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...

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

RFUW proposes a whole new world for 2010/11

Its has one of the dullest titles ever, but Recommendations from the Competition Review Group on the RFUW Player Pathway For Implementation Season 2010-11 (click here to see a copy) - issued today for consultation - is one of the most revolutionary, and long awaited, reports to come out of Twickenham for many years. Even if you are not on the "Player Pathway" its worth a look because it will affect every single one of you - and in 99% of cases for the better.

Basically it proposes sweeping away the regional structure, not to mention most of the various unco-ordinated, ad-hoc, "seemed like a good idea at the time" initiatives added in recent years.
In its place is a structure that proposes raising the profile of the county rugby, developing a new divisional level for truly elite players - and putting club rugby back at the heart of things.

The language used is... astonishing, particularly for anyone who has tried to champion club rugby against the regional juggernaut in recent years. It is difficult to read without the a smile, or even near hysterical laughter, for it represents a conversion by the RFUW of biblical proportions. Just look at a few quotes from page three...
  • "Any player wishing to play within the Player Pathway structure should be playing club rugby"
  • "Clarity of message from the RFUW and RFU professional staff and the clubs"
  • "Club rugby is the backbone of the game"
  • "A strong club fixture programme supports the success of the [player development] programme"
  • "Ensuring that there is a more consistent club programme throughout the year that is not disrupted by pathway programmes as much as previously seen."
  • "Fewer players will be involved at the higher levels of the pathway so more players will be available for club rugby on a more regular basis."
Yes, its jaw dropping stuff. This is the RFUW talking - and incidentally it is also clear that much of this comes from all the surveys over the past few years - they have had an effect (O ye of little faith!).

But it doesn't stop there - it really doesn't. The aim is that every county (or, to be precise, ever "CB") will have squads and each RFU Division will run a county championship programme. Selectors will work to centralised criteria and be trained!!

The best players from the Divisional CB championships will be selected for the four new Divisional squads, which will replace the current 11 Regions. As a result the number of players lost by clubs in the second half of the season will be dramatically reduced - only 120 girls will play divisional rugby in each age band, instead of over 600 as at present - which should allow the club game to continue little affected instead of being decimated as it currently is (in fact it is only the "superclubs" who are likely to continue to suffer - which is no bad thing!).

In addition there will only be five divisional weekends (and only four for U15s), instead of the eight regional weekends that we have now. Divisions will instead have evening programmes - and on Monday evenings, a day chosen to avoid clashes with club nights! Success at divisional level will lead players on to national "elite" programmes, like the current TDGs and national squads.

However every silver lining must also have a potential cloud and there is one more proposal slipped in at the end which may result in mixed feelings, and which you may wish to comment on. It is a proposal that the women's/girls' seasons should end at the same time as the men's/boys' - so that would mean the National 7s at the start of May instead of the end. This would have a far reaching effect on several popular end-of-season events - like Worthing 10s, Dorking 7s, and Herts 7s - all of which would either have to take place after the nationals - or would have to move forward into April. This may require some concerted lobbying...

So, in summary, to compare and contrast how this will affect your game...

This season there are:
  • 18 club weekends between September and April - plus five more in May leading up to the National 7s at the end of May
  • 6 county weekends
  • 8 regional weekends - when normal club rugby is all but impossible
Next season this will be replaced with:
  • 23 club weekends from September to April (with National 7s at the start of May)
  • 5 county weekends
  • 5 divisional weekends (4 for U15s) - when club rugby should be possible (so that is potentially 28 club weekends)
Responses to the proposals are invited by the RFUW - see this reply form. They should reach RFUW by 25th January.


  1. Anonymous7:53 AM

    I see there is no mention of the national u/15s and u/18s cup. Does this mean it has gone the same way as the national 10s, or am i wrong

  2. Anonymous4:10 PM

    Before the RFUW tinker again with the season calender we should worry about the state of girls rugby and that you will not have to worry about National Cups or end of season 10's or 7's because there will not be the girls teams around to play girls rugby. This year has seen clubs in the East and South struggle with numbers and next season the problem will get worse. At U18 level we will be losing a huge amount of girls to senior rugby at the end of this season and these will not be replaced with the girls coming from U15. This happens every year I hear you say but this coming year this sport has a huge amount if girls who will be making this transition. Count the number you are losing in your club, county or regional side.

    Clubs will struggle to make fixtures happen next season and therefore county rugby will suffer in the junior ranks. a plus is that senior rugby will have infux of players providing the girls carry on with sport. I for one would be interested in the number of girls who played junior rugby last year are playing senior rugby this year.

    However overall the tinkering looks good again for elite players but club players at junior level will suffer through lack of players. I hope the World Cup helps encourage girls to play rugby.

  3. I would say that the most important thing is that everyone uses the feedback form.

    I would say, in response to the second comment, that the key thing here is that the clubs become central. Playing opportunities grow, the big hole in the second half of the season is removed, and the building up of clubs becomes central. The document contains several commitments to building club rugby - including encouraging clustered clubs to be able to stand on their own. Its actually hard to see how this could be improved.

    As for National Cups, etc. I suspect that they could be in trouble as the clear aim is to model the U18 season on the adult model - and there is no National cup for adults. And frankly that is no bad thing as the current competition is an irrelevance to 90% of clubs, or at least would be if it did not encourage player poaching on an at times blatant scale. Too many of the teams that have done well in National Cups have not been exactly genuine, local, home-grown, clubs - rather too many have been "superteams" of county or even regional strength - and its no surprise as the rules make it almost impossible for "ordinary" clubs to enter without seeking help or "borrowing" players from other teams.

    But - as I say - please pass your concerns on to the RFUW.

  4. Anonymous10:13 AM

    Agree that a lot of clubs have had to combine to do well in national club competitions. Personally i think that clubs that are genuine local clubs tend to do well in competitions not just for one season for for many seasons . Superteams tend to be around for 1 or 2 seasons and then disappear.

  5. Anonymous2:16 PM

    Genuine local clubs tend to do well in competitions - Who?

  6. Anonymous12:39 PM

    While it is true that superteams do not last long, there is always another one being created to replace any that disappear. And the damage they do while they are around can be long lasting (ie. the other local clubs they kill off - and the players lost to the game - as a result).

    Its really too easy. Short of a few players for the National Cup or league? Then (if you are a county or regional coach) "encourage" girls to switch allegencies so as to "improve their game". Or even better talk to their parents. Or if you do not want to be so brazen just ask any of your girls who are also in the squad to put pressure on them. Or a combination. Or just enter the county or regional team under an assumed name (admittedly that is now slightly more difficult than it used to be).

    Result - medals, glory, shattered local infrastructure.

  7. Anonymous11:15 AM

    Player pathways, CBs, mmmm.....
    Haven't ever seen a player pathway actually ever route a player to the national teams. There are too many subjective selection situations and their will continue to be so. There will always be situations where selection is based on 'knowledge and reputation' rather than ability - or even in some cases the colour of the players socks.
    CBs equally have little impact with numerous examples of players being 'encouraged' to more team / CB by coaches or as one previous poster mentioned crafty coaches encouraging players to encourage other players (clean hands you see....).
    Superteams at club level are bad enough but superteams at CB level are just too much.

  8. Anonymous11:59 AM

    re player pathways comment above.....
    i can't comment on the men's side, but there are several England U20s this year from east region who have been all the way through the pathway since tdgs first started. Two of them from east region have been on and off the 'elite' radar over the last 6 years as they've moved from sub-U14 through to 'making it' onto the final rung before seeking admission to the Elite 44 in the next 2-3 years.
    Last year there was one U20 I can think of who 'just turned up to trial' and got in, but the pathway system does seem to work.
    Re CBs - so long as the system can deliver on its promises to recruit good coaches and develop them, things have every cahnce of getting better in a way which will be much more sustainable than it has been in the past.


  9. Anonymous1:40 PM

    Therein lies the problem. The player pathway should not have an on the radar off the radar setting. The players should have development plans and if they move between the levels there should be clarity as to why this has happened.

    With regards players who have achieved the status mentioned how many 'needed' to move teams or CBs to achieve this. This is not questioning their ability at all as that is without question. The query relates to the level of support surrounding this pathway.

    Equally recruitment of coaches might help but as mentioned the subjectivity of some will still impact on the overall benefit of any amendments to the pathway.

  10. Anonymous3:19 PM

    re my comment about radar - perhaps I could have picked a clearer word. What I meant was that the two players in question worked their way along the pathway. At some points they dropped down a rung and had to climb back up, but there was (as far as I know) clarity about what was happening all the way along.
    As to team migration - one played for the same team all the way through, the other for more teams than I've had hot dinners. Had her parents lived in a different (less rural)part of the country with more players in more clubs, this would not have been necessary
    To my mind, the long term solution lies in growing the number of players by a factor of..... pick your number. The document which has sparked this conversation is the first (and very good)set of measures which is really addressing the issue. I think its great.

  11. Anonymous10:36 PM

    isnt it amazing we complain when nothing is done by the RFUW and moan that its all down to the clubs etc etc and when a positive document is issued we still complain - If anyone had the foresight to actually try and get our views to the RFWU 3,4 or 5 years ago we wouldnt actually be shocked by the content of this document. As chair of the Devon WAG, Devon Jnr Secretary, CBRDP member this document is not as revolutionary as it sounds. It is giving us back control of the girls game, each club managed by its club and each county fully supported by its CB (dependent on where you live you either get full/some or none support at the moment). It is puting the emphasis back with the clubs to develop their player numbers, develop the playing skills and maintaining those numbers at the club. There are more match days available now to each club for us to do with what we will........ The ball is in our court so I suggest we stop moaning and grab the positives with both hands and run with it.
    Denise Hodge - Devon RFUW

  12. Keith - worcester coach8:09 AM

    It is not about moaning but more about having a point of view of the changes. This is one of the few places where we can have a debate and express our views of the rfuw. Especially since the new web site does not have a forum,infact the ladies/girls section seems to have been an after thought but that is another debate. I have been coaching girls rugby for 8 years and have seen a lot of changes over that time some good some bad. There seems to be more positives than negatives with the proposal,but i will reserve judgement untill i have been to one of the roadshows in january.Until then i hope the debate continues as it is good to listen to other peoples points of views, as we all have a different point of view.

  13. Anonymous10:21 AM

    Being one of the posters who's comments could easily be seen as a moan I would firstly like to say that the document is excellent it says all the right things and does as Denise says gives the clubs the control.
    However, my concern lies and remains in the fact that the intrastructure which supports the players pathway is missing (at least in our CB) and the girls development is paid lip service by our professional colleagues. Their roles and responsibilities seem to change with the wind and therefore their is no focus on development beyond the club.
    This has resulted in players moving to more 'pro-active' CBs in order to develop. This again is understandable from the players / parents point of view by is no different to the super teams mentioned before only at a CB level.
    I truly hope this document provides a platform for change but a suppose with the previous results I remain a tad jaded. Hopefully I'll be proved wrong.
    Have to say the debate and discussion is excellent. The RFU when asked about the return of the forums recently said they would be back in November.............

  14. Anonymous4:44 PM

    Interesting comments about the junior game and the proposals for 2010/11 but the post I think that has the most relevance is the one that mentions the lack of girls playing. Already in some counties a club or cluster is the county side. This will be happening more over the coming seasons and to the bigger more established counties. How solid is the junior game at club level, I would say very fragile and it is not the fault of superteams. You cannot blame girls wanting to go and play 15 a side games rather than training again and again or turning up and only playing a 10 a side game with girls she does not know. Girls want to play and be part of a team and superteams deliver this.

  15. Anonymous6:46 PM

    Personally I am in favour of many of the proposals outlined in the document, the test however will be if the RFUW can put words into actions which is where they so often fail.

    Ever since I first got involved with W&G rugby 5 years ago the comments from many clubs suggesting that the RP decimates their club fixture list between Christmas and the end of the season finally appears to be addressed. It is now down to the clubs to deliver and use these extra weekends to strengthen their squads and aid development.

    As has been pointed out some CB's do not support their W&G representative sections. In Gloucestershire we are fortunate to have the backing of our CB and a budget to match, we are not however fully integrated within their organisation and this is something which needs to be addressed nationwide. Pressure must be put on all CB's by Twickenham to actively engage in the development of W&G sections, integrating them as if they were Senior Men's or boys age group programmes. Many CB's sight the lack of funding from Twickenham for their non support of W&G rugby. It is therefore essential that the reallocation of budgets promised within the document, not only finds its way to individual CB's but that it is also ring fenced for the W&G game.

    I look forward to the 'road show' presentations, it will give us the chance to test some members of the senior management and find out if certain individuals finally understand the necessity of a strong grass roots base.

    Joe Randall - Gloucestershire RFUW


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