Training with Leicester Tigers and Toulon aids progression of Young Norfolk Sports Academy rugby ace

Young Norfolk Sports Academy, David Barclay.Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Young Norfolk Sports Academy, David Barclay.Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

In the first of our monthly updates, David Barclay talks about his progress with the Young Norfolk Sports Academy.

Young Norfolks Sports Academy logo

Young Norfolks Sports Academy logo - Credit: Submitted

Rugby union player David Barclay is one of 14 young athletes receiving coaching from the recently launched Young Norfolk Sports Academy.

The 17-year-old Norwich School student, from Ludham, plays as a number eight and has trained with the academies of English giants Leicester Tigers and France's reigning European champions Toulon.

In a first of our monthly updates with the YNSA athletes, David gives us an insight into his sporting development.

Young Norfolk Sports Academy rugby player David Barclay during his time with Leicester Tigers.

Young Norfolk Sports Academy rugby player David Barclay during his time with Leicester Tigers. - Credit: Submitted


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I have had approximately 14 years' experience of playing rugby at different levels; in the five past years I have been lucky to have had the chance to improve and develop a lot both at school and externally.

During the most recent years of my rugby career, I have played representative rugby for North Walsham RFC, Norwich School, Norfolk and Eastern Counties, Leicester Tigers, Toulon and Provence-Cote-d'Azur, as I am half-French.

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My average weekly timetable is a busy one. Mondays, weight programme in the gym and Eastern Counties training; Tuesdays, sevens rugby training; Wednesdays, weight programme in the gym and cardio programme on the track; Thursdays, sevens rugby training and weight programme in the gym; Fridays, rest; Saturdays, weight programme; Sundays, rugby club training.

I train with the Leicester Tigers academy during school time, and during the holidays I train with the Toulon academy. I have a scheduled match for Eastern Counties against Yorkshire within the next month and there will be many more matches following on closely.

Young Norfolk Sports Academy rugby player David Barclay during his time with Toulon.

Young Norfolk Sports Academy rugby player David Barclay during his time with Toulon. - Credit: Submitted

To keep at my peak, not only do I train playing rugby but I also keep strong and fit by weight training in the gym and cardio training on the track. One of my goals was to be doing at least one training session per day, which has become attainable thanks to the YNSA.

The academy offers coaching in the various aspects of life for an elite athlete such as nutrition, injury rehabilitation and psychology. The UEA Sportspark, one of the YNSA sponsors, has given me access to their facilities – such as the gym, running track, sports programmes etc – which has allowed me to train off the pitch, as well as on it; and they are hoping to give us access to even more facilities in the future.

I personally, and probably many others, find it difficult to get the right nutrition needed for my sport and my everyday life. I find it hard to overcome cravings and struggle to know what foods I should eat, what time, how big the portion should be, any extras etc. A recent YNSA lecture on the topic earlier in the year really helped me in this area. I learned a huge amount about nutrition and how I can tailor it to my requirements. It explained about things such as the percentage of fats, carbohydrates and proteins I should be eating, when I should eat, pre- and post-training and much more.

The YNSA is already playing a huge role in my development as a rugby player. Its many useful lectures, facilities and people help me achieve my personal goals. Meeting the other members has been a huge benefit and it has a vital role in seeing how others cope with pressure, balancing their lifestyles and even getting advice from others.

Richard Sims and Tim Newenham have done an excellent job in creating YNSA and I am grateful to be involved in such an advanced programme.

Vital guidance for youngsters

The Young Norfolk Sports Academy (YNSA) is aiming to bring together young talent from different sports, to offer coaching in the various aspects of life for an elite athlete, as well as expert support, training and education.

The YNSA athletes will be part of a physical tracking programme and will develop their understanding of topics such as nutrition, psychology, injury rehabilitation and handling the media.

Norwich School completed a successful pilot scheme with their own athletes during the last academic year and has now extended the opportunity across the county.

Applicants for the YNSA needed to be between 15 and 18 years old and ranked in the top 10 of their chosen sport in their home country in their age group, and also have a proven record of performance.

For more information, go to www.ynsa.org.uk

Related links

Young Norfolk Sports Academy is making good progress

Sports academy launched to develop Norfolk's talent

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