AT a time when rugby purists are concerned about the lack of creativity in the sport, including individuals not having the ability to change the direction of game, it is encouraging to note that coaching organisations like Aberdeen-based Apex Rugby Academy are committed to helping young players to reach another level.
A recent rugby camp run by Apex at Deeside Rugby Club, Banchory, attracted 150 youngsters aged between eight and 15 from all over Scotland, winning the approval of the participants who rated the five day camp as a massive success.
Founder and director Craig McLeod was delighted with the encouraging response of the youngsters. “While we at Apex are keen that fun and engagement are high on our agenda in each course, we are equally keen to take the youngsters to a higher level in the game, benefiting from collective coaching, linked to one-to-one sessions on our well staffed courses,” he said.
“The responses to both approaches has been very good. The progress of some participants over the five days is quite remarkable. We must be doing something right!”
The comprehensive nature of the course is reflected in the wide ranging curriculum, including educational workshops, individual coaching, team building, strength and conditioning awareness, and player development.
“Player development is a key element,” added McLeod, a 25-year old PE trained teacher who intends to take his Apex product into a wider market in Scotland. “We need players to be thinking about where the game is going, especially at the end of a match where you are losing and need to change the outcome.
“These sessions are player-led, which is a big departure from what often goes on in the club game. Players become more creative when given their heads.”
“Each course ends with a professional player in attendance, helping assess the progress players have made during the course.”
The pro player at the Banchory was Ruaridh Jackson, a product of the North East who attended Robert Gordon’s College before going on to play for Aberdeen Grammar FP’s, then Glasgow Warriors, winning 33 caps for Scotland in the process. Among the best remembered of his career highlights was his dramatic last minute penalty kick which helped beat Samoa 19-16 at Pittodrie in front of his ‘ain folk’ in November 2010.
Jackson declared himself impressed by the impact the camp had made on the youngsters. “Any course which introduces the mental side of the game is to be lauded,” he observed.
“Apex are doing a good job. I am happy to be associated with them. Being back in the area reminds me of how much help I got from two Aberdeen Grammar players in particular in my early years. Keith Oddie, an Orcadian who was an outstanding No10 at Rubislaw, while Rod Seib, an Australian who was another quality act in the Grammar back division in the early part of the century.”
Following hard on their Banchory success, McLeod and his dedicated team of coaches will be back in action at the same venue later this month, this time running a three day camp.
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