Introducing children to rugby: Shaping the game, retaining players and developing talent Gethin Thomas Introducing children to rugby: Shaping the game, retaining players and developing talent Gethin Thomas Research Partner • Rugby Football Union (RFU) • Gary Townsend, Player Development Manager • AIM: To increase involvement of all players during games and the number of children playing rugby. Aims of the presentation • Research Overview - Background & Aims • U7 & U9 Match Analysis - Methods - Results - Discussion • Year 2 & Year 3 Research Overview • Focus – RFU Shaping the Game: 3-year pilot project focusing on the mini rugby game from U7 through to U11 in England. – Its impact on the development and retention of players. • Aims – Evaluate and compare on-pitch performance of the current games played (continuum) with the games played under the proposed new rules (pilot). – Examine the attitudes of key ‘users’. • Mixed Methods: Quantitative and qualitative methods. U9 •Tackle •Scrum •Lineout •Ruck •Maul •9v9 Continuum (AGR) Pilot • Learning environment to allow players of all abilities to develop at their own pace. (zone of proximal development (ZPD) Vygotsky, 1978.) • ‘Scaffolding’: skills and tactical elements introduced at an appropriate stage (Wood et al., 1976). Data Collection Year 1: U7 and U9 • Behavioural Analyses (6 Counties) 3 Pilot: Durham, Hampshire, Warwickshire. 3 Continuum: Cheshire, Devon, Gloucestershire. • Observations: Match Analysis U7 26 pilot matches and 15 continuum matches. U9 33 pilot matches and 21 continuum matches. U7 – Key Rule Changes Pitch Size Number of players “Knock-On” by a player Continuum Pilot 60m x 30m 20m x 12m 7v7 4v4 Offence – opposition ball. No offence – play on. • INSERT U7 CLIP – 45S U7 Results AGR Pilot 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 Tries Runs Passes Tags Numbers in a standardised 10 minutes • Both games are characterised by lots of running, with little passing. • Basic results show little difference between both games. - The pilot had 58% more tries (p < .001). - Continuum (AGR) had 24% more tags (p = .030). • Following Individual players. - Preliminary analysis suggests that involvements are spread out more evenly in the Pilot, where there are fewer players on the pitch. U9 – Key Rule Changes Continuum Pilot 9v9 7v7 Scrums and Lineouts Yes None Rucks and Mauls Yes None Tackling Yes Yes 1 defender only. Grasp allowed. Number of players • INSERT U9 CLIP – 1M 15S Number of Passes every 10 minutes • Many significant differences with the pilot game having: - 85% more tries - Twice as many passes. - Ball in play for 22% longer. • Increased opportunities to develop fundamental movement skills. • More touches of the ball leads to more individual decision making. • Longer ball in play should lead to positive fitness benefits for players (Hill-Haas, 2008; Rampinini et al., 2007). What’s next? • Year 2: U8 and U10 – Match analysis. Team and individual. – Player feedback. – Questionnaires – Interviews of elite coaches • Year 3: U11 – Should allow for a (brief) longitudinal comparison Thank you – any questions? • Research presented here was conducted during an ESRC Studentship under its Capacity Building Clusters Award (RES-187-24-0002) in partnership with the Rugby Football Union. • For more information about this project and the work of the Centre for Sport, Leisure and Tourism research, see • http://www.exeter.ac.uk/slt/ourresearch/rugby/ • Or • http://www.rfu.com/ManagingRugby/ShapingTheGame.aspx • Gethin Thomas, [email protected], 07866 140723.