Ulster Rugby vs Saracens


“CLUB DEVELOPMENT AND WHAT HAS WORKED FOR US” First and foremost we have built a culture at mini rugby level that playing rugby is fun. It’s not just about the result, but about ensuring that all kids who attend are given equal opportunity, even if it means losing a game.


That way, any new members who sign up, immediately are made to feel welcome, and are more likely to enjoy their experience and stay with the club. They also talk about their experience with their friends and encourage them to come too, as do the parents of the kids with their friends. To make the most of this we have a very open registration policy, basically anyone can join the mini rugby section at any time, and we make it easy for the parents and coaches to achieve this by providing dedicated admin back up to make the process very smooth. The priority of our minis section from a club point of view is to ensure we build a large enough squad to send at least 20 players up every season to next year’s U14s, and we realise that if we focus solely on the better individuals or on results we will not achieve this. This deals with club members, but we know we also have to attract more players into the mini section. To this end we work with every local primary school in the area (13), and host a ‘Primary School Tag Blitz’ every season which attracts over 300 children, many of whom don’t usually play rugby. We use this event as a recruitment tool, again with the message that playing rugby is fun! Results this year so far in terms of registrations have been encouraging, with over 30 kids registered at U12 level, plus 10 girls in the U12 age group now playing as a separate entity. This focus has meant that our youth numbers have also recently

blossomed, with 35 plus at U14s, 35 plus at U16s, 20 plus at U15 Girls, and 20 plus at U18 girls level. Obviously as they get to youth level the focus changes slightly, but we continue to recruit, mainly through word of mouth, but also by working with all the local second level schools (4) and running a local ‘Schools Contact Competition’ aimed at the U13 and U15 groups, those that fall in between the current provincial structure. The level of registrations also allow us to run a ‘2nd XV’ in the Qualifying Leagues. The purpose of this is that those who don’t get regular rugby because of their age, get the opportunity of meaningful competition throughout the season, and are there still the following season when the older lads have moved up an age grade. As a club we invest in the training of our coaches so that all have completed the relevant IRFU course for their age grade, ensuring young people get the best tuition available. We currently have 22 Mini and 19 Youth accredited coaches. Outside of the work on the pitch and in the schools, we also try and ensure that the kids get a good amount of extra curricular activity ranging from Easter Egg Hunts to match trips. We also as a club try and immerse ourselves in local community activities such as local shows and festivals, making sure that the club is seen as an integral part of the

town and the surrounding areas. Conor Walker // Virginia RFC


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