BASINGSTOKE RFC’s director of rugby James Croker is excited about a new venture for the club, which will see them link-up with Basingstoke College of Technology (BCoT) to launch a new rugby academy this autumn.

Croker said: “As a club, we want to go out into the comm-unity. This is a great new project for us and I am looking forward to working with BCoT.”

“I love coaching out on the field and I am looking forward to this new challenge.

“The pressure will not be on getting results in matches. It will be focussed on developing the abilities of the players and taking them to the next level.”

It is hoped ’Stoke will have a squad of around 30 players and the progra-mme will involve six to eight hours of training a week, which will take place at Down Grange.

This will be part of a level three extended diploma in sport, with the rest of the studying done at BCoT.

Croker said: “A lot of Premiership sides do something similar, but I believe we are the first National Three club to do this.”

Details on how players can join the academy are currently being finalised.

More community projects are in the pipeline at Basingstoke RFC and this has been made possible by the club’s community sponsor, AXA Wealth.