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Blues Academy goes from strength to strength

5th August 2013

The WRU's Blues Academy, which has produced the likes of Lions: Alex Cuthbert, Leigh Halfpenny, Jamie Roberts and Sam Warburton, is again producing a new batch of players for the Blues senior side

Four players will be moving up from the Blues Academy to the ‘Developing Blues’ this season with Ben Roach, Aled Summerhill, Tom Pascoe and Wales Under 20s captain Ellis Jenkins all taking the step up.

In all the Blues had seven players representing Wales at Under20s, plus Rhys Patchell and Harry Robinson also taking the step up from Under 20s to become senior Wales' internationals, clearly showing that the pathway is working.

In many ways it was a bittersweet season for the Blues Under 18 who won 11 of their 12 matches, with the only loss coming in the Age Grade Final losing by 19 points to 18 against the Scarlets. The Blues South Under 16s were also finalists but missed out also against the Scarlets.

It is an exciting period for Age Grade rugby with Cowbridge High School appointing Cardiff Blues Player Development Officer Matt Silva as full time Director of Rugby. In the north of the region Coleg Morgannwg has 30 students receiving 12 hours of rugby coaching alongside their education classes.

At Under 15 level the Blues region provided three teams in the semi-final of the Dewar Shield with Rhondda going on to beat Pontypridd in the final.

Ysgol Glantaf, Cardiff defeated Coleg Sir Gar from Carmarthenshire in the schools final, while Coleg Morgannwg were runners up to Coleg Sir Gar in the Colleges' Final.

WRU Cardiff Blues Academy Manager Richard Hodges said,

"A lot of people have done a lot of work over the last 12 months to develop players from within the region.

“The WRU pathway is conducive to talent development and allows us to work with these players through the Regional Age Grade competition.

“Last season we won 26/32 games, so teams were successful in getting to the latter stages of competitions which is where we want to be to make real judgements on players in pressurised environments.

“Next season 70% of the Blues 1st team squad will have come through the Academy system.

“Furthermore, last season we had 38 players pulling on the red Welsh shirt at age grade and 7s levels just from this region, so we have solid foundations moving forward to build on and work hard with."