ELITE county youth rugby coaching is taking a big upheaval in Cornwall as changes are being made to the system.

Bosses at Cornwall Rugby Union have made significant changes to their development programme which will see players studying at secondary schools around the Duchy do training at either Penryn College, Penwith College, Newquay Tretherras School or Sir James Smith School in Camelford.

This downsizes the amount of centres from five to four and will also see school trials scrapped.

The focus instead will look at coaching the players throughout the age groups with the chance of moving in and out of the county’s elite squad and the Cornwall Schools Team.

Another change will see games take place between the groups based at the centres on a monthly basis at Truro College to give the youngsters match experience.

Dave “Benji” Thomas, the former Cornwall County team coach and now youth development co-ordinator, said: “These changes have been driven by the schools and the county so that we have no more trials and instead give more coaching and games instead to the boys.

“What we want to do is start looking at the players marked out as potential elite players at the age of 13 and 14 and then work with them to get them playing a style of rugby which will be used by the county side.

“It will give us more of a chance to look at the players development as they grow up and make it a lot, lot easier for coaches to pick the best players for future county sides as they’ll have a better idea of what they are like.”

Thomas also feels the changes will be beneficial to the players themselves and their club sides, especially with the increased game time being introduced.

“We will be able to see what the players are like in a competitive game,” he said.

“It is all well and good doing lots of training, but what defines the elite players from the average players is what they are like in crunch situations, which can only be developed through playing matches.

“I think these changes will really help enhance the players’ skills and also help local clubs as they will be getting better players coming back to them.”

For more details, visit www.cornwall-rfu.org.uk.