Southland considering options after review

Southland is mirroring Otago in its approach to any changes to junior rugby.

The North Harbour union announced last weekend it was stopping representative rugby in under-14 grades and below due to the impact the teams are having on participation.

Otago said earlier this week it was considering its options but New Zealand Rugby has indicated it sees little value in junior representative teams, saying talent develops later.

Rugby Southland general manager Brian Hopley said the union was considering any options which grew player numbers.

"We have undertaken an internal review to consider the best structure for player development that also involves as many young players as possible, taking into consideration research and findings of NZR and Sport NZ.

"The future of player development is currently being discussed at NZR level, along with meetings held involving all South Island provincial unions.

"These meetings included discussion about the structure of the South Island junior grade tournaments.

"Rugby Southland's decisions around player development and junior representative rugby will likely align with the fellow South Island provinces, whilst taking into consideration the best interests of our players."

"Any changes from the current format will be communicated to our various stakeholder groups as they develop. We hope to have more clarity and a final decision in the next few weeks.

"The talent identification team believes more work is required to determine [NZR's] clear position on the merit of selection/deselection to representative teams and competitions at the under-15 and under-16 grade.

"That work is ongoing and with a confirmation of NZR's position on all grades below under-17 by the end of this year."

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