New Zealand Rugby announces changes to domestic club and school rugby
New Zealand Rugby (NZR) is future-proofing the sport with several changes to school and club rugby, the first phase to roll out for the 2020 season.
The changes will ensure more matches kick off, introduce new ways to play and improve the quality of experience for players.
NZR Head of Participation and Development Steve Lancaster said the key motivator for change is to put participants at the centre of the sport.
“Rugby has been our national sport for over 125 years, our player numbers remain strong and as a country we continue to produce world-class rugby teams and athletes,” Lancaster said.
“But our players, coaches and referees are increasingly telling us they want rugby to meet their needs, not the other way around. We’re committed to improving the experience for everyone involved.
“Our developments will help us future-proof rugby and remain relevant for the next 125 years.”
In 2020 a new club rugby and secondary school initiative known as ‘Game On’ will be introduced, as well as a focus on non-contact RipRugby and 10-a-side rugby, which will be implemented for Under 11s.
Game On is designed to reduce the number of default matches due to lack of flexibility for player numbers. Provincial Unions will be implementing Game On into nominated grades.
The new initiative will introduce rolling substitutions to matches and allows teams to modify team size, game length and scrum contests.
Lancaster said Game On ensures more matches can be played.
“People love playing, but they have busy lives and it can be hard to commit to turning up every Saturday for 16 weeks.
“There are so many more options competing for their time so we need to make sure rugby remains attractive and accessible in the context of people’s busy, modern lives.”
Under 11 grade Small Blacks rugby will change from 15-a-side on a full-field, to 10-a-side on a half field.
Lancaster said the shifts at the Small Blacks level reflect best-practice for the development of young rugby players.
“Small Blacks want to learn how to be better, play with their mates and have fun. That’s what sport is about at that age.
“We know small-sided games allow kids to have more touches of the ball giving them the best opportunity to improve.”
Non-contact RipRugby, formerly QuickRip, will be offered to older age groups and introduced as a format at rugby clubs and schools.
Lancaster said teenagers and adults were asking for more new ways to play rugby.
“Non-contact and shortened versions like sevens are growing in popularity, especially with teenagers. Provincial Unions are seeing real success already with RipRugby which enables kids to enjoy the game without the usual committment, nor risk of injury. Kids are loving it and staying in the sport.”
Provincial Unions are set to introduce the new developments into school and club rugby from 1 January 2020.
Small Blacks Development Model
The Small Blacks Development Model has been designed for the 88,000 New Zealand kids who play rugby from Under 5s to Under 13s. The model gives young rugby players the best possible skill-set to take them through their rugby life.
The model helps create consistency across playing, coaching and player welfare at all levels throughout the country, and is a great way of getting kids involved in a team sport.
To find out more about the 2020 Small Blacks Changes click here.
RipRugby is a fast, exciting and non-contact format of rugby for all abilities. RipRugby can be played as 7-a-side and 10-a-side format and includes ‘rips’, in-play kicking, uncontested scrums and lineouts.
For more on RipRugby click here
Game On in 2020
New Zealand Rugby is committed to ensuring positive experiences for all participants. If teams don’t have a starting 15 and/or replacement front-rowers then Game On gives them a range of flexible match options to make sure the rugby still kicks off. Agreement must be reached between teams and match officials prior to the match starting.
Game On will be introduced to all Provincial Unions in 2020 and both Senior Club rugby and Secondary school rugby will use Game On. Provincial Unions may select some school and/or club grades that Game On does not apply to. For example, ‘Premier’ club rugby grades.
To find out more about Game On click here.