The Easter break was a busy one for the Academy and Regional Age Grade but saw the end of the 2018/19 season.
The holiday started with an Under 16s training fixture against Connacht Under 17s. This presented a new kind of challenge for the group, because even though Connacht were only a year older, they were certainly the biggest side our Under 16s had come up against to date. With the exception of the first 10 minutes, in which RGC showed their nerves and conceded a couple of early scores, they soon stepped off and arguably put in their best performance of the season, fronting up physically and showing their skills, to finish the game down 4 scores to 5.
Over the Easter weekend, the Under 16s welcomed Scotland Under 16s in the annual International Festival, playing Scotland Green on Good Friday, and Scotland Red on Bank Holiday Monday. A strong performance against Scotland Green saw the boys cruise to a 40-point win. However, off the back of a strong result, it was clear that a sense of complacency set in, as the team suffered a heavy defeat to a more focused Scotland Red.
The following day, both age grade squads returned to Parc Eirias to debrief their respective seasons and recognise those within each group who had developed and performed so well over the course the year, with awards going to the following players:
Most improved player of the year – Aaron Williams
Team player of the year – Dafydd Thirsk
Coaches’ player of the year - Dafydd Williams
Players’ player of the year - Pedr Jones
Most improved forward of the year - Efan Mutembo
Most improved back of the year - Peter Pattenden
Team player of the year - Carwyn Jones
Coaches’ player of the year - Christian Hone
Players’ player of the year - Siencyn Metcalfe
The groups then enjoyed an afternoon together, coasteering with Anglesey Adventure.
The final activities of the week saw RGC trial a combination of current pathway players, nominations from North Wales clubs, and Welsh Exiles, in readiness for next year’s Under 16 and 18’s squads. Each trial day consisted of a morning's physical testing in collaboration with Bangor University, who are currently working with RGC on several research projects. The afternoon then saw the players rotate through a number of skills focused on small-sided games, and finish with a series of short 12-a-side matches. Obviously, selection processes can result in good news for some, and not so good news for others, however we have made a big effort to ensure that non-selected players understand the rationale behind the decisions, and are given direction in how they can develop their game, in the hope that they will progress over the course of the year and be nominated by their clubs to trial again in the future.
Finally, I would just like to take this opportunity to thank all those staff, most of whom are volunteers, for their commitment over the course of this season. The time and effort they dedicate to RGC and to developing the players within our pathway is exceptional.