Up to a fifth of the most promising teenagers may be overlooked or ignored while the pressure of being an academy player could be negatively impacting on exam results
Leading age-group, academy and school rugby coaches say blinkered management, flawed decision-making and petty jealousies have negatively affected the development of England’s next generation of young players. Despite boasting the world’s largest pool of registered youngsters, the Rugby Football Union stands accused of failing to maximise its resources and of allowing hundreds of potential top‑level athletes to drift out of the sport.
One experienced Premiership academy manager has said he believes up to 20% of the country’s most talented teenage players each year are being overlooked or blithely ignored and that excessive pressure on many academy youngsters is adversely affecting their exam results. There has also been an instance of disillusioned parents threatening legal action to force a Premiership club to agree to their rejected teenage son playing elsewhere and of agents targeting promising schoolboys as young as 14.