Welcome to the Blues Academy:
Our Mission is to identify, recruit and develop professional players for the Bedford 1st XV of the future.
The Blues Academy is recognised as one of the best non-RFU funded Academies in the country. Players such as Sacha Harding, Will Chudley, Ali Price, Duncan Taylor, Josh Bassett, Aaron Morris and others have been developed by the Academy before moving into the first team. Many of these players have gone on to play in the Premiership and beyond.
However the standard of the rugby in the Championship has improved significantly over the last few years, and Championship rugby is becoming more and more physical. The gap between the Academy and the Championship is getting wider, making it more difficult for an Under 19 player to make the jump from Academy rugby to the Championship.
To cope with these changes, and to help better prepare players for the Championship, the Blues Academy is adapting its approach and forming an Academy Development Squad for the 2016/17 season. This will allow the Blues to focus on a smaller number of players who will train as part of the Blues first team squad. They will train with the Blues senior squad; their Strength & Conditioning (S&C) sessions will be with the senior squad; their S&C programmes, and nutritional advice, will be overseen by the Blues first team S&C coach with physio support provided by the Blues first team physios.
Initially they will play most of their rugby with a partner club in the National leagues where they will have the opportunity to develop by playing regular adult league rugby. The Blues Academy will no longer play regular fixtures as an Under 19 XV. Development Squad players will play as part of a Blues Development XV, alongside Blues first team players, in a small number of games each season.
From its formation in 2000 the Blues Academy has focused on Player Development and used a competitive fixture list to develop players. The Academy U19s played fixtures against other U19 sides such as Leicester Tigers, Northampton Saints, Saracens, the Welsh Regions (Gwent and North Wales), Moseley, Nottingham and Worcester, and older sides such as Loughborough University Freshers, Oxford and Cambridge University U21 XVs nad the RAF and RN U23 XVs. This approach is being amended for the 2016/17 season - see above.
The Blues won the National U19 Cup in five of the last six years before withdrawing from the competition after winning the Cup in May 2012.
Each season Academy players train with the Blues 1st XV squad and a number are then invited to attend pre-season summer training with the 1st XV. Those good enough are offered contracts with the Blues and over the last few years, many players have moved through the Academy on to Blues senior contracts. Some of these have gone on to play at Championship and Premiership level elsewhere; Will Chudley (Newcastle, and now Exeter), Josh Bassett (Wasps), Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors), Duncan Taylor (Saracens and Scotland) and Aaron Morris (Harlequins).