As a key component of the Welsh Rugby Union’s strategic reform of the player pathway to create ‘more and better players’ for the professional and community game in Wales, the prestigious Dewar Shield has now been formally integrated into the regional pathway, meaning it will now be contested at U16 (Year 11) level.
There will be a 22-month programme of development for emerging players between 14 and 16 years old (U15 and U16).
As part of the wider ongoing player pathway reform, the newly introduced Emerging Player Programme (EPP) will be led by the regions, supported by the WRU, and delivered locally across 24 schools districts across Wales.
Sitting as part of the new Talent Discovery phase of the player pathway, the principle of the EPP programme is to enhance individual player development in a locally based group setting. This will allow players a longer period of time to explore their potential in high quality environments with a strong regional connection.
To facilitate the 22-month developmental window, the first year (U15) will feature festival based competitions alongside regular training, allowing players to continue playing for clubs and schools alongside the programme. Players will then progress to the Dewar Shield competition at U16 (Year 11) as the priority competition for identified players at this age and stage. The Dewar Shield will now run between September and Christmas.
The Dewar Shield was engages approximately 750-800 players which equates to around 13% of the active U15 players registered in Wales with selection decisions typically made in a short period of time when young male players are changing the most.
A new target set is to engage double that number, with around 1500 players in the programme over an extended time frame, allowing more players more time and space to explore their potential with a clear pathway to regional academies and beyond.
The 14-16 age group is where the community game first meets the performance pathway and we as a Union are confident that the supported reforms better connects our community and professional games, and will ultimately create more and better players for our clubs, regions and country.
The 26 Intermediate Group Districts will continue to work in partnership with the WRU and Regions in ensuring that the competition continues to provide a programme of the highest quality to support the development of our young players.
Click HERE to see the previous winners for the Dewar Shield
Click HERE to see the shield making an appearance on the BBC Repair Shop
Click HERE for the season 2023/24 stage 1 regional fixtures
Click HERE for the quarter final draw Cup 2023/24
Click HERE for the quarter final draw Plate 2023/24
Click HERE for the quarter final draw Bowl 2023/24
Click HERE for the Semi Finals draw 2023/24
Click HERE for the Finals information 2023/24
Click HERE for the 5th to 8th play off fixtures
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