Pontypool RFC is pleased to announce a new strategic partnership with Coleg Gwent and Torfaen Leisure Trust that will provide Torfaen students with the opportunity to experience professional rugby development alongside full-time study as part of an innovative new programme.
The rugby programme, based at Coleg Gwent’s new Torfaen Learning Zone Campus in Cwmbran, is aimed at learners studying at the college between 16 and 18-years-old and offers a holistic development programme with top-class facilities in both education and sport.
The new £24m Torfaen Learning Zone Campus at one of Wales’ top-performing colleges is part of the Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools and Colleges programme and boasts state-of-the-art facilities that will provide learners with fantastic opportunities and ensure they get the very best from their courses.
Learners will have the use of the high-quality facilities at Cwmbran Stadium including a 4G pitch, strength and conditioning gym, running track and swimming pool among others.
Pontypool RFC’s Pontypool Park will be used as the venue for home games and players will also benefit from coaching and support from Level 3 and 4 coaches and players who all have vast experience in a professional rugby environment.
Speaking about the collaboration Pontypool RFC Chief Executive Officer Ben Jeffreys said: “Five years ago, we set out a new strategy to see Pontypool RFC become the focal point of the rugby community in Torfaen. Initially, we strengthened relationships with our mini and junior teams in the area, such as Pontypool United RFC and Talywain RFC, and this has proven to be crucial to our success.
“Leighton [Jones] has since taken the lead in heading up the Pontypool Schools Under-15s team and this has been instrumental in giving teenagers within Torfaen the opportunity to develop their rugby skills as part of a well-run programme.
“By aligning with Coleg Gwent and Torfaen Leisure Trust, this new partnership will offer facilities, teaching and rugby coaching of the highest quality that will equip students with the skills, education and professional development required to attain successful career opportunities at the conclusion of their studies.”
Leighton Jones, will who help to lead the programme, is excited about the impact this new partnership with have on the wider community.
“This is a massive opportunity for the local kids coming through the mini and juniors to get an education all-in-one,” he said.
“The provision they will get linking in with the club and the lectures coming from a big rugby background will give them the opportunities, which most of the clubs in Wales wouldn’t be able to give.
“When I came back to Pontypool, a big driver of mine was to get success on the field but get success off the field too.
“With the amount of effort as a club that we’ve put into local rugby, local mini and junior rugby and now linking in with the college and education, I think this club is doing amazing work in the local community.”
Gareth Betts, programme leader of the Foundation Diploma Sports Coaching & Development at Coleg Gwent’s Torfaen Learning Zone, believes the new alliance will give all students the best of both worlds.
Gareth said: “In addition to their studies, the learners will have sessions on strength and conditioning and skills and analysis to develop them in preparation for games in the East Wales Premier League.
“It gives the learners a real modern look at what a professional environment would be like.
“From an employer’s point of view, they are not all going to be professional rugby players, so if we can educate them on the right career pathway, from a course viewpoint, it would really mould what is already a good course in helping each other.”
In addition to utilising Torfaen Leisure Trust’s facilities, the organisation will provide employment opportunities for learners to “earn while they learn”.
Angharad Collins Chief Executive Officer of Torfaen Leisure Trust said: “This is an unprecedented partnership and has taken significant work to reach this point.
“We are passionate about providing young adults in Torfaen the right environment to thrive in sport and the opportunity to work alongside Pontypool RFC and Torfaen Learning Zone will ensure that every young adult in Torfaen has the best opportunities on their doorstep.
“We are pleased to be able to offer employment opportunities for learners also.”