The Rules of Play for younger players adopt a building block methodology, aiming to equip both coaches and participants with the necessary skills to progress toward the 15-a-side game. The rules are structured to allow steady progression and development whist challenging players to be the best that they can. They include guidelines covering issues such as how far young players should be expected to travel within each age group, thus ensuring the players remain at the heart of the game.
The new rules are being gradually rolled out for best effect. The focus on a simpler game and the emphasis on building self-esteem and confidence is designed to make sure that each individual young player will develop at their own pace within the age groups. This carefully planned progression pathway will allow each child to gain the confidence and skills, such as rugby drills, they need to get the most out of the 15-a-side game when they are older.
The main principles are to put the individual child’s needs at the heart of the game, to ensure rugby is an accessible sport for all, to increase enjoyment and involvement, and to encourage players to stay in the game.
Changes under development since 2007
The rules and regulations for each stage have been under development since 2007, and they have been carefully reviewed and trialled over the past few years. Exeter University conducted an academic review of the pilots that were carried out in Durham, Hampshire and Warwickshire, which concluded that the new model resulted in players making more contributions in the game when compared with the previous playing structure. Practising skills such as those found at https://www.sportplan.net/drills/Rugby/ will boost both confidence and technical ability in younger players. Moe information about sport and self-belief can be found at http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/health_and_fitness/4272590.stm.
The new guidelines allow far more flexibility than was seen previously, allowing coaches to adapt play according to the abilities and needs of their players. Player involvement should increase, and a higher requirement for decision-making will enhance the understanding of the game. In turn, more touches should help with skill levels, as each player will be more frequently involved in the game. Ultimately, the new rules should ensure that players enjoy their rugby more and will therefore stay in the game in the longer term.