Big news! How England Rugby are developing the next generation
by Michaela Weller
31 October 2017
Today’s press release from England Rugby. We’re so proud to be part of this:
England Rugby are helping develop the future stars of the game with a series of unique activities.
Over the past year England Rugby, in partnership with Mitsubishi Motors, have exposed selected players from their age-grade sides to a number of off-the-pitch experiences to take them out of their comfort zone and develop their self-awareness, communication and leadership skills.
Predominately focused around three annual activities, constructed in support from Leading Edge, recognised learning provider, players have been challenged to adapt to work with different personalities and learn how to get the best out of each other.
In January the players spent a number days with emergency search and rescue organisation Serve On and most recently worked at Thomas Becket School in Northampton on a number of projects designed to improve their skills as well as inspire the pupils.
Dean Ryan, head of international player development at the RFU, said: “Once you are on the treadmill into the Premiership it is pretty difficult to stop and reflect so hopefully these activities will come at the right time to help support the players to be aware of what characteristics will be required of them to be successful at the highest level.
“We wanted the activities to be unique and experience-led.”
“We wanted the activities to be unique and experience-led and compress those experiences we have in life. We don’t want to define the end point, we want to create environments where people could develop and learn as well express themselves within there at their own pace.”
Saracens forward Ben Earl, who was also a member of England’s World Rugby U20 Championship squad in the summer, says the three activities have had a meaningful impact on his development.
“The first activity with Serve On was about learning about yourself,” said Earl. “We were set some physically demanding challenges such as carrying people through fragile buildings and getting people out of tunnels as well as dealing with an earthquake-hit environment
“The second one which placed us in a ‘Big Brother’ style house helped develop learning about others and the third at Thomas Becket School was about putting it all together in a real environment.”
“You need to be able to co-operate, communicate and work under pressure.”
Earl, who also helped England U20s to Six Nations glory earlier in the year, added: “It’s all about developing as an individual and building those off-pitch relationships so that you work hard for each other on it.
“You can only do that by understanding how others operate. When you are in those tough moments on the pitch, whether you are a try down or a man down, you need to be able to co-operate, communicate and work under pressure.”
Lance Bradley, Managing Director of Mitsubishi Motors in the UK, said: “We are proud to support England Rugby in developing the next generation of elite players. Our staff has been directly involved with these camps, working alongside the players to help them learn and develop, and it is fascinating to be a part of this innovative and pioneering project.”
The activities have been designed by Leading Edge. Owner Director Patrick Marr says “Creating and delivering valuable life learning experiences condensed into a few days, that raise self-awareness and gives the guys new skills has been an exciting challenge for us this year.
“We’re proud to have been able to bring our experience from global business and leadership development and have been impressed by the commitment of the players and support staff to really making a change.”
Back to school
The most-recent activity saw the players spend two days at Thomas Becket School where they were tasked with refurbishing the sixth-form to create an area that would inspire the pupils as well as design and create a mural for the front of the building. Finally they had to produce a promotional video for the school which highlighted their core values: faith, justice, compassion, truth and respect.
Head teacher Ciran Stapleton believes the players would have learned a huge amount from their time at the secondary school.
“I hope the players have experienced the virtues and values of the school,” said Stapleton.
“Most importantly for their own development I hope they got the chance to be taken out of their comfort zone and were given the opportunity to be leaders in a different context, as well as provide a setting for them to be able to grow as individuals and take all the lessons they have learned and bring it back into sport.”
Connect with the players
The important activities will continue into 2018 and Ryan believes the players will benefit from the experiences both on and off the pitch.
“We wanted to make sure through the different elements we were able to experience and capture that we could connect with the players outside of rugby to offer support and a plan of how to develop,” said Ryan.
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