Tasman latest to end junior rep teams

It took many years to build up junior representative play in the South Island.

Within a couple of months it has all come tumbling down.

Tasman became the latest union to announce it was putting an end to junior representative teams with an announcement yesterday. With that move all the major unions in the South Island have ended junior representative play.

Tasman Rugby Union chief executive Tony Lewis, a former Otago player, said the union would be moving to a more inclusive model which would have development days for all players.

The union has fielded weight-grade and age-grade teams from under-11 to under-16 and has also fielded an under-48kg team.

In its report, the Tasman union said its selective representative programme has been challenged by the participants, the parents and the union's community rugby team.

The transition of an age-grade player to a senior club and representative player was not conclusive yet it was hailed as a major reason behind the representative programme.

Weight grades were said to be causing issues with children's health and wellbeing, leading to all unions pulling out of the grade. Players were struggling to adjust to playing on a full field and representative selection was only making that worse.

Selection processes for the representative teams were questioned while it created a them and us culture among age-grade players.

Tasman now joins the other major unions in the South Island in ending representative teams for players under-14 and below.

The movement to end these teams was started at the end of February by North Harbour which questioning their worth. That move was backed by New Zealand Rugby which said the evidence showed they were of limited value.

It was felt the lowest age-group for junior representative players should be at under-16 level.

Otago and Southland have followed suit and decided not to have representative teams from under-14 and below. Like Tasman, Otago will have development days for all players and coaches this season.

There had been a weight grade South Island tournament for many years but that, too, had ended after decisions over the past couple of months.

Canterbury has been scaling back on its representative teams for some time.

It has now reached a stage that even if a union wanted to field a representative side it would struggle to find any team to play against.

 

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