Chichester College rugby chief Steve Woolcombe has told of his delight at the official launch of its new rugby academy, which is supported by the Rugby Football Union (RFU).
The college has been unveiled as one of 21 RFU Focus Colleges, part of programme which aims to support player development and build new routes into the sport.
The academy will provide structured, high quality coaching to rugby players studying across a variety of courses at Chichester College.
They will also benefit from individual technical development as well as physical development with the use of the facilities at the college sports centre.
The college academy is looking to build links with local clubs, to provide pathways into the sport and aid player development.
Mr Woolcombe, also a Chichester College lecturer, said: “This is a fantastic project and we are looking forward to working closely with the RFU to encourage more of our students to take up rugby.
“We’re already seeing the impact, with a great turn out at our first training sessions and attracting some brilliant support through shirt sponsorship.
“And, most importantly, it will help to provide opportunities for our players to develop their involvement in the sport and, hopefully, help them to pursue careers in the sport.”
Over the past three years, the RFU has been delivering a range of targeted rugby programmes at colleges across the England and the launch of Focus College sees the RFU working with FE providers to help push the development of rugby union.
Hamish Morton, Further Education RFU Development Officer, said: “We are delighted to welcome Chichester College into the England Rugby Focus Colleges programme. This partnership hopes to develop participants through rugby, both on and off the pitch, creating employable young people with transferable skills.”
Andrew Green, Executive Principal at Chichester College, added: “This is an exciting chance for Chichester College to play a key role in developing the sport in Chichester and the wider area.
“We are committed to offering our students the best opportunities, and this is just one of the ways we are able to deliver just that.
“We are proud to be home to an outstanding sports department, as we know how important sport, fitness and wellbeing is to ensuring our students can flourish.
“This is the latest development, and our Rugby Academy follows hot on the heels of our Football Academy and our involvement in Junior Leaders’ Field Gun competitions.”