Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Fresh Focus on Youth; SCRUM DOWN

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Fresh Focus on Youth; SCRUM DOWN

Article excerpt

Byline: SIMON RUSHWORTH

ONE of the country's most ambitious sixth form colleges has welcomed the establishment of the UK's first rugby-based Centre of Sporting Excellence, writes SIMON RUSHWORTH.

Last week's news that Kingston Park, purchased by Northumbria University, will be home to the stars of tomorrow has given youth rugby across the North East a huge boost.

And North Tyneside's TyneMet College, home to the North East Sports Academy (NESA), is confident its own groundbreaking rugby programme will benefit from a revolution in the sport in the region.

"The news about the Centre of Sporting Excellence is a massive boost to everyone involved with the sport at a youth level in this area," said NESA rugby development coach Dave Massie.

"At NESA we already have agreements with both Newcastle Falcons and Northumbria University to develop rugby in the region. And I'm sure our students will benefit from the Centre of Sporting Excellence once it is established and its role is defined. It's a huge step forward for youth rugby in the North East and gives everyone a fresh focus. These are exciting times for the sport here."

Massie moved south of the border five years ago after learning his rugby trade at university in Edinburgh. In heading up the NESA rugby scheme - in its first year - he oversees 23 teenage students at TyneMet with the elite group guaranteed 8-10 hours of sports-specific coaching every week.

And Massie is aiming to recruit a further 20 students a year in a bid to offer talented rugby players a realistic route into senior rugby. "One of my primary roles is identifying emerging talent," he added. "I'm head coach of Northumberland Under 15s and a county School Of Rugby coach.

"That's an RFU initiative designed to fill the void for those players who have reached elite level but are not necessarily ready for the Falcons' Academy. …

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