Loughborough University provided the setting for the annual RPA Academy Induction Day and it proved to be a great success for the latest crop of young talent entering the Aviva Premiership.
The aim of The RPA Academy Induction Day is to educate and offer guidance to the new academy players about their future careers. They are given information on both the opportunities available to them and the potential risks associated with professional sport, while also being reminded of the importance of developing as individuals and preparing for life after rugby.
The day got off to an inspiring start when England Head Coach, Stuart Lancaster, addressed the players, explaining what they would need to do to make the transition from academy player to a member of the England squad.
Lancaster said: “In the room opposite is the entire England senior and Saxons squads, the top 64 players in the country. Twelve months ago Owen Farrell and Jonathan Joseph had just returned from the U20 World Championship and now look where they are. That could easily be one, two or three of you in a year’s time.”
Lancaster also talked about his own progression through the sport, demonstrating what is achievable if you are willing to put the work in: “Ten years ago I was a PE teacher in North Yorkshire and if you’d told me a decade later I would be England Head Coach I’d have laughed and I would never have believed you. But something I’ve always prided myself on is working hard and never giving up.”
Lancaster also offered the players his top ten tips on what they would need to do to reach the highest level and explained what is expected of them, not only as professional sportsmen, but also as human beings.
Tom Price of Leicester Tigers and England U20s said: “I found the day to be a great help. It gave us an insight in to what The RPA does and we’ve also learnt that there’s a lot to think about when you’re starting out as a professional rugby player.
“Hearing Stuart Lancaster speak was certainly inspiring and it gives you the belief that you can make the step up to the next level and it could be you in the England squad in the next couple of years. It was the same with Ben Youngs and Tom Wood, they are not that much older than us and it shows what can be achieved through a lot of hard work.”
When asked what he had learnt from the day, Price was quick to answer: “Without a doubt the use of social media! I had no idea how easy it was for people to see your profile on Twitter and Facebook and just how dangerous they can be. It’s not really something you think about, but I’ll definitely be making mine a lot more secure.”
Throughout the day there was a strong message of personal responsibility and the players attended a number of seminar sessions covering subjects including the use of social media, anti-doping, insurance matters and agents. RPA Business Partners, Aviva and HSBC, spoke to players about the importance of social and financial responsibility and also the services they offer RPA members.
Following the seminar programme the players took part in a Q&A session with England players Ben Youngs and Tom Wood, both of whom offered invaluable advice to the young players just starting out in their careers. Leicester Tigers’ scrum-half Youngs said: “When you’re in the academy there is a huge amount of opportunity available to you, especially in terms of carrying on your education and I think it’s important you take that chance and have something to fall back on.
“Secondly you’ll have a lot of spare time and I think if you want to be successful you have to put that time to good use. There will be times when you’ll have to let your mates down and parties you’ll have to miss, but if you are willing to give up all that you will get the rewards in the long-term and it will definitely be worth it.”
As one final incentive for the day, the players were given the chance to watch an England training session and witness Stuart Lancaster and his coaches putting the forwards through their paces.
For further information on The RPA Academy Induction day please contact Caroline Guthrie on 020 8831 7930 or CGuthrie@theRPA.co.uk