The Leinster Rugby Age Grade teams began their summer programme at St Laurence O’Toole Athletic Club in Askea, Carlow, last week to begin working towards this year’s Interprovincial Championships.

Players that are aiming to be involved with the U18 Clubs, U18 Schools, U19 and U20 teams took part in various tests, which will then be repeated in August to see how individuals have progressed over the course of the summer.

Assessment days and involvement in the Age Grade set-ups is a crucial step along the Leinster Rugby player pathway.

As Director of Underage Athletic Development, Dave Fagan, noted when speaking to Leinster Rugby TV in Askea, only a few years ago two young players that have just had breakthrough seasons for Leinster and Ireland were preparing for the Interpros and taking part in Age Grade assessment days.

“We’ve had players like James Ryan and Jordan Larmour, they’ve all been down here and done all the testing and all the rest,” Fagan said.

“It’s very important for us to have a wide net to identify players and then to funnel them through and then hopefully go on to play for Leinster.

“It’s very important for our system that we produce 80-90% of our own players. We’re not like some of the other European clubs that will buy in players. It’s very important for both Irish rugby and Leinster Rugby that we produce our own players. It just rubberstamps that we are working in the 12 counties. This is ‘from the ground up’.”

Players like Ryan and Larmour breaking through and playing top-level European and international rugby aged 21 and 20, respectively, doesn’t happen by chance.

Sub-Academy Athletic Development Coach Danny Wood, also speaking to Leinster Rugby TV, outlined the importance of assessment days and how the sooner the province start working with young players, the sooner they will be ready to pull on a blue jersey.

“The main goal for us is to improve training age as soon as possible,” Wood told Leinster Rugby TV at St Laurence O’Toole Athletic Club.

“It’s not necessarily to do with their actual age, it’s just to get them more experience being involved in a professional set-up and getting used to a good training schedule – a regime.

“You look at boys that come in from year one to year three, the difference is astronomical. Unfortunately for some lads that come in late to this system, they have a bit of catching up to do, so that’s where it gets a bit more intensive for them.

“The likes of Jordan Larmour are ready at the age of 20. Five or six years ago it generally took a bit longer for that to happen. The more work we’re getting done at the younger ages the quicker they can develop and start pushing on for the senior team.”

Follow @LeinsterBranch on Twitter for the latest updates on all Leinster Rugby Age Grade teams.

Watch the full video from the Age Grade assessment day at St Laurence O’Toole Athletic Club below.