'Future Red Roses' - RFU Confirm New Player Pathway for U18s Women's Rugby - Ruck

‘Future Red Roses’ – RFU Confirm New Player Pathway for U18s Women’s Rugby

The RFU has confirmed exciting plans to find the next generation of the Red Roses, with the launch of nine Player Development Group centres, (PDGs) across the country. The plans have freshened up the Player Pathway system for aspiring Red Roses, with the centres set to open their doors for the 2024/25 season.

A statement from the RFU laid out the development plans, as the number one ranked women’s side looks to the future of their playing group. The statement explained how the PDG’s will be the product of a centralised system, that will receive investment from the RFU, Sport England as well as the British & Irish Lions, who announced historic plans for a first ever Women’s Lions tour in 2027.

Abby Dow of England Red Roses is tackled by Florence Symonds of Canada’s Womens Rugby during the international friendly match between England Red Roses and Canada women at Sandy Park, Exeter on 23rd Sept 2023. Photo: Izzy Ninnis/PPAUK

The statement read: “A centralised system of nine girls’ Player Development Group (PDG) centres, with investment from the RFU, as well as Sport England and The British & Irish Lions’ funding, will enable the delivery of a talent development framework nationwide, replacing the existing Centres of Excellence (CoE).

“The dedicated resources will focus on boosting individuals on pitch skill development, functional athletic movement and off pitch support all through a centrally co-ordinated curriculum. The operations and delivery in each centre will include enhanced connections to the Foundation phase, previously known as girls’ ERDPP and delivered by the Constituent Bodies, providing improved transition between the programmes.

Zoe Aldcroft of England Red Roses on the break trying to evade Gabrielle Senft of Canada’s Womens Rugby during the international friendly match between England Red Roses and Canada women at Sandy Park, Exeter on 23rd Sept 2023. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

“The centres will provide training and match opportunities, which work in conjunction with an identified player’s playing and training opportunities at local clubs, schools or colleges. The environments will provide high quality coaching across key rugby and athletic development principles, as well as a broader programme that is set around the development of the person, not just the player.

“Athletes will be bought together from a variety of settings and backgrounds to develop at strategic locations across the country. Participants will be encouraged to attend their closest centres and the RFU will support in guiding players through this.

Maud Muir of England Red Roses and Lark Atkin-Davies of England Red Roses after the international friendly match between England Red Roses and Canada women at Sandy Park, Exeter on 23rd Sept 2023. Photo: Izzy Ninnis/PPAUK

“The RFU will also enhance the competitive opportunities at colleges and schools by repositioning the highest college and schools league into England Rugby and renaming it the Girls Performance College and School league. This league will improve competitive opportunities for players with the highest potential, to play one another. The colleges and schools involved in the Girls Performance College and School League will be confirmed in due course.”
Charlie Hayter, RFU Head of Women’s Performance added in the statement: “The changes we’re making to the U18s domestic girls’ pathway are to ensure we’re providing positive experiences and opportunities for talented players as they progress through their rugby journey. We want to excite young people about their development and provide quality opportunities in which to thrive.

Zoe Harrison of England Women during the TikTok Womens Six Nations match between England Women and Wales Women at Kingsholm Stadium on April 9 2022 in Gloucester, England. (Photo by Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

“The development of the women’s game over recent years means we need to evolve our programmes to provide the most appropriate learning environments and playing prospects for our female athletes.  It’s important that we have consistency across our programmes and central management, and a common curriculum, will aid this.”   
The nine PDG centres will be located in: 
1 – Northumberland, Durham, Cumbria
2 – Yorkshire
3 – Staffordshire, Lancashire, Cheshire
4 – North Midlands, Gloucestershire, Warwickshire
5 – Leicestershire, NLD, East Midlands
6 – Middlesex, Essex, Hertfordshire, Eastern Counties
7 – Kent, Sussex, Surrey
8 – Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Dorset & Wiltshire, Buckinghamshire
9 – Cornwall, Devon, Somerset

Premiership Women’s Rugby clubs will continue links with players over 18-years-old and have opportunities to interact with players in the PDG programme.