NZR sets up secondary school review

New Zealand Rugby is reviewing the running of the sport at secondary school level across the country but it is unlikely to lead to clubs taking over.

The union announced yesterday it would undertake a review to consider sustainable growth and retention of teenage players.

The review and its findings should be completed by the end of this year. One of the members of the review panel is Taieri College principal David Hunter.

The review comes out of the 2017 Respect and Responsibility report commissioned by New Zealand Rugby.

NZR head of participation and development Steve Lancaster said including the rugby community in the review process was an important part of NZR’s commitment to deliver a world-leading secondary school rugby system.

"Retaining teenagers is a challenge for us and there is work to be done by everyone in the rugby community to ensure they are provided with open, inclusive and fun environments and formats of the game that are relevant to them," he said.

Lancaster said a key driver of the review was to ensure that there was a successful model for secondary school rugby throughout New Zealand in which boys and girls could both participate and perform.

New Zealand school rugby union board chairman Garry Chronican, of Dunedin, said he was glad of the review and NZR had shown real leadership on the issue.

He said there were a  lot of different issues right around the country and not one size fitted all.

Clubs and schools were already working together for the good of the game.

He said rugby-playing numbers were relatively static within the Otago region at secondary school level.

The schools’ representative on the review panel was Gerry Davidson, a long-time administrator and coach from St Bede’s College.

The other principal on the review panel is Auckland Grammar’s Tim O’Connor. The other members of the panel are three provincial union representatives, a member from NZR, a member from the NZ secondary schools sports council and an independent member.

The panel will hit the ground running with meetings planned in Dunedin next week. Submissions from the public have also been called for.

The review will look at such issues as finding the balance between having a system which produces top players and equally providing teenagers with participation in the sport.

The review is timely, given the significant growth in women’s and girls rugby.

The review will not question whether secondary schools have the right to deliver teenage rugby. However, it will consider whether other entities such as clubs could have a role in the delivery of teenage rugby.

It will also not look to reshape the make-up and format of provincial and regional competitions although it will generate recommendations on the optimal structure and duration of competition and performance rugby programmes.

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