GREGOR Townsend's summer rugby academies will be launched on Sunday with the first in a series of open days in Edinburgh.
Scotland's most-capped international has created new academy camps for all abilities from boys and girls new to rugby to those looking to hone their skills and learn some Townsend tips for the next step up. The academies were criticised recently for charging 120 for a three-day course, compared with Scottish Football Association sessions costing a fraction of the price, but it hasn't deterred youngsters, with 400 signing up in Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Townsend said: "It is a brand new initiative in Scotland and, unfortunately, I don't have the benefit of lots of development officers or employed coaches to fall back on, like the SFA. But we will ensure there is one coach working with small groups.
"I wanted to make sure we had fully qualified coaches, who understand the need to make rugby fun, and encourage youngsters the way I was encouraged, to play entertaining rugby. We will make sure the experience all the youngsters get is worth every penny.
"I understand if some parents have found it too expensive when there is so much going on in the summer holidays, but I am delighted so many have signed up and they will have a ball.
"I feel passionately that youngsters all over Scotland should have the opportunity to try rugby and if I can help do that, it's fantastic. I have picked up a lot from my time in the game and hope that I can pass it on through these academies to benefit the next generation of rugby players."
Sunday's open day is the first of a series of free 'come and try' sessions throughout Scotland. It is on from 10am-12.30pm, at Portobello RFC, Cavalry Park, Duddingston Road West, but those interested in attending should register first by contacting course organisers Rugby Matters either by email at email@example.com or telephoning 0207 231 1869.