Highfield RFC are to formally link up with the Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and establish the first ever Rugby Academy at the club.
The Woodleigh Park-based club have announced the establishment of rugby bursaries for students attending the college with the holders to be part of the new Highfield Rugby Academy. The bursaries will be solely sponsored by BOC Gases.
The Academy will come under the management of Steve Ford, who was recently appointed head-coach once again of the Highfield senior team. Steve has been with the club for the past five years.
Academy members will have a full programme of weights training and nutrition and skills training available to them throughout the season. They will also have use of the superb facilities at CIT including the all weather running track and the modern gym. These facilities have been frequently used by the Munster rugby team.
The sessions will be carries out on campus at CIT minimising disruption to students. The Academy is open to any rugby player attending CIT and to new students coming in this year. Bursary holders will also play with CIT in competitions organised by the Irish Colleges Rugby Union and they will be eligible to play on their Munster and Irish Colleges team.
Highfield President Martin McNally said the bursaries offered a huge boost to the club. "For us CIT is a local college and we are delighted to have this opportunity to develop a relationship with them and promote the game of rugby in the area."
He added that the academy will be of great assistance in helping students integrate into the community surrounding Highfield, who presently field five senior teams, including an Under-20 side and a Youths section which caters for players from eight years and up. The club also have a vibrant Ladies section. This year, outgoing Ladies captain Marie Barrett will represent the club at the Women's World Cup in Canada.
The Academy is set to grow every year with plans for students to maintain their bursary for the entirety of his time at college, once academic standards are met.
Gerry Donovan, Business Director at BOC Gases, said: "BOC is delighted to support this initiative by Highfield RFC and CIT to promote high standards of rugby among CIT students. BOC has a long and successful association with Highfield and we see this as a great opportunity to develop and continue this relationship."
Mr. McNally added that Highfield, who this year celebrated their 75th anniversary, see the establishment of the Academy as a step in their plans to gain promotion and maintain AIB League Division One status in the near future.
Details on applications will be made available shortly.