U21 DEVELOPMENT ACADEMY

The Vancouver Rowing Club Rugby Academy is a program focused on developing talented youth players and bridging the transition from junior to senior rugby.

Academy players train and play together in the BC U19 league through the fall and then are seeded into senior men’s teams in the spring according to their abilities and physical attributes. Although expected to train with their designated team in the spring, Academy members will have specialized training together and will continue to enjoy all the other supports and services of the Academy. The Academy term is September 1st of each year until May 15th of the following year.

To be invited to the Academy, you must possess four basic prerequisites:

  1. a passion for rugby.
  2. a competitive spirit.
  3. the basic physical attributes of a rugby player.
  4. the desire to improve yourself to maximum potential both on and off the field. 

PLAYER RECRUITMENT

The Vancouver Rowing Club Rugby Academy is a completely new concept. At present, the few academies that exist in Canada are either ‘passive’ – waiting for players to come to them – or they are ‘exclusive’ in that they are designed only for older players who have already demonstrated elite player potential.

Our Academy is designed to be “active”. We travel across BC and Alberta to seekout talented players at the high school
graduate level who have not yet had the opportunity to fully develop their abilities, and we invite them to join the Academy. While other academies often involve significant amounts of tuition or other expense, the VRC Academy is entirely free outside of the club membership dues ($150 annually), which include full access to all facilities. Members simply have to get themselves to Vancouver and we take care of the rest.

PLAYER SUPPORT

The entire purpose of the Academy is to create a supportive, focused environment in which young players can develop their skills, their understanding of the game, their physical conditioning and their mental preparation. Academy players will be taught by outstanding coaches and former players, and they will be mentored by current Premier level players from Rowing Club. Members will also have access to free physiotherapy services, strength/conditioning direction and nutritional advice.

The Academy also assists the development of its members outside of rugby. Those players coming from outside the Lower Mainland are set up in family “home stay” living arrangements where they can live affordably without having to worry about security deposits, utilities, buying furniture or dealing with unruly roommates. All players are assisted with finding gainful employment through the Rowing Club’s vast network of industry contacts and those wishing to attend college or university are given free financial advice as well as counseling on educational options.

ACADEMY OVERSEAS EXCHANGE PROGRAM

In addition, each year will see at least two Academy players selected to represent the Rowing Club on exchange with our sister club, Sunnybank RFC, in Brisbane Australia. The exchange runs from January to July, and the players will have their airfare fully covered. The selected players will have a unique opportunity to live, work and play rugby at a club that boasts a thousand players and a semi-professional premier grade team that feeds the Queensland Reds Super 14 squad.

History

The Academy program has been running since 2008, and the U19 Academy side competing in the BC Tier 1 league has had considerable success already, never finishing out of the top four:

2008 Mainland finalists
2009 Mainland semi-finalists
2010 BC Champions
2011 Mainland semi-finalists

Coaches

The Academy program is coached by some of the best talent the VRC rugby program has to offer.

  Matt James
Backs Coach and Ex-Player (Fullback, Centre, Standoff)
Teams:  Wales, Bridgend, Bourgoin, VRC
 

Richard Bice
Scrum Coach and Ex-Player (Tighthead Prop)
Teams: Canada, Ste. Foy La Grande, UVic, VRC

   James Wendland
MSc, BHK, PFLC-CSEP, RK
Strength and Conditioning Coach and Current Player (Prop)
Teams:  UBC, VRC
 

Matt Jones
Backs Coach and Ex-Player (Standoff)
Teams:  England, Leiceter Tigers, London Irish, Saracens, VRC

 

Jeremy Sabell
Director of Rugby, Coach and Ex-Player (Flanker)
Teams:  UVic, Oak Bay Castaway Wanderers, VRC

Academy players train and play together in the BC U19 league through the fall and then are seeded into senior men’s teams in the spring according to their abilities and physical attributes. Although expected to train with their designated team in the spring, Academy members will have specialized training together and will continue to enjoy all the other supports and services of the Academy. The Academy term is September 1st of each year until May 15th of the following year.

To be invited to the Academy, you must possess four basic prerequisites:

  1. a passion for rugby.
  2. a competitive spirit.
  3. the basic physical attributes of a rugby player.
  4. the desire to improve yourself to maximum potential both on and off the field.