On Saturday 12 November in Dublin, approximately 80 young rugby players aged 13-18 gathered to share their thoughts on the modern game and voice their opinions on how it should be shaped in the years ahead.
Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU), in conjunction with the NSPCC, ISPCC and Sport Ireland, held a successful and interesting Youth Consultation Day where players – boys and girls – came from across the country. They hailed from a range of rugby clubs and were representative of teams with various skill levels.
Listening to young players' opinions
The purpose of the session was to consult with Age-Grade Players so we could understand their thoughts, concerns and issues in relation to rugby. By the end of the day, we had gathered information on:
- why they play
- why they think their friends drop out
- what they would like to do more of and less of in their rugby clubs
Discussions about what they'd do if they were in charge of the IRFU for a day were enthusiastic, articulate and engaging. Discussions were also held in relation to bullying, anti-doping and injuries.
Wanting to get involved
Findings are being collated but, in short, these young players voiced their desire to play more rugby, as well as wanting more education of coaches at club level and more medical knowledge at grassroots.
Overwhelmingly, the players shared a desire to be involved in future decision-making, with some participants volunteering to become part of a newly formed Youth Council.
This was the first consultation day that IRFU has hosted for Age-Grade Players. It's a great foundation on which to build further regional sessions before the formation of an IRFU Youth Council for the 2017/18 season.