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...

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

National Cup and leagues: big changes coming (and sooner than you think)

Further details have been released about the future of junior club competitions under the Player Pathway proposals. The document contained no mention about the National Cup, or RFUW's views on junior leagues, but correspondence between several club managers and Twickenham reveal much more information about what is planned - plus the shock news that the changes will start this season!

The National Cup has seemed an untouchable part of the calendar for some time, despite being of little or no interest to most clubs, not least because it has so often featured teams apparently created for the sole purpose of entering the competition (shall we say). It has remained a fixture in the calendar, even when more popular events being discontinued through "lack of interest". But now RFUW say that "there is not enough interest in the Cup Competition", as a result of which big changes are coming... starting this season!

Plans to run a three-weekend cup for 2009/10 have been abandoned. Instead a tournament run on a "One Day Competition Format" will take place - when, where and (come to that) how this will take place has yet to be revealed, but more information is promised soon (one or two fixture secretaries will be anxious to hear more I suspect!).

But this is just a one year stop-gap solution. From next season (2010/2011) RFUW "will be working closely with clubs to develop the competitive opportunities for the Youth game, to include Regional leagues, a Cup and Development Cup competition".

So - everything is up for grabs! Not just the National Cup, but also league rugby and - well - everything else as well, whether it is currently run by RFUW or not. It also confirms the Pathway Proposal's direction away from centralised national events and towards a club game run and managed at divisional and CB level.

This does have a number of plus points (at least in theory). With supportive and active CB and Divisional management, leagues, cups and other events can be better tailored and adapted to support local needs rather than having one-size-fits-all slow-to-adapt programmes run from the centre. The big "if", of course, is that "supportive and active CB" bit. We are pretty lucky in Herts in having had exactly that for some time - but this has certainly not always been the case in every county, while there is currently no divisional management layer at all (we have had "regions" for many years, but officially they have only ever existed to run the regional teams - and will be abolished after this season anyway).

It is all a big jump into the unknown - although in all honesty its difficult to see how anything could be much worse than the current set-up. After all, the current record of regions and counties establishing and running events is actually far better than that of RFUW - compare and contrast the moribund National Cup with locally managed competitions like Herts Sevens, the London & SE [Dorking] Sevens, Gloucester 10s, or the South West and Thames Valley leagues. It could just work...

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