DPP Programme



The DPP is the development thread that is woven between CB, School and Club rugby and is not instead of, but alongside of and should support players in all appropriate programmes and their normal place of participation.

The England Rugby Player Pathway is the name given to a single system that helps identify where a player sits in relation to the different opportunities that exist. It includes associated development programmes, England Academy Player (EAP), Academy Player Development Group (PDG) and Developing Player Programme (DPP), playing opportunities in the community game at Under 16 and 18 and International playing opportunities at 18, 20, Saxons and England.

The DPP engages players aged 13-16 years-old and is a development programme that should interact with and complement the school, club and county playing programmes, providing further development opportunity without the conflict of competition. It supports the identification of players entering the professional game through Regional Academies.

It is a national programme managed by the RFU and delivered locally through a partnership between the RFU, Regional Academy and Constituent Bodies. Each programme is established within the fourteen Regional Academy boundaries. Clubs and schools will be invited to nominate players for inclusion in the programme.

The principle objective of DPP is to provide a consistent and high quality experience which is tailored to the needs of individual players to encourage their lifelong participation in rugby. It will identify those with talent and help them find the right direction to follow, whether that is into professional rugby or long term participation at a level appropriate to them.

An important element of the programme will be to enable ‘talent transfer’, encouraging potential rugby union players up to the age of 16 to join the game from playing other sports.

The programme will also enhance the development and quality of players who whom will contribute to their school/club programme and will go on to be the lifeblood of community rugby clubs within the Westcountry.


The Developing Player Programme (DPP) has a proud history of developing players who have progressed onto the Premiership and International stage.

These include the likes of Jack Nowell, Luke Cowan Dickie, Max Bodilly and Tom Hendrickson (all Cornwall DPP), Stu Townsend, Henry Slade, Jack Maunder, Joe Simmonds and Dave Ewers (all Devon DPP) to name but a few.

The DPP works closely with Devon and Cornwall schools to highlight players, across both Counties, who have potential to play to a County level, Elite Player Development Group (EPDG) and potential Exeter Chiefs Academy and England inclusion. Coaches Marc Dibble and Rich Siveter manage the DPP programme for Devon and Cornwall.

Exeter Chiefs Academy Coach Ruairi Cushion is the Head Coach of the programme, working closely with regional coaches across Devon and Cornwall, as well as Assistant Academy manager, Academy Coach and first team Skills coach Ricky Pellow, who runs the EPDG.

The core Devon DPP squads train twice a month at Sandy Park, similarly in Cornwall, there are also separate centres across the region running core sessions monthly.

Both Counties come together twice a season at Sandy Park to run Competitive festivals in order to assess player progression and highlight stand out players across the regions. DPP players can, if selected, represent their County teams at U15 and U16.

In addition they can represent the Exeter Chiefs Academy at U15 & U16, playing against other Premiership Academies and DPP’s from across the country.

The Player pathway for progression can develop from DPP to the Elite player Development Group (EPDG) and from here possible full Academy selection. The EDPG programme is for players selected by Academy staff and runs for ages 14 to 17. 


“To provide a first opportunity to identify those players with greatest potential to enter the pathway towards the professional game and England”


  • Provide a holistic and player centered experience for all players in the programme.
  • Assist to retain more players within the game post-16. 
  • Increase the number of players moving upwards in the player pathway. 
  • Develop coaches both within the player pathway and community game. 
  • Strengthen clubs and schools by improving the standard of the players with them. 
  • Simplify the player pathway by consolidating Constituency Bodies and Regional Academy activities.


The Community Game Board (CGB) of the Rugby Football Union will govern the policies and strategies for the DPP. Rugby Development and the Professional Rugby department will develop a framework for delivery to ensure national consistency that will allow for Regional Academy variation. 

These will be approved annually by CGB Player Development Sub Committee and Professional Game Board Player Pathway Group. 


The programme is a partnership between Rugby Football Union (RFU), Regional Academy (RA) & Constituent Body (CB). The governance of the programme is through the Regional Player Pathway Group (RPPG) including a membership of various stakeholders. The RPPG will be responsible for the compliance with age grade regulations, Player Pathway Calendar and implementation of the policies, strategies and delivery framework of the DPP.

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