9:00am Saturday 1st February 2014
By Tim Ashton
Rosslyn Park minis coach Paul Webster has labelled as “bonkers” a new RFU edict aimed at removing the emphasis on winning for child players.
Rugby union’s ruling body wants clubs and schools to switch players between sides at half-time if the score is too one-sided.
It also wants to ban trophies from tournaments for the U11s.
Surrey Rugby has sent out new rules for the up-coming end of season county mini rugby championship, stipulating that coaches must liaise before matches to discuss who their best players are and how they can be redistributed at half-time.
Clubs risk disciplinary action if the rules are ignored.
As a protest, Rosslyn Park – and rivals Esher – are considering withdrawing from the competition.
The RFU says the move is about clubs concentrating on playing skills and the experience of being on the pitch rather than the result itself.
With age groups divided into A, B or C teams dependent on ability, these new rules could see all abilities pitted against each other.
Webster, who coaches the current U10 B Surrey champions at Park, has concerns this will prove dangerous.
He said: “I know winning at all costs should not be encourage, I have no problem with that. But mixed rugby is not the way to encourage good players.”
He added: “It can be dangerous for a start. If you have a good A player running at a weaker C player, then there could be a problem.
“If the issue is about improving inclusion in the sport, then I am not sure the solution fits the problem.
“I don’t know who has made the decision, it just seems bonkers.”
Webster also believes that the RFU’s desire to remove the emphasis on winning is misguided, given the importance of learning to lose.
He said: “The kids hate losing, of course they do, but it is a good lesson for them.
“Losing is not a bad thing.”
He added: “My job as a coach is to make them come back next week, by improving them and providing them with an enjoyable environment and I think we do that.”
Steve Grainger, the RFU’s development director, said: “It is not about denying children competitive rugby. Rugby is a competitive team sport and always will be.
“But we must evolve a player-centred game, which is enjoyable and allows young people to develop.”
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