New rugby rules will improve kids’ game

JUNIOR rugby will take on a new look this season as team sizes are reduced at under-seven, eight and nine level.

The new “Shaping the Game” proposals will see under-sevens down-sized from seven players to four, while under-eights drop from seven to six and under-nines from nine to seven.

The change comes as Eastern Counties community coaches tour local clubs, where they have been running seminars demonstrating the new approach to coaches and players.

Community coach John Naylor said the new proposals will allow more playing time and less coaching: “The smaller numbers allows everyone on the pitch to touch the ball more often. With bigger teams, the taller, stronger players dominated but smaller teams will allow everyone to be part of the game.”

Other rule changes will see contact-rugby delayed until under-nines level. This, according to Naylor, will allow a better transition from juniors moving through the levels.

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“Coaches used to have just four weeks to teach children going into under-nines how to tackle, how to scrum, line-outs. Now the scrum and the line-out have been moved to under-tens, and under-nines will only learn to tackle,” added Naylor.

“Coaches can focus on ball-handling skills and it will lead to quicker games, more tries and more enjoyment for the children.”

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The changes come into effect in the Eastern Counties, Essex and Hertfordshire from the start of the new season. Sudbury will be holding the first development mini festival in the region on September 30 when clubs will be able to try out the new approach for the first time.

Meanwhile, a series of workshops, aimed at helping rugby clubs to grow, is being held at West Suffolk College, Bury St Edmunds, on September 8.

Simon Winman, head of club development at the RFU, is the main speaker at the Community Rugby conference, organised by Eastern Counties RU.

For more information: John Winders, ECRU chairman of community rugby 01473 824359.

Eastern Counties Women will be holding an open trials at Stowmarket RFC at 1pm on September 30.

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