With such a large geographical spread - it takes around three hours to drive from one end of the Academy area to the other - the club has created three satellite centres to ensure that players within the Academy have all the support they need without the burden of spending several hours at a time on the A14!
These centres are based at St Joseph's College in Ipswich, The Leys School in Cambridge and at the University of Bedfordshire in Bedford, with a fourth centre based at the Saints' home at Franklin's Gardens. While the rugby coaching takes place on a Monday at either Stowmarket RFC or BBOB RFC in Northampton, the satellite centres provide hubs for supervised strength and conditioning training and physiotherapy support.
Each centre holds a session on a Thursday, with every fourth session being run by Chris Hart and Caroline White from the Saints' Performance department. The other strength and conditioning sessions are supervised by sports science students to guidelines drawn up by Chris, with five physiotherapists working under Caroline's guidance.
As young players progress through the Academy system more sessions are held at Franklin's Gardens, culminating in the full-time professionals of the Senior Academy who train and play alongside members of the senior squad.
East Midlands Rugby Union
The East Midlands is a long-standing hotbed of rugby, with many of the country's top international players donning the EMRU's traditional dark green. Indeed, up until recently the EMRU team participated in one of rugby's oldest and most historic fixtures, the Mobbs Memorial Match. And while the Mobbs Match is now being rotated between the Saints and Bedford - the East Midlands' two biggest clubs - the EMRU still has a hands-on management role with the occasion.
The Saints Academy works very closely with the EMRU's Schools of Rugby, which are based at the club's partner college, Moulton College. These nine sessions provides the Academy staff the opportunity to work with and develop local coaches and spot potential talent.
Eastern Counties Rugby Union
The ongoing development of the Saints Academy coaching staff means that the club is now in a position to put more resources into the Eastern Counties part of the Saints Academy region. Players have already graduated through the Elite Player Development Group into the full-time ranks - Alex Day in the Senior Academy, Mike Haywood into the Saints first team squad - and the Academy staff is confident they are just the first of many.
The Eastern Counties Rugby Union (ECRU) includes Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, with the first two of those counties included in the Saints Academy region. However with this region so large in geographical terms every individual county has its own separate administration.
Players can be nominated for Schools of Rugby by their school or identified by playing for their sub-county. Full information about this process is available from the relevant constituent body.
Stowmarket Rugby Club has made great leaps forward over the past few years both on the playing side and development of the club's facilities. The Suffolk club can boast six league promotions in eight years and now regarded as one of the fastest up and coming rugby clubs in the Eastern region. Based at Chilton Fields Sports Club, Stowmarket can boast not only several full sized rugby pitches on natural turf, but also an all-weather pitch and a state-of-the-art clubhouse that was built as recently as 2009 thanks to a Lottery grant.
2011/12 was the club's 50th anniversary and while pre-season plans called for consolidation after promotion the previous campaign, the club instead ended the season celebrating back-to-back promotions and a spot in London 2 NE.
Past Suffolk Cup finalists, too, the club has continually moved forward over the past few years and now has an established youth and junior Section, with over 250 youngsters playing youth rugby at Stowmarket across 12 teams this season, not to mention four sides playing in the senior leagues. Stowmarket's continued success has been built upon traditional values starting at the earliest of age groups. Last season the club had eight U20 Suffolk County players, many of whom started with Stowmarket at Mini/Midi level.
The club host the Saints Eastern Counties EPDG, encompassing Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, for regular training sessions.
Northampton BBOB RFC
Local club Northampton BBOB kindly provide their facilities for the Saints East Midlands EPDG to train on but also maintain a proud rugby heritage themselves. With four senior teams all involved in competitive matches and a youth system that stretches from Under-7s right through to Under-17s, Northampton BBOB are a superb local club for developing young talent.
BBOB are based less than a mile from Franklin's Gardens and the Saints' very own home-grown talent Paul Diggin played for the club at a junior level before progressing through the Academy ranks in into the Saints first team. Along with former first team club mate Brett Sharman, the winger was at the helm of a BBOB first XV that gained promotion to Midlands Division Two last season and also reached the Northants Alliance Cup final at the Gardens.
Their St. Andrews Mill home boasts a state-of-the-art gym and rehab centre onsite, two full size pitches and a clubhouse with members lounge, a 30-foot bar and function room for up to 500.