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Friday, February 06, 2009

All regional games off

All regional games across the country have been cancelled this weekend - and the RFUW have confirmed that the junior games will be replayed next Sunday while the senior games will now be played on the 22nd.

Needless to say its a decision that is going down really well with club coaches and managers across the country. As one (who wished to remain anonymous - and incidentally doesn't that desire for anonymity when making even mild criticism say so much?) said:
"We have fixtures arranged, and non regional girls looking forward to a game, but now they have to wait another three weeks to play... This is [being done] just to justify the £75 fee"
Many defend the current regional system, seeing it as the first step of the elite rugby, bringing the best players together - so maybe I could explain the problem using the statistics recently unearthed from the IRB. 

The fundamental difficulty is that regional rugby is not elite rugby (and, to be fair, RFUW do not claim it is - and indeed it was never intended to be). true elite programme would take only the top 5% of players, maybe 10% at most. In fact, if you do the maths, you'll find that the boy's county programme - the bottom rung of their elite programme (and therefore comparable to girls regional rugby) does indeed select, on average, roughly the top 5% of players. Such a narrow selection brings the best players together without taking away so many from the clubs that it brings grassroots rugby to a standstill

The girls regional programme, on the other hand, pulls out some 240 or so girls in each age band from a pool of perhaps 1200-1500 active players across the country - so that's nearer to 15-20%. That is not an "elite" - so much so that it is debatable how much truly elite players benefit from it.

But what is not debatable is that the remaining 80+% of girls suffer - and there is a certain irony that a programme designed to give girls more rugby is now stopping girls playing. Yes, in some counties like Hertfordshire officials go to huge lengths to fill the gap by bringing clubs together, but its far from universal (as the above non-Herts coach confirms) or perfect and will not suit everyone. Its a sticking plaster on a wound the game has inflicted on itself. Certainly at club level the impetus is lost - coaches find themselves with four or five week gaps between club fixtures, unable to build a team or work on any problems. And when their one window that they have been building towards is slammed in their face at a week's notice it is to be expected that they and their players might be a shade upset.

Have a county programme  (as we had in Herts this year) that is accessible to virtually all players, and a truly elite (divisional ?) programme by all means - it'd be cheaper for starters! But the strange half-way house that is the current regional programme is neither one thing or the other and causes more harm than good.


  1. Anonymous8:51 PM

    I agree with John and the anonymous quote that the regional programme does affect club rugby to an extent that maybe it shouldn't but feel the regional programme in its current form should be supported. We, Norfolk Nomads, have also been directly affected by this decision to postpone and whilst I agree that it is causing problems for the majority we cannot mitigate for what has been a truly miserable couple of months with regard to the weather.
    I don't believe we are far from being able to run club, county and region fixtures together and getting rid of the region programme is not the answer to the problem, having a bigger pool of players is.
    Maybe the RFUW should be investing some of the revenue into promoting the girls game more vigorously.
    Malcolm (Norfolk Nomads)

  2. But what is the Regional Programme FOR, Malcolm? What is it trying to do? Once we can agree what it is for we can judge whether or not it is achieving its aim - or whether there is a better way.

    After all, the regional programme is not a holy cow. At least one region will vanish once the merger goes through anyway (because RFU regions are different), so reviewing the entire structure would make sense.

    One major problem with RFUW is that they never stop doing something - they just bolt a new programme on back of what is already there.

    So we have club, county, region, Super League, HPAs, county TDGs, national TDGs, schools of rugby... its not a structure, its total madness. Something has got to go - several things IMHO. And as regional rugby clearly is no longer doing what it was set up to do then it is, to my eyes, high on the list for "A Serious Rethink". With extreme prejudice.

  3. Anonymous9:58 PM

    The decision to rearrange these matches has come from the rfuw and not the regions as you see from the following quote.

    The re-arranged dates are all ‘friendlies/local tournaments’ in the RFUW calendar and these regional games will now take precedence.

    Fair enough a decision has been made but what i do not understand was why the contingency plans had not been made public earlier.The first i had been made aware of this was by john on this web site earlier this week. Maybe this should have been communicated at the beginning of the regional programme as there was every chance that by doing the regional matches in february that there could be problems with the weather. At least then clubs could have been aware that this was the back up date in case of cancelled regional fixtures.Silly question to ask and i hope this does not happen but does this mean that if the regional matches that are due to take place on the 22/02 are also affected by the weather and cancelled,will they also be moved to the next club day on 01/03.

  4. Point taken John, IF the region programme was set up JUST to increase the number of games available for the girls to enjoy then it does need reviewing, however I was under the impression that it was intended as a 'step up' from county where 'the elite' could shine and would then be signposted for 'talent development'.
    Sounds a bit Orwellian doesn't it?
    As for why the contingency plans were not made public beforehand could it be that there were no contingancy plans, as the RFUW had no idea that we would have the audacity to presume to make club fixtures.

  5. Regional rugby existed before county rugby, so it was not established as a "step up", more the latter came in as a "step down". Regional rugby also came before HPAs and TDGs and virtually all of the other many higher levels.

    It is an anomaly - a "development level" programme that most players are excluded from, and an "elite" level that maybe 1 in 5 players can attain (so not very elite!)

  6. Anonymous9:47 AM

    The regional programme helps justify the CCO role in targeting girls to be part of TDG and then National TDG. Have just spent most of the night on the email - one letting people know of cancellation and reschedule of Regional fixture and then to clubs in are explaining tht next weeks CTM is now a regional day and reorganising things for them so that the non regional girls can get a game!!! My time is never my own as you can tell and get a litle fed up with the fact that no provision was actually put in place just in case its cancelled, but a rush job to justift the payment - oh and by the way you may loose some girls as England Colleges v Scotland is on Saturday 14th in Edinburgh and it is also the first weekend of the half term break.

  7. That's the point I was trying to make and I can see both sides of the argument, with all things being equal and the weather being resonable this problem wouldn't have arisen. Now that it has and with the rise in the number of girls being available allowing clubs to arrange more fixtures maybe there is a case for more communication between 'us' and 'them'


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