NEWPORT have pledged to give youth its chance after forming a partnership with the new Dragons junior academy based in Bettws.
The Black and Ambers have joined forced with Newport High School, who have set up a junior academy based on the successful model at Coleg Gwent’s Cross Keys campus.
The group of 16 to 18-year-olds will combine their rugby work with academy boss Dai Flanagan, the former Blues and Ospreys fly-half who has returned to Pontypridd for the coming Premiership campaign, with their efforts in the classroom.
Flanagan will be helped by two part-time coaches that are being funded by the Friends of Newport Rugby trust.
Black and Ambers openside Rhys Jenkins will be skills coach while Gareth Smith will be responsible for conditioning.
Newport intend to occasionally sprinkle its matchday squad with young prospects to give them experience of semi-professional rugby.
“The club recognises and supports the way that the Premiership is heading towards a younger age profile with the aim to develop as many players as possible,” said head coach Sven Cronk.
“By synchronising the players junior academy training programme with the fixture list we look forward to exposing some of these young players to both Premiership and British and Irish fixtures this season.”
It will take some time for the Bettws base to catch up with Cross Keys, who won the Welsh College League last season after beating Coleg Sir Gar.
But the Dragons are hopeful that the efforts of Flanagan, Jenkins and Smith will help the Black and Ambers and therefore the region.
Dragons performance programme manager James Chapron said: “We are committed to improving our Junior Academy programme year-on-year and for the service to replicate the staffing levels and programme delivery of the top tier Dragons Senior Academy.
“While Ryan Harris and Byron Hayward will continue their excellent work with the Elite Academy players on a daily basis based at Rodney Parade, these new appointments will strengthen the structure and underpin that tier.”