A huge step forward for the Blues was taken this summer as they moved in to their new training centre.
Today the Blues welcomed sponsors, a large number of media representatives and other partners to the centre and despite the bad weather, there was great interest and a fantastic response.
The Hensol Castle training facility in the heart of the region is amongst the best rugby union training facilities in Britain. It is sure to benefit the whole region with academy players coming through the ranks training there also.
Professional sportsmen require the right facilities for them to perform to their potential on the pitch and the Blues realise this.
We used to have to travel between the University playing fields in Cardiff's Llanrumney district, the David Lloyd centre and Cardiff Arms Park to train which would take up a lot of time.
"The facilities are first class and to have everything on one site is sure to benefit the squad and we can spend more time on preparation and training. David Young said.
The new facilities include:
a newly laid playing field
a new gym
a video analysis room where each player can study their own game or the opposition
a squad debrief room
players lounge and kitchen for them to relax
use of the WRU indoor barn
offices for the coaches, fitness instructors and video analysis
Successful visits to various events during the summer with stands in the Tesco Kids Festival, the URDD National Eisteddfod and Royal Welsh Show have gone down well with the supporters from across the region also this summer.
Robert Norster, Cardiff Blues Chief Executive said With the expansion of the Blues region up to Builth Wells we felt it was important to have a presence at the Royal Welsh Show. It was great to see so many of our supporters up there, and the future seems very bright with youngsters from all around the region having an opportunity to meet their heroes and being coached by some of the players. It was the first time that we have visited and we hope to return next year. We will also have stands in the three universities within our region when the students return in September
As well as the community side the Blues have also been busy on the coaching front. The Blues now have 4 former Lions as their coaching team after Robert Howley joined them as Backs Coach this summer. The former Cardiff, Wales and British Isles scrum-half, will work with Director of Rugby David Young while Richard Webster takes up s full time post as Forwards Coach and Neil Jenkins as Kicking Coach.
The Blues also strengthened their presence in the region further by holding a hugely successful coaching clinic in Pontypridd RFC. Over 130 coaches from the 56 clubs throughout the region attended the clinic which was aimed at coaches who aspired to develop new ideas and techniques used in the professional game. The coaching clinic was followed 10 days later by a very constructive friendly match between Pontypridd RFC and the Cardiff Blues. Over 3000 supporters turned up for the game.
We are glad to be the first region to hold such a clinic in a regional club and it was great to play up at Sardis Road. The response from the supporters was particularly encouraging. Its great that people from Pontypridd are beginning to feel part of the Blues region and the feedback we received was very positive. Many of them were looking forward to coming down to watch the Blues play the Scarlets in a classic East v West derby on the 12th of September. Robert Norster said.
Seven members of the Pontypridd squad are also in the Blues Academy with the development of young talent within the region one of the key aims for the Blues.
The talent within the region is astounding. When you look at all the international and Lions players that come from within the Blues region it makes you realise how important it is for us to develop the new generation of players David Young said.
The Blues squad has also been strengthened with the additions from Cardiff RFC, Im delighted that our young players are coming through the ranks. The success of Chris Czekai climbing from Llandaff to Cardiff RFC to Blues to Wales is proof that the regional set up is working. Its also great to see Nathan Llewelyn getting a regional contract.
We have also recruited wisely this summer with Mike Phillips and Andy Powell joining us from the Scarlets, Marc Stcherbina from Northampton Saints and Xavier Rush from the Auckland Blues added David Young.