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An issue with rugby in Wales

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jeremy windell View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote jeremy windell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: An issue with rugby in Wales
    Posted: 28 October 2022 at 1:30pm
Having now been involved in junior rugby for a number of years with my son, I believe I have identified a major issue that is having a detrimental effect on the Welsh game. 

I have seen that from an early age, certain players are earmarked for the future, but others are cast aside as not being good enough.

This was especially prevalent in the schoolboy set up.

If you were in the in crowd, or were big enough, you were in. The rest were cast aside with no direction as to how they could improve their game, and were lead to believe they weren't good enough at an early age.

Many of those discarded gave up the sport to play football, or whatever.

The ones who get through, their performance stagnated as they just don't have the competition to keep them sharp.

Another thing I've noticed is that the regions are great sending players out yo mini rugby, but where are they from under 14s and upwards? Surely when the kids are that bit older they will learn more?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fscarlet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 October 2022 at 2:24pm
The wider issue is the academy's that the regions offer. Alot of the time spaces are made up by players who's parents know someone or is a coach. The other issue with the academy's is they stop the under 18s from playing for their club of origin - I know that the Scarlets regularly schedule mandatory gym sessions before or during the time when the players clubs are due to play....
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Dic Penderyn View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dic Penderyn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 October 2022 at 3:23pm
Always thought that professionalism would bring an end to nepotism,patronage,favouritism and all that....it didn't.If anything it got worse.The current squad is a testimony to that.The whole set-up at Parc y Scarlets is pretty rotten.

Edited by Dic Penderyn - 28 October 2022 at 3:24pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Legendinmybathroom Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 October 2022 at 6:29pm
My experience of the academy system is that they will often play players out of position just fill a void.  
My nephew was invited into the 16s several years ago.  He played wing/centre for Burry Port and was scoring tries for fun (he was a bit of a freak of nature, being 6ft plus and about 14 stone at the time, but extremely fast at the same time (second fastest in his age group in carmarthenshire at the time)) due to his speed and size making him difficult to bring down when put in space.
However, within weeks of training with the academy he was told that he had to play in the second row and that he should play there for BP all blacks as well.  He reluctantly agreed to do so but you could clearly see that the enjoyment of playing, seeing plenty of the ball in open spaces, scoring lots of tries, just ebbed away.  He dropped out of the academy and played for BP for many more seasons but you could see that he wasn’t enjoying it as much and his fitness dropped off due to the differences in physical requirements of playing second row to centre/wing.

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Wil Chips View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Wil Chips Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 November 2022 at 7:15am
This one may sound far fetched but I'll give it a go.

I was on a staff outing on the Kenya coast at the weekend...and on Saturday looking for anywhere to watch the Wales game. Another guest there overheard me asking and said he was pitching his laptop/firestick up in a meeting room and watching the games on a projector screen (best and only offer, so I took him up!).

He was a Saffer and was involved in the hospitality sector, but prior to that ( up to 2021) was part of the South African Rugby Academy leadership team.

Fascinating insight on what their challenges are, and it did resonate a bit with Wales.

First of all, when set against only 4 fully pro teams, tight constraints on players numbers (45) and slim budget, the SA system simply over produces talent.

In 2019 he said they lost over twenty talented 16 year olds to other country academies/pathways, who were blatantly coming to to schools and U16 tournaments to harvest the talent around.
France being the most prominent ( took 13 that year), but other countries included Ireland, Japan, England and Scotland with one or two each.

They were offered terrific terms in comparison to what the SA system could offer, and of course the offer was guaranteed whereas the SA system was oversubscribed.

He said, luckily, the pandemic put a stop to players moving around and gave the SA authorities time to rethink their position.

Interestingly they have now formulated a formal partnership/relationship with a few of the French academies to actually allow players to move there...the outcome they planned was that some 40% of those that went there would ultimately decide not to play for their host country, and would elect to be available for SA...an outcome that worked for the SA set up apparently.






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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ladram Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 November 2022 at 7:55am
Sounds too well thought out for our union.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Eastern outpost Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 November 2022 at 8:05am
Originally posted by Wil Chips Wil Chips wrote:

This one may sound far fetched but I'll give it a go.

I was on a staff outing on the Kenya coast at the weekend...and on Saturday looking for anywhere to watch the Wales game. Another guest there overheard me asking and said he was pitching his laptop/firestick up in a meeting room and watching the games on a projector screen (best and only offer, so I took him up!).

He was a Saffer and was involved in the hospitality sector, but prior to that ( up to 2021) was part of the South African Rugby Academy leadership team.

Fascinating insight on what their challenges are, and it did resonate a bit with Wales.

First of all, when set against only 4 fully pro teams, tight constraints on players numbers (45) and slim budget, the SA system simply over produces talent.

In 2019 he said they lost over twenty talented 16 year olds to other country academies/pathways, who were blatantly coming to to schools and U16 tournaments to harvest the talent around.
France being the most prominent ( took 13 that year), but other countries included Ireland, Japan, England and Scotland with one or two each.

They were offered terrific terms in comparison to what the SA system could offer, and of course the offer was guaranteed whereas the SA system was oversubscribed.

He said, luckily, the pandemic put a stop to players moving around and gave the SA authorities time to rethink their position.

Interestingly they have now formulated a formal partnership/relationship with a few of the French academies to actually allow players to move there...the outcome they planned was that some 40% of those that went there would ultimately decide not to play for their host country, and would elect to be available for SA...an outcome that worked for the SA set up apparently.

It’s great when travel means you meet interesting folk.

Thanks. All very logical there and Ladram’s right.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gate12 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 November 2022 at 9:07am
I was in Holland earlier this year and they've gone for the option of tying in rugby with schooling through academies from a much younger age (it was either 12 or 13) and all their fees for being part of the local clubs were then waived to encourage them to keep playing for their local club to share knowledge and skills and try and improve standards all round.

I think we've got to look at what others are doing for inspiration and borrow a couple of bits from different places to do something that works for us.

I think one of the many issues in Wales is the reliance on the same small pool of players right the way from juniors to seniors.

The drop off rates from junior to senior rugby in Wales is very small compared to other nations which you'd usually think is a good thing but looking at the countries with higher drop off rates (New Zealand, Ireland, England, Italy and SA) it may not be such a good thing.

We probably need to encourage rugby to be more of a fun sport in schools/clubs that more people give a go and then drop out rather than having a smaller pool that largely stick with it.

I'd agree we do decide way too early who'll make it and don't cast the net wide enough from 15 onwards, I'm less convinced it's about who you know, I think it's just a poor structure with too much conflict and resources not being used well enough.

This is all largely redundant thinking though as we need our union to spell out their vision for rugby in Wales.


Edited by Gate12 - 15 November 2022 at 9:08am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lincscarlet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 November 2022 at 10:03am
There's a lot of schools over here in the part of England where I live who won't touch rugby full stop - all they see is broken bones and lawsuits on the horizon.  Which is a massive shame because unlike basketball, football etc rugby really does have an equal chance for all body types to get involved.  At junior level anyway.
I think everyone except the hotels and expenses brigade can see the governance issues, but the only way to sort that would be a total clear out of everyone involved and start again. That lot are involved in every sport believe me, it's not unique to welsh rugby. I honestly can't see the clubs being strong enough and united enough to effect change there, but the Union could pull their finger out and get a system in place now to boost participation in schools and therefore grass roots clubs upwards to give us a better player pool in 10-15 years time. 

Just my thoughts.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gate12 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 November 2022 at 10:18am
It's hard to criticise the approach from the WRU because we don't know what it is.

Are clubs the main route, or schools, or a mix?
Do we want high volumes in full rugby or are we happy with a proportion in alternative game formats (7's, 10's, touch)?
What's our participation target?
How do we identify late developers? Do we even want to?
Should the regions have autonomy in their own area for comps and season structures? Should the schools/colleges lead or WRU?
Is the exiles programme the answer? Should we be using this resource within Wales?
etc.
etc.

Until the WRU tell us what they're trying to do it's hard to say how well they're doing it or whether we agree with the approach.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RR1972 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 November 2022 at 10:24am
I was involved with age group rugby for a few years it is v rewarding but is v time consuming and everyone involved deserves credit. The issue now seems to be the drop in numbers at youth level allied to less and less school games. The regions academy setup took a huge knock back in covid as players barely played for 2 whole seasons. The academy scouts tend to select from the same clubs and schools as a rule as they are generally the most succesful sides year in year out. I’d say it’s a more unconcious biad than flat out nepotisim tbh. Our age group  side is proably the weakest of all the 4 pro regions at the moment but these things do go in cycles. The exiles programme is massive at the moment both ourselves and the ospreys use the college and uni set up to help here.  One thing i would point out is a club is for life school rugby will always end at 16 or 18 the clubs are far more important in keeping people involved long term than the schools

Edited by RR1972 - 15 November 2022 at 10:30am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gate12 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 November 2022 at 10:50am
The only thing I'm pretty sure of is that we're not making the most of the talent that's out there and there's plenty of desire at club level to have an input to solutions, change and improve which isn't being utilised. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RR1972 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 November 2022 at 10:54am
Covid put a block on the later developers to. Looks like they kept the bulk of the previous age group side en masse, hard call to change when no one was playing any games 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote thommo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 November 2022 at 10:56am
Originally posted by RR1972 RR1972 wrote:

I was involved with age group rugby for a few years it is v rewarding but is v time consuming and everyone involved deserves credit. The issue now seems to be the drop in numbers at youth level allied to less and less school games. The regions academy setup took a huge knock back in covid as players barely played for 2 whole seasons. The academy scouts tend to select from the same clubs and schools as a rule as they are generally the most succesful sides year in year out. I’d say it’s a more unconcious biad than flat out nepotisim tbh. Our age group  side is proably the weakest of all the 4 pro regions at the moment but these things do go in cycles. The exiles programme is massive at the moment both ourselves and the ospreys use the college and uni set up to help here.  One thing i would point out is a club is for life school rugby will always end at 16 or 18 the clubs are far more important in keeping people involved long term than the schools
Don't agree with your point on schools rugby. Look at the Leinster rugby model, they use the school system to identify and nurture talent and not the club system. In saying that their school system is fortunate in that they have a lot of financial input.
If the school system has the right mix of financial investment and rugby expertise then you will be building on a solid foundation.
New Zealand and South Africa again pit huge emphasis on underage and schoolboy rugby.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fscarlet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 November 2022 at 11:02am
Our schools, certainly in West Wales don't seem to play many inter school matches in either rugby or football now which I think reduces peoples desire to play.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RR1972 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 November 2022 at 11:21am
Originally posted by thommo thommo wrote:

Originally posted by RR1972 RR1972 wrote:

I was involved with age group rugby for a few years it is v rewarding but is v time consuming and everyone involved deserves credit. The issue now seems to be the drop in numbers at youth level allied to less and less school games. The regions academy setup took a huge knock back in covid as players barely played for 2 whole seasons. The academy scouts tend to select from the same clubs and schools as a rule as they are generally the most succesful sides year in year out. I’d say it’s a more unconcious biad than flat out nepotisim tbh. Our age group  side is proably the weakest of all the 4 pro regions at the moment but these things do go in cycles. The exiles programme is massive at the moment both ourselves and the ospreys use the college and uni set up to help here.  One thing i would point out is a club is for life school rugby will always end at 16 or 18 the clubs are far more important in keeping people involved long term than the schools
Don't agree with your point on schools rugby. Look at the Leinster rugby model, they use the school system to identify and nurture talent and not the club system. In saying that their school system is fortunate in that they have a lot of financial input.
If the school system has the right mix of financial investment and rugby expertise then you will be building on a solid foundation.
New Zealand and South Africa again pit huge emphasis on underage and schoolboy rugby.
they tend to be boarding schools in dublin and sa with all the facilities and paid coaches try getting some where like coedcae to fund a s and  c conditiong programme
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