GRASSROOTS rugby in the Rhondda has scored a massive boost with a new, long-term partnership with Cardiff Metropolitan University.
Cardiff Met announced this week that it is entering into a four-year partnership with Rhondda Schools Rugby, worth a substantial amount of money, as part of the University's commitment to nurturing talent within the community.
The Rhondda Schools Rugby (RSR) initiative was set up to engender a love of rugby in Rhondda schools, for girls and boys alike, through the provision of a high quality coaching structure.
Any child in a Rhondda school showing an interest in rugby has the opportunity to play the game under the watchful eye of RSR development officers and where ability allows they are given the further opportunity to play in their year group team representing Rhondda and competing against other schools across the whole of South Wales for the Dewar Shield.
The new partnership with Cardiff Met will help RSR continue to provide high quality rugby coaching for school children in the area.
Caryn Blunt, PR & Events Manager from Cardiff Met said: "Rhondda Schools Rugby is an important initiative which does a great job of inclusively raising aspiration in valley communities, something which is an important part of our own remit in widening access to Higher Education. Sport and the opportunities it can bring to young people has been one of the founding principles of the University, but the partnership will have a far reaching effect for all school pupils in Rhondda schools.
"Through our partnership with RSR we can help introduce primary and secondary school pupils to the concept of university education, and to work with secondary school heads in the Rhondda to provide a flexible progression route to University, as well as developing links and support mechanisms that will enable Sixth Formers and college students from the Rhondda to access HE at Cardiff Met."
Former Wales international rugby player Neil Boobyer, who is a Senior Development Coach with Rhondda Schools Rugby, said: "We are absolutely delighted to be associated with such an institution with such a distinguished reputation for elite rugby as Cardiff Met. Our project provides an opportunity through the medium of rugby union for youngsters to develop and extend their social skills and networks.
"Our partnership with Cardiff Met enhances this and compliments our holistic approach. The enthusiasm we have seen from Cardiff Met has been so refreshing and for the first time we can introduce academic options to primary and comprehensive school pupils in Rhondda.
"We look forward to working together - this is a massive step forward for us, it will ensure that we continue nurturing talent."