Chichester College has launched its new rugby academy, which is supported by the Rugby Football Union.
The college has been unveiled as one of 21 RFU Focus Colleges, part of programme which aims to support player development and build new routes into the sport.
The academy will provide structured, high-quality coaching to rugby players studying across a variety of courses at Chichester College.
They will benefit from individual technical development as well as physical development with the use of the facilities at the college sports centre.
The college academy is looking to build links with local clubs to provide pathways into the sport and aid player development.
Steve Woolcombe, Chichester College lecturer and new director of rugby, said: “This is a fantastic project and we are looking forward to working closely with the RFU to encourage more of our students to take up rugby.
“We’re already seeing the impact, with a great turnout at our first training sessions and attracting some brilliant support through shirt sponsorship.
“And, most importantly, it will help to provide opportunities for our players to develop their involvement in the sport and, hopefully, help them to pursue careers in the sport.”
Over the past three years, the RFU has been delivering a range of targeted rugby programmes at colleges across the England and the launch of Focus College sees the RFU working with FE providers to help push the development of rugby union.
The colleges will work with the RFU to increase their player base and develop rugby in three main areas – strength (developing opportunities for college students), transition (improving the numbers of players moving from colleges to clubs) and sustain (improving player welfare and improving the quality of coaching and refereeing in colleges).
Some 21 colleges have been selected as for the 2017-18 season, including Chichester College.
Hamish Morton, further education RFU development officer, said: “We are delighted to welcome Chichester College into the England Rugby Focus Colleges programme. This partnership hopes to develop participants through rugby, both on and off the pitch, creating employable young people with transferable skills.”
Andrew Green, executive principal at Chichester College, added: “This is an exciting chance for Chichester College to play a key role in developing the sport in Chichester and the wider area.
“We are committed to offering our students the best opportunities, and this is just one of the ways we are able to deliver just that.
“We are proud to be home to an outstanding sports department, as we know how important sport, fitness and wellbeing is to ensuring our students can flourish.
“This is the latest development, and our Rugby Academy follows hot on the heels of our Football Academy and our involvement in Junior Leaders’ Field Gun competitions.”