Tonbridge Juddians Academy
TJs Academy is the U16-U18 section of the club and has around 100 active players within the three age groups each season. TJs Academy is non-selective and aims to provide every player with the best possible rugby experience they could wish for in their final years as a junior rugby player.
TJs Academy is led by Head of Academy, Gareth Withers. Gareth is supported by an excellent team of coaches and administrators as well as physio, strength and conditioning and sports psychologist support. You can learn more about all those involved in delivery of the TJs Academy programme on the TJs Academy Staff page.
We are always looking to increase our number and welcome new recruits so if you would like to join the leading grassroots Academy set up in the country please get in touch. We cater for all levels of players from Premiership Academy to school B and C team players but ask that all those involved have a desire to improve their game and work hard to do so. If you are U16-U18 (School Years 11-13) and would like to play rugby for TJs Academy we would love to have you.
Please contact: Gareth Withers – Head of Academy
firstname.lastname@example.org or 07739455783
PLEASE READ the attached CLUB'S CODES OF CONDUCT and abide by it to ensure that everyone gets to enjoy their TJs rugby
How does TJs Academy work and when is training?
Although TJs Academy covers three separate age groups they very much work as one. All three age groups train together on Wednesday nights from 6.45-8.30pm with matches taking place on Sundays.
Training sessions start in mid July and take place at the custom built, floodlit Vizards 3G facility at Judd School in Tonbridge and training numbers usually sit at around 60 most weeks.
Training sessions tend to be highly active and intense affairs focusing on players’ individual skills and technique, team play and game understanding. That said, we are always mindful of players individual loads, especially during the school season, so all players are encouraged to attend and get something from the session even if they need a lighter training load due to school commitments.
Our aim is to help every player improve and produce highly competitive teams that play good rugby. We appreciate this is a busy time of life for the boys and that some may be away at boarding school during the week. Therefore, whilst training is strongly encouraged an inability to regularly make midweek training sessions should not prevent you joining and playing for TJs Academy.
What kit do I need to buy?
Just a pair of TJs socks! On entering the Academy you will be provided with a full kit bundle courtesy of our sponsors, generous supporters and the fund raising efforts of TJs Academy players and family members. That said, any contributions towards the cost of kit is greatly appreciated or better still see the Sponsorship and Fund Raising page for more ways in which you can contribute to supporting TJs Academy.
The kit bundle includes TJs Academy branded playing shorts, a warm-up/training t-shirt, post-game polo shirt and contact training top. In total this is worth over £100 per player. TJs Academy vests are also available to purchase. Match shirts and subs coats are provided on match days and laundered by the club.
Is TJs Academy Successful?
In a word… Yes! No matter how you measure success TJs Academy has had lots of it!
TJs Academy has enjoyed an active playing membership of around 100 players for most of its first decade of existence.
TJs were National Champions in 2015, 2017 and 2023, runners-up in 2022. In nine full seasons (taking out the 2020-21 season lost to Covid) TJs Academy have made the last 16 or better on seven occasions including six quarter final appearances, five semi finals and four trips to the National Cup Final with three titles.
TJs Academy graduates have made almost 300 appearances for the 1st XV in the National Leagues and over 100 players have gone on to play senior rugby for the club at some level.
Since its establishment at the start of the 2013-14 season TJs Academy have won multiple Kent titles and finished in the top four of every competition, every season in every age grade they have entered.
What help do I get when I am injured?
TJs Academy employs an experienced and qualified physio, Jess Rugg, who holds clinics at Wednesday evening training sessions and provides services including injury diagnosis and treatment, rehabilitation programmes and taping. Jess is a full time Physiotherapist who also works as part of our 1st XV medical team and holds a pitch side qualification. She works closely with the coaching and management team to ensure we have the players’ best interests at heart.
This season Jess will be supported by Alex Reid. Alex is a former member of TJs Academy who was a 2015 National Cup winner and is a current 1st XV player. Alex is in the final stages of physio training but is also already a qualified Personal Trainer. Alex will combine his role supporting Jess with providing return to play strength and conditioning advice and, when time allows, will also visit the training field to pass on tips to the front row gleaned from his almost century of appearances in TJs 1st XV front row in the National Leagues.
Further help in injury rehabilitation and prevention can be sought from former 1st XV Strength and Conditioning coach, Mase Leuluniu through his company IPT Fitness. Mase runs a variety of programmes offering expert advice and training programmes for young rugby players and many TJs Academy players employ his services. Likewise, TJs Academy Sports Psychologist, Mark Healey, will be happy to help with the mental issues of injury and help players work towards returning to play. Mark can also advise on how players can work on their game whilst physically out of action.
Strength and Conditioning support?
TJs Academy employs two Strength and Conditioning coaches who can provide support and advice. In addition to Alex Reid (see above) Max Wheeler joins the TJs Academy staff this season as an Academy Apprentice Forwards and Strength and Conditioning coach. Max was part of the TJs 'class of 23' who made back to back National Cup Finals, finishing as runners up in 2022 and becoming National Champions in 2023. Having a real passion for S&C, Max has experience of high performance training programmes from his time in Saracens Academy and his private programmes with Mase Leuluniu. Max is currently undertaking his own qualifications in this area whilst combining his coaching with a 1st XV playing contract.
TJs Academy provides all players with generic off-season and pre-season programmes based on positional requirements but further advice can be sought from Alex and Max and bespoke individual programmes can be provided on a private basis at additional cost.
Video analysis and other support?
TJs Academy makes use of several forms of video analysis including the same broadcast camera, filming platform and ref mic system used for 1st XV National League games and benefits from the services of professional cameraman and club member Mark Sonnex. Footage is then coded (time stamped with events) by Pro-Sports Analysis and shared via our CoachLogic platform. TJs Academy also owns a Veo camera which is used regularly. All footage is shared with players and parents for development purposes and can also be used for GCSE, A Level and other educational courses as required. Players receive advice on how to analyse their own performance and that of the team.
Footage is nothing without quality analysis and TJs Academy has several coaches who have years of experience in this area, specifically Head of Academy, Gareth Withers, who has been TJs 1st XV analyst for over a decade and 1st XV Head Coach, Seb Sherwood, who provides these services for England Rugby including the mens senior side.
TJs Academy also offers Sports Psychology support from Plega, in the form of Lead Academy Forwards Coach Mark Healey. Mark has a degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology and Plega is his own Sports Psychology consultancy practice where he has worked with professional Rugby Union and Football League clubs as well as members of the European PGA Tour. Mark also works a lot in the background guiding the overall approach of TJs Academy to get the best out of our players and them, the best out of themselves.