Becoming a professional rugby player requires extreme discipline. It’s about time and energy dedicated to perfecting skills – but without the right guidance, many players don’t know where to start. That’s why Nashua is driving the Rugby Skills Project: a programme dedicated to rapidly improving young rugby players’ passing and catching skills under the watchful eye of experts.
The Nashua Rugby Skills Project aims to improve ball skills at schools across South Africa by 20%. The challenge began at the end of 2015 and has already benefitted 400 children so far through its skills improvement coaching clinics.
Practise for perfection
The initiative was conceptualised by The Great Sporting Goods Company, who runs The ShadowBall Academy, a rugby skills academy focused on ball skills (passing and catching). The academy uses a uniquely designed, flat-sided ball, the ShadowBall, which allows players to practise passing and catching on their own, without a field or team, to increase the frequency of practice.
The ShadowBall, designed by Gary Crookes, can be thrown against a wall and caught by the player to improve accuracy. It gives rugby players the chance to practise passing and catching on their own, in the same way golfers do on the driving range.
Bettering sports skills
Nashua franchises across South Africa will put forward schools in their area to be visited by the Rugby Skills Project Road Show. Each selected school will be paired with an underprivileged school in the same region, and both schools’ teams will have the full experience of the Rugby Skills Project.
Over 36 schools will be visited in total, with each school visited twice, to ensure thorough training and improvement of skills. Following the workshops, every school will be given their own Rugby Skills Project pack, containing 10 ShadowBalls and a coach’s carry bag, manual and log books for training.
Nurturing a generation
“The programme is just one way we can transfer values and share insights about the discipline required to become a pro, as well as boost skills by highlighting the most important parts of the game – passing and catching,” says ShadowBall Academy ambassador, former Super Rugby player and SuperSport presenter, Gcobani Bobo. “Through the Rugby Skills Project, young players can hone their skills and gain a better understanding of exactly what they need to do – on a daily basis – to reach their full sporting potential.”
The Rugby Skills Project is just one display of the various ways Nashua supports local sport – from school to provincial level. The initiative marks a new era in Nashua’s mission to nurture the next generation of rugby stars – giving them the resources and leadership they need to reach their full potential.