The objective of the Academy is to provide a an individual development programme that involves specialist coaching, conditioning and rugby education that allows a player to reach their potential as both an athlete and a person. The ultimate goal for each players become professional players for the Dragons.
The conversion rate from Academy into senior rugby is relatively low. There are only 4 professional teams in Wales all operating within restricted budgets. Therefore, all players and parents must be aware from the outset that there is a high percentage chance that they will not make the grade. A player is encouraged throughout his time in the Academy to follow an alternative career path to ensure that there is a ‘Plan B’ career alternative in place. From a rugby perspective, most players will go on to semi-pro or the Championship in England if they do not turn professional with the Dragons.
Are the Academy players contracted?
Some of the older Academy players are signed to Development Contracts that vary in value. Younger Academy players tend not to be contracted until they are on the senior succession plan.
How can I qualify for selection to the Dragons Academy?
Players under 18s years old have the opportunity to play for one of our Dragons Age Grade team or study at one of our junior Academy sites. Players older than 18 can be nominated by club coaches and then scouted by the Academy team. Our identification is based on the following criteria:
- Size: Physical size based on position
- Speed: Straight line, in game speed for position
- Skill: Sound technical ability and/or above average game awareness
Players must demonstrate exceptional qualities in at least two of the three above criteria to warrant selection PLUS be able to demonstrate that correct ATTITUDE. This involves the player changing their lifestyle in order to maximise their ability to train and play at the highest level.
What about education?
It is vital that each player pursues an alternative form of career development, be it vocational or traditional education. The Academy will assist you in managing your rugby commitments alongside an education programme to ensure that you plan for life after rugby. A full-time rugby player engages in approximately 20 hours of contact time a week, leaving ample time for each individual to pursue a goal outside of the rugby environment.
Who will I play for?
Each player will have an individual playing programme that allows them to be exposed to the highest competitive level. Each player is registered to the Academy and game time is managed throughout the season. A senior Academy player can expect to be involved in one of our Welsh Premiership sides and should aim to be involved in an international age grade programme.
Throughout their time with the Academy, players can be exposed to the following different environments (although not all at the same time):
Dragons Development matches
Welsh Premiership Rugby (Bedwas, Cross Keys, Ebbw Vale, Newport)
Welsh Championship Rugby (Bargoed, Newbridge, Pontypool)
Dragons Age Grade matches
Dragons Junior Academy in National Colleges league (Cross Keys College, Newport High School)
International Age Grade matches (Wales U16s, U18s, U20s)
If I am in the Academy, does it mean i will definitely become a professional player?
No. There are no guarantees. It is important to understand that your progress into a professional contract can be limited by your application and drive as well as a potential stagnation in development.