Coleg Cambria and the WRU are converting students into elite rugby players in a bid to retain Welsh talent.
The college launched a three-year strategy with the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) in the autumn and is already reaping the rewards.
Their aim is to position north east Wales as a leading centre of excellence for education, skills and rugby through a partnership and collaboration committed to changing lives for the better, using learning and physical activity as part of the Active Cambria programme.
The education provider – which has sites in Wrexham, Deeside, Llysfasi and Northop – says the two organisations are focused on improving performance in the classroom, the community and on the pitch.
Paula Wood, Assistant Principal and Director of Curriculum, said: “We have been developing our rugby offering to ensure future elite players are educated and playing at a high standard, to keep them here in Wales.
“We want to further strengthen rugby in this region and our partnership with the WRU gives us a clear focus that will see a continual improvement over the next few years.”
Sion Jones, General Manager of the WRU North Wales Development Region, said they have made a big impact in a short space of time.
“The WRU, RGC and North Wales Development Region are delighted to be working in partnership with Coleg Cambria,” he said.
“The north east Wales territory has been identified as a key development area for the Region, and to ensure we made a positive and sustainable impact in both rugby performance and participation we required a driven and ambitious partner that shared our vision.
“Working together, we are extremely confident we can position north east Wales as a leading centre of excellence for education, skills and rugby through a partnership committed to changing lives for the better.”
The college has already made huge strides in just six months, finishing top of the AoC North West Men’s B League and successfully recruiting students to a new women’s team.
Currently training on a weekly basis, they will be competing from September onwards.
Paula revealed the college also plan to enter a men’s side into the Wales Under 18s rugby union league in 2019.
“We are aligning our sports curriculum with elite performance to marry the education and physical sides, not just from a competitive perspective but also health and wellbeing, which are the drivers behind Active Cambria,” said Paula.
“We have already achieved our aims for this year and have gone back to the drawing board, re-evaluated and been even more ambitious with our targets for the next two years.
“We are only just laying the foundations but already we have winning squad, players who are being selected for club sides in North Wales and a clear vision for elite players to have a real future in the sport.
“That can only be good for rugby in Wales, and means we retain the very best sporting talent so we can build for the future.”
Active Cambria – Coleg Cambria’s Strategy for Sport and Physical Activity 2015-20 – has been a huge success since its unveiling three years ago, uniting staff, students and local organisations.
Developed in line with nationwide bodies including Sport Wales and ColegauCymru, the initiative has helped to encourage a positive and healthy working environment at their campuses while serving as best practice for some of the country’s top organisations using three distinct categories – Get Active, Elite Sport and Future Sport.
For more information, visit the Coleg Cambria website or follow @colegcambria on social media.