Formed 2004 ... Herts 7s U14 Runners-up 2005 ... North Herts U14 team, Herts Youth Games 2005 runners-up (coached by Letchworth)... Herts Superteams U14 Runners-up 2005 ... Herts SuperTeams "Fairplay" winners 2006 ... Rochford 10s U17 Champions 2006 ... East Midlands 10s U17 Runners-up 2007 ... East Midlands 10s U17 "Fairplay" winners 2007 ... National 10s U17 5th place and "Fairplay" winners 2007 ... Herts 7s U17 Plate runners-up 2007 ... National 7s U17 Plate winners 2007 ... RFU "President's XV" Award winners 2007 ... Herts Superteams winners 2007 ... Midlands 10s U18 Runners-up 2008 ... National 10s U18 4th place 2008 ... North Herts U11 team, Herts Youth Games 2008 runners-up (coached by Letchworth girls) ... London and SE 7s U18 Plate runners-up 2008 ... Herts 7s U18s runners-up 2008 ... National 7s U18s quarter-finalists 2008 ... Gloucester City 10s U18 Bowl runner-up (6th) 2009 ... Worthing 10s U18 Plate runner-up 2009 ... National 7s U18 Plate winners 2009... Worthing 10s U15 Plate winners 2010... Worthing 10s U18 Shield winners 2010... Herts 7s U15 and U18 Bowl runners-up 2010... National 7s U18 Plate runners-up 2010...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

There is another way - an alternative to regional rugby

Picking up from the previous article on regional rugby, the correspondent who prompted the article also asked "would you have a proposal that might be better?"

Okay, not to shirk a challenge, I'll give it a go...

Currently girls' rugby has a truly amazing number of tiers of performance - at least six:
  • "Elite" level:
    • TDG/Schools of Rugby (top 30 or so girls in each age group)
    • Super-league (top 50)
    • HPAs (top 100)
  • "Developmental" level:
    • Region (11 regions - so top 300)
    • County (28 "constituent bodies")
  • "Grassroots" level:
    • Club (???)
For a small sport this is an incredible, even ridiculous, number. What is more the tiers do not run alongside each other, but dove-tail into each other, so a girl who is in the TDGs also benefits from regional and county rugby, whereas a girl falling just outside the structure does not benefit at all.

In addition the terms are hardly well defined - in particular what is meant by "development level" is open to an extraordinarily wide interpretation, to the extent that in practice it is meaningless.

And finally the actual function of each tier varies across the country. In Hertfordshire county rugby has been a pretty elite in the past, but in other parts of the country (where the club game may be less developed) the county team is the only way that girls get to play. The system is therefore inconsistent - a player who in one place might barely beyond county level elsewhere might get as far as the HPAs.

Far simpler might be a more clearly defined structure - perhaps based on
three tiers:

1. Participation level:
  • The development aim would be for this to be club level rugby
  • Temporary combinations of clubs, agreed by CB, allowed up to county level if there were insufficient players at individual clubs.
  • The aim would be to guarantee that any girl wanting to play would be given an opportunity to play regardless of ability.
2. Representative level:
  • The development aim would be for this to be county level rugby
  • In areas where the game was insufficiently developed there might be combinations of counties for an interim period.
  • The aims would be
    • to give potentially talented girls a chance to play at a higher level
    • to allow talented girls to be identified for the elite level.
  • Ultimately the programme's calendar would be linked to the boys'/men's county programme
By having this tier based at county level potentially most training and team development could happen midweek, thus reducing still more the need to set weekends aside for representative rugby. An open training policy - much as Hertfordshire are likely to have this year - would also potentially remove the need for selection weekends.

3. Elite level:
  • Top 40/50 girls in each age group
  • The U18s to be the England U18 squad (practically every other major rugby-playing country has one, why not England?)
  • Equivalent to the current Super-league/TDG level
  • Run on the same weekends as representative rugby. As mentioned in the previous article, it is debatable how valuable regional/county level rugby is to the development of potential England players.
  • Initial selection over the preceding summer - though players might be dropped to or promoted from county level during the season.
So there we are, anonymous correspondent. I do not expect for one moment that RFUW would take a blind bit of notice of this - and I would not suggest that this is perfect - but I would still suggest that the result of my back-of-an-envelope few minutes of thought would be far simpler, would require far fewer weekends to be set aside for non-club rugby, would allow more girls to benefit from representative rugby, and would improve the development structure of potential England players.

Feel free to suggest alteratives.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Total Pageviews (since June 2009)

Sport Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory