Cardiff and Vale College Rugby Academy celebrates league-winning season
Cardiff and Vale College’s Rugby Academy has celebrated finishing top of the Under 18 Development League and reaching the final of the Trophy competition at an inaugural presentation evening.
The event, sponsored by Principality and Cardiff Metropolitan University, brought together current and future players with their families. They were joined by the Academy’s coaches and business sponsors for a three course dinner and awards presentation at the College’s City Centre Campus.
CAVC’s Rugby Academy works in partnership with the Cardiff Blues, and their Head Coach, Danny Wilson, gave an inspirational speech and presented all of the awards. He also had a tour of the facilities the team use, including the state-of-the-art strength and conditioning gym.
“I am incredibly impressed by the facilities and support available to the CAVC Rugby Academy and I have no doubt that it will prove to be a real conveyor belt for talent in the region,” Danny said.
The coveted title of Player of the Year was awarded to Dafydd Smith while Tom Meehan was given the award for Players’ Player of the Year. Most Promising and Most Improved awards were given to Josh Male and Eddie respectively while Ben Thomas and Jasper Dietz were recognised for their international appearances for Wales Under 18s and Netherlands Under 18s.
CAVC Rugby Academy Captain Dan Watts was recognised for his achievements in representing the Cardiff Blues Under 18s and as the first Academy player to represent Cardiff RFC. Now playing senior rugby in the Championship, Dan has handed the Captaincy over to 17-year-old Ben Thomas with Lewis Hill named as Vice Captain.
An A Level student at CAVC, Ben Thomas was unable to attend the ceremony as he was representing Cardiff Blues in the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s, helping the team beat reigning champions Newport Gwent Dragons and securing a place in the Series Finals. Selected to fly out to South Africa with the Wales squad in August, Ben will return to play his first full season for Wales Under 18s having qualified a full year younger than most.
The growing stature of CAVC’s Rugby Academy is reflected in it being awarded the A License by the WRU. This can only be granted after meeting strict criteria.
“All the elite clubs play in A License facilities,” CAVC’s Director of Rugby Martyn Fowler explained. “It ensures that the best facilities, support and development pathways are in place.
“It’s a really exciting time for the Academy – not only are we able to offer sector-leading playing and training facilities at BT Cardiff Arms Park and our Cardiff International Sport Campus, but we have developed a solid team with a dedicated Strength and Conditioning Coach and physiotherapy provision on top of coaching from myself, Dan Fish, and former Wales international and Pontypridd player Gareth Wyatt.”
The evening was hosted by CAVC’s Deputy Principal Kay Martin, who summed up the College’s approach that ensures players successfully balance their studies with their playing.
“Tonight I was delighted to celebrate not only excellence in rugby but also excellence off the field,” she said. “We are seeing Academy members predicted to get excellent A Level results, holding offers in leading universities, gaining apprenticeships in accountancy and qualifying in professional trades such as plumbing alongside playing in professionally and gaining international caps.
“Our aim is to ensure each player is supported and challenged to reach their potential both in rugby and in their studies and tonight demonstrated this is happening.”