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Cambridge Vipers Rugby Academy get extra bite after link up with Impington International College

The Cambridge Vipers Academy in action. Picture: Chris Fell (47059460)
The Cambridge Vipers Academy in action. Picture: Chris Fell (47059460)

Ben Penfold is eager to develop a rugby outlet for the whole of the region with the growth of the Cambridge Vipers Rugby Academy.

It is through the initiative for 16 to 19-year-olds that they will be launching into a new venture with Impington International College, for the academic year in September 2021.

The rugby scholarship will be a full-time rugby educational programme in partnership between Impington and Cambridge Rugby Club.

It will give boys and girls the chance to do between six and eight hours a week of coaching, video analysis, strength and conditioning, and access to physiotherapy and massage sessions, alongside the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, Careers Programme or Level 3 Extended Diploma.

“We’re trying to create a rugby outlet for the whole of East Anglia,” said Penfold, who is head coach of the Vipers.

“We’ve got players from Wisbech, Bedford, March, Downham Market and more local as well.

“We hope to get it as accessible to as many people locally, but also further afield if they want to improve their rugby but also stay in full-time education.

“We’re trying to offer something that can help youngsters continue their education in a full-time programme with rugby alongside it, and go off onto professional rugby, semi-professional rugby, university or an apprenticeship.

“We’re hoping that it will offer an outlet in East Anglia that no-one has really managed to do before.”

The academy is now in its second year, and in their first season they averaged scoring 49 points a game, only losing once in a dozen matches.

But it is more about development, both on and off the pitch, than results.

“The biggest thing for me isn’t necessarily results – obviously they are helpful but it’s just seeing the students develop as players and as people,” said Penfold.

“We want to improve their rugby, but we also want to help them become more rounded off the pitch as well.”

There is also no necessity for potential students to play for Cambridge Rugby Club, and in many regards the opposite is the case.

“We want players from far afield going back to their clubs showing how they’re progressing because that can potentially help their friends or younger age groups come to the college,” said Penfold.

“They don’t have to play for the club, and it’s good for their development if they don’t so they are getting different coaches’ voices.

“The rugby club is just a facility in providing the coaching from myself and others – going back to their clubs is only going to help them.”

Ben Penfold in action for Cambridge. Picture: Chris Fell (42872099)
Ben Penfold in action for Cambridge. Picture: Chris Fell (42872099)

The new venture for the Cambridge Vipers Rugby Academy through Impington Village College is an exciting opportunity to develop sporting and academic skills, believes Penfold.

“Impington has got fantastic facilities, like the sports centre, the sports hall,” he said.

“Students will get full access to the gym, and as of next year we will get a strength and conditioning coach on board as well as physiotherapy and massage.”

He added: “We are still recruiting for new students. Any aspiring players that want to improve their rugby knowledge whilst continuing their studies to get to university or start their careers, then please get in touch.

“We have also launched a new girls’ programme; we believe there is an outlet for girls to do exactly the same and have the same opportunities as the boys’ programme. We are looking forward to having them involved in the programme next year too.”

For more information about the academy and scholarship, email RDO@crufc.co.uk, or pmugan@ivc.tmet.org.uk.

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