A resolution to make it a must for schoolboy players to participate in at least half a game each week is an effort to stop half of teenage rugby players from quitting the sport.
All juniors below the age of 15 will have to participate in a 22-player squad play at least half a game each as part of rules introduced by the New Zealand Rugby union this year.
Brent Anderson, the NZRU general manager community rugby and provincial unions last year asked teenage players the changes they wanted in the way the game was played.
Anderson said that one of the big issues they raised was about the lack of playing time. He added that they wanted to bet 5 minutes at the end of the game or chucked with 15 minutes to go.
He said that when people are training for up to three hours a week with two trainings every week, they will have the urge to play. He added that it is the motivation to keep doing when one is not in the sport and they want people to play as much as possible.
Anderson understood that there will be going to be tension when something is changed but people could see the reasons why the policy had been brought forward.
In reference to Anderson, the board room from when the players started at 9 years to when they played in their first year after leaving school, nearly half of the players stopped, which is a big number.
This happened after an 8% drop-off in players in the teenage years in the last five years, from about 44,000 to 41,000.
Flaws in the half-game idea were noted by many, as teams with big squads would have to make enormous changes at half-time.
The good with competitive players might not perform well since they will have to switch with less talented ones and it will be difficult to monitor.
Players had other reasons to leave the game.
Under the new rules, there will be no rolling substitutions throughout the game. According to Anderson, rolling substitutions only give coaches a chance to manipulate players.
He said that when one is having 15 on and takes some off that is a coaching challenge. This cannot be helpful to the lesser players to get up and speed and the coach will then be confident to put them up, he added.
Good players should have to spend some time on the sideline and be good team-mates.
Anderson pointed out that it doesn’t hurt the good players on the sidelines and watch their team-colleagues play and that over the course of a season, the coach will have all the players better.
16,000 teenagers participated in the survey that also found out younger players are in quest for better coaching, driving the union to come up with courses to improve coaches’ skills.
Another demand was a meaningful competition, which can only happen if more players get involved, Anderson said.
Misbehaving during training was also condemned.
Noting that adults often underestimate teenagers, Anderson said that teenagers like fair and even games.
”There have been some people who do not understand it completely, but the feedback we are getting from coaches and teachers is that it is great,” Said Anderson.