Academies Do A Great Job

We have got some really talented lads from our academy at Bath involved in the LV= Cup over the next couple of weeks.

Say what you like about the competition but it certainly gives lads like Olly Woodburn and Tom Heathcote a chance to play with and against some of the country’s best players.

The step up from academy to first team is a huge step but, for me, the move from school rugby to the academy is just as big.

Playing for a professional club’s academy gives you a whole new dimension. You might think you are a good player at school level but things get a whole lot more complicated when you join a club.

The game gets more complicated on the pitch and your dedication off the pitch has to improve dramatically.

There are moves and systems to learn on the pitch while your attention to detail in your weights sessions, the food you eat and your attitude towards sleep and lifestyle all have to improve.

You either sink or swim. There are no half measures.

When I started training with the first team during my time at the Leicester Tigers academy as a youngster, there were some intense and scary moments.

You could turn around and suddenly realise that you are facing most of the England pack.

I vividly remember going to a Wednesday morning contact session at Leicester with my house mate Adam Billing and we soon got to realise the standards expected from a first team player.

We did a session which lasted two minutes in a 10m x 10m square where one group had to maul and the other side had to disrupt it.

There was Adam and myself, retired Steve Booth, Aussie Rod Kafer and Adam Balding, now at Gloucester.

We were up against Ben Kay, Dorian West, Martin Johnson, Graham Rowntree and Richard Cockerill.

Cheers then!

When they had the ball, they mauled for two minutes and we never got near them.

When it was our turn, the maul was broken up immediately and it just turned into a series of rucks!

I remember in that same session, Adam got hammered by Neil Back for turning the ball over and Cockers whacked me for daring to do the same.

I am sure things are not quite that uncompromising at any club these days but there are still some harsh lessons to be learned in academies and they do a great job.


You can follow Bath Academy player Olly Woodbury on Twitter

There is more information about the Bath Academy on the club website including faqs.

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