our development pathway with some excellent rugby and educational opportunities. However, we must keep broadening our horizons as, for many young players and their parents, there is the natural urge to look at different opportunities and benefits.

“When we look through an objective lens, and our academy staff have spent quality time with Wayne and his department, it’s clear that Hartpury has similarly aligned programmes that promote rugby excellence with fantastic educational support, which is really important in helping our players grow on and off the field.

“Academy manager Gruff Rees and our academy staff are delighted to work closely with Hartpury and feel it will be great for Louie to challenge himself in a different environment but with appropriate A-level options and a strong support network with his family and ongoing connection and time with Cardiff Blues.

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Kev George, Scarlets academy manager, said:  “At the Scarlets we are aware of the diverse needs of our young players and the importance of partnership to allow them to maximise their potential. We are happy to be entering into a partnership with Hartpury that will allow the players to stay within the Scarlets set-up.”

 

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