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...

Saturday, April 14, 2012

U13 rugby: Wales tackle their retention problem, and learn from RFUW mistakes

News from Wales where the WRU has proposed changes to their age banding, almost exactly a year after the RFUW introduced the controversial U13 band in England.

Details are a bit thin, but it is clear that the Welsh are taking a different route to England, and with different aims.
  • There appears to be no suggestion about a new, untried, set of rules being introduced
  • The aim of the change is primarily to retain girls currently playing mixed mini/midi rugby - the introduction of new players will be easier, it is hoped, but this is clearly secondary. 
  • The WRU changes will work through a system of "local development centres" in each "population centre" - which will be hosted at a club, based on its facilities and location. Not schools.
As such the scheme is in marked contrast to that of the RFUW - indeed it might even be suggested that the Welsh have been watching from over the border and learning a few very important lessons.

It is fascinating that the aim is retention, for example. As pointed out on here repeatedly a glance at the England team will show you that almost every player in that team started playing with the minis - very few girls who starting playing in their teens (never mind university) now go on to play the game at the highest level. Wales have recognised that we should be treating mini-rugby girls like precious jewels, making sure they are not lost, and as a result have come up with a plan that is the complete reverse of RFUW's policy which is entirely focused on finding new players and (especially if last season's dispensations are removed) pays no heed at all to retention whatsoever - indeed makes the problem worse.

Even more impressive is the "local development centre" concept, which - if it can overcome inter-club rivalries - will be a huge boost. Details of all the Centres are listed on the WRU site, where many have the support of international players (my only observation is that all seem to be in South Wales). If you can bring all of an area's mini/midi girls - with several years of rugby experience already behind them - together at the age of 11 or 12, what an amazing team you will have by U15 or U18. And also what a positive atmosphere for new girls to join.

So best wishes to Wales - I think we will all be watching how your system develops with great interest.

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