Tasman latest union to end rep rugby for juniors

Dylan Cleaver,
Publish Date
Monday, 13 May 2019, 12:16PM
North Harbour canned its junior rugby rep system earlier this year. (Photo / Supplied)
North Harbour canned its junior rugby rep system earlier this year. (Photo / Supplied)

Tasman has become the latest rugby union to end its junior representative programme.

The South Island union, a merger of Marlborough and Nelson Bays, released the news today, after conducting "qualitative and quantitative research among its stakeholders".

They follow the example of North Harbour, who created a stir earlier this year when they announced they were no longer sending teams to the famous Roller Mills tournament.

"It was the position of the TRU board and staff during these discussions that any replacement programme had be 'better than what is currently offered'," the release said.

"A decision by TRU has been reached to replace the current age-grade representative programme with age-grade player development sessions for all participants.

"It will be called Mako Rugby Player Development Sessions for both male and female, these will be hosted at central venues in Nelson and Blenheim allowing all players, coaches and parents, to participate on site together."

The union, led by CEO Tony Lewis, released a business case to supplement their decision.

In the case notes, the union noted that the value of junior rep rugby had been "challenged" and "that negative aspects of a selective representative programme have become more visible and understood".

Said Lewis: "We're pleased to have got to a point where all participants will benefit from our new programmes, not a selected few. The board is excited that we will now be upskilling all age grade male and female rugby participants."

When Harbour made their call, CEO David Gibson acknowledged there had been some negative feedback but he was confident they were making the right call.

The union's stance was backed up by AUT academic Simon Walters, who runs the coaching research team.

"An overriding focus on winning at an early age has a number of costs," he said.

"These include closing the door on late developers and late maturers; kids not developing the all-round skills they will need later if they stay with the sport; greater rates of overuse injuries; burnout and, ultimately, dropout."