Yorkshire RFU came up with an unusual – and effective – way to address the problem of coaches and spectators shouting during games.
One of the main reasons for Yorkshire RFU's Silent Sunday initiative was to try and start a discussion amongst the spectators on the touchline about shouting during games, especially the kind that intimidates and confuses children.
Instructions from coaches – ‘Spread out!’, ‘Pass!’, ‘Tackle him!’ – are often bellowed out as if the children don’t know that’s the idea when an opponent makes a break. And to make matters worse, there are often additional and often contradictory yells from parents.
All well-intentioned, no doubt, but in many cases totally misguided, because the players don’t know whose instructions to follow.
With this in mind, in early 2015 Yorkshire RFU decided that the touchlines should be silent during all children’s games held on two consecutive Sundays. Officials from Yorkshire RFU visited a number of clubs and generally got excellent support once it was made clear what the initiative was about.
It was also hoped that Silent Sundays would help to reinforce the RFU’s core values – teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship – amongst children, their parents and coaches.
Effects of the initiative
In the absence of the usual shouted instructions from coaches and parents, the children soon began to coach and encourage each other during the game.
Decision-making responsibility fell on their heads, meaning they needed to be more game-aware and to help their team-mates. This child-centred approach enhanced the rugby experience for the young players.
If you would like to know more about the initiative, please contact the RFU National Safeguarding Team.
For more on this subject, see our guidance on promoting positive parental behaviour on our Parents in sport topic pages.