Cardiff Rugby under-17 will head into action later this month as they face a trio of clashes against their Welsh counterparts.
With the pandemic impacting the playing time of young rugby players across the country, a series of under 17 fixtures have been organised to provide youngsters with valuable opportunities to feature in representative age grade rugby.
Cardiff, who will enter one combined side for the series, start their campaign with a trip to Ystrad Mynach to take on Dragons Black on Wednesday, August 18 (KO 7.15pm).
A week later they welcome Dragons Red to Cardiff Arms Park for their only home encounter of the block (KO 7.15pm) before hitting the road to finish their campaign away to RGC on Sunday August 29 (KO 1.30pm).
Training is already underway as head coach Chadd Mutyambizi takes charge of a coaching team who have extensive experience of coaching development rugby within the region.
Former Wales international, Catrina Nicholas, who now works with Coleg y Cymoedd, will work with the forwards while Cardiff Met’s Dr Gethin Thomas takes the lead on the defence.
Former Scarlets outside half, Gareth Bowen, is named backs and attack coach, having coached Cynon Schools in the Dewar Shield, and is assisted by Llyr Davies, who is appointed skills coach after spending the last year working within the Cardiff Schools' Dewar Shield programme.
Talent pathway manager, Aled James, said: “We’re really excited for this block of fixtures. It’s been a tough year for boys of this age as they would’ve felt like they’ve missed out on a lot of playing opportunities at a key time in their development.
“This opportunity will help bridge the gap before they head into under-18 rugby further down the line. In these circumstances, it’s crucial that we’re adaptable compared to the traditional pathway calendar, and this series is a fantastic example of how we’re able to come together in Wales and minimise the development opportunities that were lost due to the pandemic.
“To be able to give them this chance is hugely important for them personally but also to our pathway and talent identification process. The boys are excited to finally get back out there on the field and they will benefit from the overall experience, both on and off the field.
“Training has been going well and we’ve had up to 80 boys coming into camp, which allows us to keep a close eye on a wide net of boys while also giving them top quality coaching from our experienced backroom team.
“In some cases, we’ve decided it will be more beneficial for certain individuals to stay with their schools and colleges ahead of the new season, which will kick off with inter-regional games in September.
“We’re blessed to have strong working relationships with each of our schools and colleges and it’s testament to those relationships that we’re able to tailor each individual programme to best serve the players themselves.
“They regularly compete at the top end of the table and the quality of their programme means they also serve as crucial development platforms for aspiring youngsters in our region, and we've also worked closely with Glantaf and Coleg y Cymoedd in the build up to these fixtures by co-operating in opposed training sessions."
18 August 2021 - Dragons Black v Cardiff Rugby - Ystrad Mynach (KO 7.15pm)
25 August 2021 - Cardiff Rugby v Dragons Red - Cardiff Arms Park (KO 7.15pm)
29 August 2021 - RGC v Cardiff Rugby (KO 1.30pm)