BOURNEMOUTH Collegiate School (BCS) and Glenmoor and Winton Academies have announced the launch of the United Learning Rugby Academy in affiliation with London Irish Rugby Club.

The unique partnership between an independent and a state school, both part of United Learning, means that pupils from both schools will play in the same team – a national first in terms of school rugby.

The United Learning Rugby Academy will offer training with four London Irish coaches four times a week with sessions organised around the school day.

The Academy will enter U14 and U16 boys’ teams into the county competition as well as offering an U13 Development Group.

Those entering the team’s firsts squad have undergone a gruelling selection process and weekend boot camp run by London Irish coaches. Over the course of the season, more players will be invited to join.

The Academy will be launched tomorrow.

Ben Parnell, above left, executive head of Glenmoor and Winton said: “We are delighted to be working with London Irish and BCS on this.

“It gives our students the opportunity to finesse their talent in rugby under the guidance and training of outstanding professionals.

“We encourage all our students to find an activity or skill that they can excel at and, for those of our boys and girls for whom rugby is their passion, this is a magnificent and unparalleled opportunity.”

Stephen Duckitt, left, principal of Bournemouth Collegiate School added: “Our strength in sport is already well known nationally and therefore the opportunity to work both with London Irish, as part of their development programme, and with our fellow United Learning schools in Bournemouth, is an opportunity not to be missed.

“Everyone involved in sport at BCS is excited by the possibilities that this new initiative can bring to our whole school.

“Every sportsperson learns from the experience and training of their contemporaries.

“So to add excellence in rugby to our existing portfolio is incredibly helpful.”