A PENARTH rugby player has launched a joint initiative that aims to allow rugby stars of the future to gain vital qualifications while they train.
Penarth-born Joel Ringer, the son of former Wales star Paul Ringer, is one of the first players to juggle playing for the Cardiff Blues while studying at Cardiff and Vale College.
Cardiff and Vale College has teamed up with the Cardiff Blue to launch the Blues Rugby Academy, where 16 to 18-year-olds can study A Levels or vocational qualifications while juggling their training schedules.
The Academy, which will train and play home games at BT Cardiff Arms Park, is headed by renowned coach Martyn Fowler, former Cardiff RFC Director of Rugby and Cardiff University Head of Rugby.
CAVC Deputy Principal Kay Martin said: “We are delighted to work in partnership with Cardiff Blues. The Academy provides a fantastic opportunity for potential rugby players to develop their academic and sporting excellence hand in hand.
“Cardiff Blues have been incredibly supportive in enabling the Academy to train and play home games at BT Cardiff Arms Park – which will be inspirational for all involved.”
CAVC’s rugby team will be captained by Joel Ringer, son of former Welsh International star Paul Ringer. Both Joel – who plays tight head prop - and Paul were won over by the holistic approach to learning and development that CAVC’s Rugby Academy offers.
Joel Ringer said a world-class rugby academy in Cardiff was long overdue and he was very excited to be part of it.
“It’s really well centred here and the facilities are excellent,” Joel said. “Martyn’s expertise is truly amazing as well. It’s an honour to be able to play and practise at the Cardiff Arms Park, which to my mind is the best ground in the world – there is so much history here.
“We’ve got a really good squad coming together. These boys are all of a really good standard: they’ve represented Cardiff Blues at Under 16 level and they will go on the represent them at Over 16 as well. I’m doing an ICT course at the College and a number of the boys are doing four A Levels. It’s a good, broad balance between learning, strength, condition and rugby skills.”
CAVC Director of Rugby Martyn Fowler said: “We are very pleased first and foremost that Joel has made the decision to attend Cardiff and Vale College. When meeting with Joel and his father both were very happy with the broader holistic approach to learning with that the college offered. They were particularly impressed with the course first mentality that is adopted and supplemented by the provision of a sector leading high performance rugby programme.
“Joel is very mindful that less than 5 per cent of any College, School programme or indeed Rugby Academy playing base will make it into the fully professional ranks. With young men getting bigger and stronger all players are only one major injury away from forced retirement. Joel understands the requirement for an academic grounding to underpin his burgeoning rugby career.
“The decision to offer Joel the captaincy at Cardiff and Vale College was an easy one to make. He has been fulfilling the role without holding the title of captain to date leading by example at Dragon Cross fit strength and conditioning sessions and at the BT Cardiff Arms Park where he is constantly ensuring that high standards are met during the skills deliveries.
“Frank discussions with Joel have led to the implementation of a set of on and off the rugby field goals. The goals are clear and transparent which we have no doubt, given the extra work Joel is getting through in his own time, he will be able to implement. Joel is maturing into a very impressive physical specimen and a well-rounded young man.
“We are hoping to see the name Ringer on a Cardiff RFC team list towards the end of this coming season in the first instance as a replacement and subsequently developing into a fully professional tight head prop over the next three seasons.
“If hard work and determination is a judge of character, Joel has everything going for him, he most certainly has the rugby pedigree.”