HOW DO I GET INTO THE ACADEMY?
Our full-time academy staff watch a lot of school, club, county and representative games. We also have a network of teachers and coaches around the region and in various sectors of the game keeping a look out for potential talent for us. Outside of this, anyone can nominate a player to us if they feel they are capable of becoming an elite performer by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. All nominated players will be added to a regional database and once they achieve a certain number of independent nominations they will be viewed for a potential invite into the Academy. Our message to all aspiring players is to concentrate on playing well for your team and enjoying your rugby because if you are doing this you give yourself the best chance of being identified by the Academy.
WHAT QUALITIES DO WE LOOK FOR WHEN SELECTING PLAYERS?
There is no set criteria to define what a player must be capable of to be selected for the Academy because everyone is different. We use the core values of the club to assess players and focus on Work rate and Discipline in addition to Game Sense, Attitude, Skill Set and Physical Potential. If a player excels in any of these four areas we will consider them for potential inclusion in the Developing Player Programme (DPP).
WILL I STILL GO TO SCHOOL / COLLEGE?
We advise all players to either continue with their education or develop vocational interests alongside their rugby because for those fortunate enough to make a career out of playing rugby, it is not a life-long job. We have official links with several Partner Schools (Mill Hill, Haileybury, Berkhamsted, Sevenoaks, Sutton Valence, New Hall, Felsted, Eltham and Harrow). In addition to this, we have a partnership with Oaklands College where we deliver our AASE programme. Players attend the school for their post-GCSE education and partake in a specialist rugby development programme alongside their academic courses. We also have strong links with many universities and have various links in the workplace to provide work experience across a wide range of industries.
CAN I STILL PLAY FOR MY SCHOOL / COLLEGE?
Yes you can, please see the academy pathway diagram.
WHO WILL I PLAY FOR?
We have an A Team (Storm) that competes against other Premiership clubs in the Aviva A League. This team consists of predominantly 1st XV and Senior Academy players. We also have an U18 Team that plays in an U18 Academy League against other Premiership clubs as well as an U16 and U15 teams that participate in various Academy festivals against other Premiership clubs. None of these teams have a full fixture list so all Academy players will have an external playing programme for other teams, whether it be their club, school, college, university or county. All Academy players have a bespoke playing programme tailored to their individual development needs.
ARE ALL PLAYERS IN THE ACADEMY CONTRACTED?
No. All players working within the Academy are registered with us but only a handful of players will ever gain a professional contract once they reach 18 years of age. Each player is viewed in isolation and their potential to play at the highest levels will dictate whether, or not a player is offered a part-time or full-time contract with the club.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T MAKE IT INTO THE SARACENS 1ST TEAM?
If a player is released from the Academy, they will be directed towards an appropriate playing, training and / or education programme for them. Not everyone will become a professional player so the exit routes we have are vital in strengthening relationships with the community game. Some players may even be nominated for talent transfer programmes.
AS A PARENT OF A PLAYER, WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?
Parents undoubtedly have the biggest influence on any young player's life and the key is to support but not over manage the sporting development of their children. In order to maximise their potential, a player must take ownership for their own learning by discovering their own motivation for training and doing it because they enjoy it, and not because they feel pressurised into doing it. Parents can play a vital role by taking an interest in the wellbeing of their son, initially managing logistics and finance, providing emotional support and helping them to develop independence. Many parents find it difficult to let go but reducing parental involvement has to happen if the player is to develop the necessary skills themselves. Parents managing their child’s development do so at the risk of hampering the players’ long-term potential.
WHO DO I CONTACT?
Please see our staff and contact list, for you to contact the relevant people.