Chadd Mutyambizi will once again lead the Cardiff under-18 coaching team in the upcoming Regional Age Grade Championship campaign.
The Blue and Blacks were within a whisker of securing the title last season, but were pipped by Dragons in a dramatic finale at Ystrad Mynach.
However, action is set to kick off imminently, as Cardiff take on their Welsh rivals across 10 rounds - starting with a trip to RGC this Sunday, December 11. The Blue and Blacks’ home matches will take place at Cardiff Arms Park, with entry included in 22/23 Season Memberships.
Joining Mutyambizi in the back-room staff are former Bath Rugby age grade coach, George Tavner, who takes charge of the backs and attack, Lee Davies who will oversee the forwards while Damien Regis is appointed team manager. Rebecca O’Reilly - supported by Ethan Wynne - will be leading the team’s strength and conditioning over the course of the campaign and beyond, and Brooklyn Hicks-Williams will be the side's lead analyst.
Reflecting on the appointments, academy manager Gruff Rees said: “We’re pleased with the coaching group assembled this year. They’re good guys with a real good appreciation for the game.
“We’ve carefully picked coaches who understand the game but also understand the principles that we’re looking at and how they sit within that age group and where it fits around the overall philosophy around individual development of players.
“So we’re not too focused on outcome and team-based stuff, and the rugby programme we’ve put in complements that ethos.
“But more importantly for me, we’ve got guys who have a real empathy for development, which is key for those relationships with the players and parents.
“They know the balance around being a ‘bad cop’ - when we look at standards and behaviours, which is critical for us - while having empathy for the things these players won’t know and we’ll need to educate them on. We want to help them see the game, and the world, a little bit differently.
“It’s vitally important for us to support them academically and with the challenges they face off the field. So we’ve got coaches that won’t be as relentless as is perhaps perceived. They’ll give these young men the space to problem-solve and be creative.
“We want to get to know these players as people, that’s key for me, and see how they react around the building, to certain level of feedback and to the challenges ahead of them. It’s all part of the Talent Identification process.
“A lot of the players are coming into camp on the back of a really successful block of schools and colleges rugby. We’re fortunate to our age grade system underpinned by excellent A licence programmes.
“However, with a busy calendar at club, schools and regional age grade level, it is vital that we manage their workload and make their welfare a priority.”
Cardiff Under-18 Men Fixtures*
Sunday, December 11 - RGC v Cardiff
Monday, December 19 - Cardiff v Scarlets - Cardiff Arms Park
Wednesday, January 11 - Dragons RFC v Cardiff
Wednesday, January 18 - Cardiff v Ospreys - Cardiff Arms Park
Sunday, January 29 - Cardiff v RGC - Cardiff Arms Park
Wednesday, February 1 - Scarlets v Cardiff
Wednesday, February 15 - Cardiff v Dragons - Cardiff Arms Park
Wednesday, February 22 - Ospreys v Cardiff
*Subject to late changes