Bath Rugby Academy and Beechen Cliff School have formed an exciting new partnership to assist in the development of promising young rugby players in the Bath Rugby catchment area.
The Academic and Sporting Excellence (AASE) programme, which they will be delivering together, aims to provide an outstanding rugby and academic development program for talented young players to achieve their potential, both on and off the pitch.
The partnership provides a much-needed state school pathway to high level rugby, to mirror the well-established and successful existing partnerships that Bath Rugby has with a number of independent schools.
Danny Grewcock, Academy Director at Bath Rugby said: "We see this as a fantastic opportunity to provide an elite rugby pathway in an outstanding state school environment. Players will be able to take advantage of Beechen Cliff's successful sports programme, complemented by the school's strong reputation for high academic standards in its Sixth Form. The school has great facilities and coaching expertise and Bath Rugby will be working closely with the school to support their already very strong rugby programme and provide both players and coaches with first class support."
Andrew Davies, Beechen Cliff's Head Master, is excited by the potential benefits of the programme: "Beechen Cliff is delighted to be building a stronger partnership with Bath Rugby. We recognise there is great rugby talent in the region and this offers young players an opportunity that did not previously exist. Hopefully, some of these players will go on to secure professional contracts, but obviously not all will and it is important they receive a strong academic programme alongside the development of their rugby skills."
Beechen Cliff will be entering a Sixth Form team into the RFU's National AASE League starting in September 2015, playing fixtures against the AASE School/Colleges of the other 11 Aviva Premiership clubs. A number of Beechen Cliff students are already involved with Bath's Academy and they will be joined by others in next year's Sixth Form.
The programme is targeted 16 year old rugby players from within Bath's catchment of Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset, some of whom will be boarding in the school's new boarding house.
Sean Turner, Beechen Cliff's Director of Rugby, who will co-ordinate the programme, is excited by the challenges ahead: "The AASE League is a very high standard of rugby and we are looking forward to the challenge, but with Bath Rugby's support in areas such as strength and conditioning, match analysis, positional coaching and physiotherapy, the players will have the best opportunity to achieve their full potential."
Recent rugby graduates of Beechen Cliff include Kane Palma-Newport (Bath), Freddie Burns (Leicester), Billy Burns (Gloucester) and Lucas and Auguy Slowik (Bristol). Last year Beechen Cliff won the County Cup at all four available age-groups and it is hoped that the partnership with Bath Rugby will have benefits for all teams throughout the school. Next year, along with the AASE League the school will continue to run 1st and 2nd XVs against its traditional fixtures list. This will provide opportunities for many players to compete at a variety of levels.