Bath Rugby’s Partnership Programme Success

15 October 2018

Bath Rugby’s partnership programme at Beechen Cliff School has broken new ground achieving a host of historic victories in an unbeaten start to the first six rounds of the RFU Achieving Academic and Sporting Excellence (AASE) competition.
Whilst the AASE programme is a long-established part of the national School Rugby landscape, the partnership with Beechen Cliff school is showing signs of its long-term potential to develop some of the region’s best young players.  
The partnership sees Beechen Cliff school take responsibility for the academic programme for sixth-form students and Bath Rugby for the rugby and athletic development of the players who are part of the AASE programme.
The coaching programme, led by Ryan Davis with support from Bath Rugby Academy Staff Alan Murdoch (S&C) and Beechen Cliff’s Director of Rugby, Sean Turner is focused on developing game understanding alongside their technical, tactical and physical development. 
The past eight weeks have seen Beechen Cliff’s AASE side win six games from the first six rounds of the AASE Southern Conference. The squad scored 224 points in the first six games, with only 91 scored against them and have taken the maximum of five match points from every game. Notably, picking up an away win against Hartpury College in a 50-19 victory and a 24-17 win against Exeter college.  Both Hartpury and Exeter College were previously unbeaten in the South Conference League.
As they look to develop the type of attack-based game Bath Rugby is growing within the club recent results support the belief that this partnership will continue to emerge as an important part of Bath Rugby’s regional player pathway. 
The delivery of the coaching programme also sees the AASE squad train at Farleigh House on two days every week, which allows the AASE squad to be fully immersed within Bath Rugby environment, with some of the Academy’s best young 16-18 year olds rubbing shoulders with not only the coaches, but also the senior players from the Club on a weekly basis.
This is something Academy Manager Andy Rock feels only helps to reinforce the positioning of Bath Rugby's AASE programme at Beechen Cliff as being key to developing home grown players. 
 “The way the players in the programme are developing is great to see, but seeing this alongside the nature of their development, where they spend time with our staff and within our environment is one of the most important thing to recognise. 
“To have Nathan Catt, Will Chudley and Zach Mercer amongst others spending time with them, reviewing their games and supporting them on the days they are here at Farleigh House, as well as Ryan Davis leading the programme on a daily basis really is outstanding for these young men. They are connected to the club, and we are committed to them.” 
Looking ahead to the play off stages of the AASE programme, Beechen Cliff have a three week break in fixtures, not yet knowing who their opponents will be in the remaining four games of the AASE season. A number of the students from the programme will then progress to work with the Academy during the Premiership U18 competition in December and January. The experiences that the group can gain during the play-offs will be crucial for their continued development, with some more challenging games yet to come. 
Rock continued;
"The development of both high potential players and coaches, the investment in our regional player pathway and strength of our partnerships moving forwards are all incredibly important for our future. The next six to seven weeks which will see the collective group of players and support staff trying to develop themselves and each other, and to keep progressing within the competition.”
The first play-off game will be on Wednesday November 7th. Update to follow.

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