Rugby

NZ school rugby seeks remedies for declining numbers

2019-01-22 10:55
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Rugby ball (File)

Cape Town - New Zealand schoolboy rugby is seeking remedies to prevent a decrease in player numbers.

According to an article on the Stuff website, an independent review from New Zealand Rugby has now been completed and the report provides 31 recommendations that will start being implemented this month. 

The review was sanctioned in June last year after 10 Auckland schools refused to play against St. Kentigern in the country's 1A competition because of the school's questionable recruitment policy. 

Player poaching has been in the headlines in South Africa recently too, with schools in KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape both fingered. 

The New Zealand Rugby report listed a number of people who detailed their experiences of how performance rugby programmes at some schools impacted negatively on their region.

"In general, they view the pooling of talent into a few strong rugby schools as a significant factor in the decrease of numbers playing the game because of flow on effects of, for example uneven competitions," the report said.

The report found the number of boys playing rugby in New Zealand at high-school level is decreasing at an "alarming rate". 

The number of boys' and girls' high-school rugby teams within Auckland Rugby fell from 225 in 2013, to 188 in 2017, and 181 in 2018.

Key recommendations of the report include:

– Establish an advisory group (New Zealand Secondary Schools Rugby Union) to develop vision, values and strategy for secondary school rugby

– Full-time NZ rugby manager of secondary school rugby appointed

– Guidelines for both performance and non-performance grades

– Equitable resourcing of girls’ rugby in co-ed schools and adequate resourcing in schools where girls’ rugby is a ‘new’ sport

– Guidelines for provincial unions and schools on format and form of secondary school rugby grades for both boys and girls

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