Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff University and the University of South Wales have all appointed hub officers to maximise male and female rugby participation at all levels, improve links with local schools and clubs and provide leadership opportunities for students within coaching and refereeing.
Louis Messer (Cardiff Met), Alun-Wyn Davies (Cardiff University) and Ben Daniels (University of South Wales) have joined their respective sports development teams in time for the start of the academic year and the benefits are already being felt.
The posts are part-funded by the WRU and the trio join Llyr Thomas who was appointed over the summer as the first University hub officer at Aberystwyth University and other Universities are expected to appoint rugby officers in the near future.
In total, there are now 87 hub officers employed by academic institutions throughout Wales, significantly increasing the amount of regular rugby played by male and female students at all levels and formats.
WRU relationships manager Adrian Evans said, “Universities offer an excellent opportunity to engage and retain young adults within all formats of rugby, and having a hub officer will provide additional opportunities for students to play, but also coach, referee and manage games and teams.
“The aim is to cater for everyone who signs up for rugby in Freshers’ week and beyond, whether they want to progress and play 15-a-side rugby competitively, or enjoy social, intra-mural touch rugby. We know that a large proportion of students stay in the area after completing their studies, and it’s a key priority for us to make links for the long-term with local clubs.”
Chris Jennings, Director of Sport at Cardiff Metropolitan University added: “The partnership with the WRU has already started to benefit this year’s intake with the creation of additional opportunities to play rugby and complete coaching qualifications.”
Stuart Vanstone, Head of Sport at Cardiff University, said: “We provide a range of playing, coaching and volunteering opportunities for our male and female students and this relationship will assist us with our capacity to deliver more. We are aware that the demand to be involved in rugby initiatives outweighs our capacity currently and we are confident that being a part of the hub scheme will have the desired effect of more students playing more rugby and the broader opportunities that this brings. Already conversations have taken place with a number of community clubs from all levels of the game thus providing a route from university rugby to support the local game.”
Dr. Tudor Williams, the University of South Wales Director of Sport, said: “We are delighted to be working with the WRU to develop grass roots rugby within the South Wales region. We want to encourage students and give them opportunities to play rugby, not only within the University but look at how we can work with local clubs. Our new Head of Rugby Development, Ben Daniels, will also be working with our academic teams to secure placements and progression into careers within rugby for students on our sport courses. It is an exciting partnership to increase participation.”