Gordon Ross: Worcester Warriors academy coach wants regular fixtures

Jamie Shillcock
Jamie Shillcock had to have time off school so he could be part of Warriors' squad for the Championship play-off final last season

Worcester Warriors academy backs coach Gordon Ross says more regular, competitive fixtures are needed to help the development of their young players.

With a limited number of A-League and under-18 fixtures providing the only opportunity, Ross wants more game time for up-and-coming talent.

"We need to try and get more games," Ross told BBC Hereford & Worcester.

"They work hard but we don't want them in the gym all the time. We want them playing, especially at weekends."

Outside academy and youth matches, the only option to get regular rugby for players not in first-team contention is to send them out on loan.

Warriors currently have five players loaned to other clubs, with two more on dual-registration.

Former Scotland international and London Welsh assistant coach Ross, who has been with the Premiership club since April 2015, says Warriors intend to work hard to get a better environment for its budding stars.

"Somehow we've got to get fixtures for them. You don't want to train all week only to not play at the weekend," Ross said.

"We want to play more and hopefully, over the next couple of years, that will happen."

Academy graduates who made the grade

Matt Cox, Alex Grove, Max Stelling and England full-back Chris Pennell have all graduated from the Warriors' academy into the first team in the past.

More recently, full-back Ben Howard, centre Dean Hammond and second-row Christian Scotland-Williamson have joined them as the Premiership side continue to heavily invest in their academy structure.

Four Worcester players started England's Under-20 Six Nations international against Wales last Friday and two other youth internationals - scrum-half Jamie Shillcock, 17, and flanker Sam Ripper-Smith, 20 - have just signed new contracts at Sixways.

"That can only be good for the future," Ross added.

"We're beginning to get guys coming through and if a player's 50-50 about whether to come here and they see players get given opportunities in the first-team environment at Worcester, it'll encourage them to come."