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...

Monday, October 17, 2011

U13s "Transition Rugby": At last the rules and training resource!

I mean, the season has only been going six weeks...

All of the video and notes are available from RFUW on CD, but can also be watched (but annoyingly not downloaded - because the speed of the server is awful!) from here.

A number of significant changes have been made to the rules, as circulated at the end of last season - all of which seem to be improvements on the draft rules and may even indicate that someone has been listening. The major differences are....
  • The minimum recommended coaching qualification is now - thank heaven! - Level 1. The ludicrous - and frankly dangerous - idea that the game could be coached by someone with only a tag qualification has been quietly dropped.
  • All penalties that would normally result in scrums will now result in (uncontested) 3-player scrums (not free passes, as first proposed)
  • When the ball goes into touch the game restarts with a free pass (not a scrum as originally proposed).
As a result the game  now looks like rugby union, instead of rugby league!

Much is made of the rather complex tackle rule - like about half of the rules video! Essentially once a player is "gripped" or grabbed below the shoulder the referee calls "tackle". The tackled player can then drive forward, or pass. If they cannot go forward they have to pass (or "make the ball available"), and if they go to ground then you effectively have a ruck. Rucks are restricted to one player per team (not including the tackled player or the tackler). 

If they do not go to ground then you have a maul, though the rules do not call it that (it is still the "tackle"), and again one extra player can join this from each team - so a maul will be a maximum of two players per side - and the defending side cannot try to steal the ball. As a result big, strong girls are going to love this - forget all this passing stuff. What with all the encouragement to tackle above the waist, all you need is a couple of big, "future props" working together and you should be all but unbeatable!

Other matters to note is that the game is for 6-7 players per side, and is on a half-sized pitch going (according to the video) from the 10m line to the try line. This is clearly an error as there are some obvious safety implications here - with the posts being on one touchline - so I'd run games from the 5m line to the 10m line, as in the old U14 game. 

That is about it - the full rules are here. There are some significant improvements and - taken as a whole - this is far better and safer game than originally implied. Once you get beyond the introductory rules video, there are some really good drills and teaching ideas here - including some emphasis on proper tackling technique and evasive and ball skills. As a means of introducing players to the game it is has real potential.

However, kicking is still banned, which is mad partly because girls coming up from the minis will be kicking, but mainly because kicking is the great weakness of the girls (and women's) game. To ban any kicking at all until U15 rugby (now from school year 9) is plain stupid. Where on earth are the goal kickers of the future to come from? 

But one big problem remains. This is an openly and avowedly introductory game and will be a significant step back for girls moving up from minis.The requirement that girls who already play rugby must also go through this makes no sense at all. Not only do you risk these players being bored, but a couple of good ex-minis in a training group or game - girls who can hit and tackle properly - has the potential to destroy the introduction that it is supposed to be.

Would it not be more sensible to offer two routes into U15 rugby? A direct path into the game for those moving up from the minis, and "Transition Rugby" for those starting to play at secondary school age. That is - after all - what we have had this season. As RFUW have clearly listened already, why can they not listen just a little bit more?

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