A nationwide series of 18 Age Grade Rugby workshops in March and April, saw more than 1,100 coaches, teachers, organisers and parents discover more about the changes coming from September for players at Under 18 and younger. These roadshows were an important part of preparing the game for Age Grade Rugby.

“We were delighted with the roadshow turnout,” said Mark Saltmarsh, Head of Education Development. “It shows a real passion in the game to help players enjoy their rugby to the full and the message that change is coming is spreading across the country in our clubs, schools and colleges. As we hoped, there was plenty of challenge, providing a great learning process for everyone, us included. This will help us all get ready for the big kick off in September.”

The roadshow evenings, staged at clubs, schools and colleges from Newcastle to Launceston, aimed to help those attending to understand the changes to the Age Grade game so that they can help their players to be ready for the season. There were three consistent themes raised:

Parents – clubs, schools and colleges want more support to engage their parents with what is coming and why. Tools and information will be ready for the build-up to September. This includes the new Age GradeRugby progression brochure revamped and reprinted in even greater numbers and delivered to clubs, schools and colleges for the new season.
Clubs and Schools – everyone recognised the need for clubs and schools to work together to truly put players at the centre of what we all do. The RFU, together with national and regional organisations, such as England Schools Rugby Union and the Headteacher associations for schools and clubs’ Constituent Bodies, will continue to create stronger relationships to support this. Many CBs already have advanced plans to stage Age Grade roadshows for their clubs, schools and colleges, which will be centrally
Developing Player Programme (DPP) and Representative Rugby – the need to build the pathway for players with potential needs to be more closely aligned to the Age Grade Rugby rollout. Coaches and teachers requested clarity about links between the stages of the player pathway and the calendar when their players will be affected. The current DPP Review will be a key driver for this, as well as further engagement with the Regional Academy
Other themes are also being actioned to help the game prepare for September. These include rules and regulation reviews, playing up and down, streaming, prioritisation, competition templates and tools and coach/referee continuing professional development access.

Mark Saltmarsh added, “In addition to the website updates following the roadshows, our next two pieces of the Age Grade jigsaw are the rollout of the new age group coach CPD courses and confirmation of the rules and regulations for the 2016-17 season. These should be available by the end of May to help everyone digest the formats for next season and to enable them to sign up for the summer course programme alongside clubs and schools in their area.”

The Age Grade Rugby pages at www.englandrugby.com/agegraderugby provide a one-stop-shop for clubs, schools and colleges and are continually updated with information to help prepare for the new season. Follow up to the roadshows is also included for those who attended.