BUILTH Wells Rugby Club has been hailed for its establishment of an under 17s section.

The Groe club’s work in bridging the gap between junior and senior level rugby has won growing acclaim from the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU).

Last season nearly 50 per cent of junior players were lost to the game between under 16s and senior level and prompted the WRU to develop a simpler community pathway system.

At the head of the scheme is former Builth Wells star Chris Ower who now works for the WRU with the remit of bridging the gap between under 16 and under 19 level.

Among the trailblazers of the new scheme is Builth Wells Rugby with under 17s coach Richard Lawrence praising the new initiative for breathing new life into the game.

“We have around 40 youth players on our books this season with 30 to 35 players training on average,” said Lawrence. “Our youth team is doing well in the league but what is more pleasing is that we haven’t lost a single player from our junior section.

“The introduction of the under 17 team has kept everyone interested in playing rugby rather than losing everyone bar the committed few who were prepared to sit on the bench for up to a season until they were good enough or big enough.

“As soon as we were told about the initiative last season, we spoke to our under 16s squad and you could see all their faces light up.

“We all train together so there’s still a good team spirit between all the boys but we split up for full contact or tackling sessions.

“It certainly bodes well for the club. We have a strong junior section with around 120 players but with the youth set-up getting this boost, it looks like we’ll have strength in depth for the seconds and firsts in future years.”