Our development as a province has continued well this season. Before Christmas we attended 10+ different youth rugby games featuring 20 different clubs and were very involved indeed in the rugby games, taking pictures, making video interviews and reporting on those games. The athletes were implementing and practicing their skills in the competitive game environment and new players were forming partnerships across the two key areas of defence and attack. Every game was competitive and the coaching was feeding all the young minds with the information required to develop.
Basic skills which absolutely include off load, passing, double and triple loops, and above all else expansive rugby taking play forward and at the same time across the pitch in endless phases until the ball is grounded for the try which the kickers were then converting as the team returned their half assuming their kick off positions.
As the season progressed the inputs of skill, training, nutrition, personal psychology and the pack and group mentality to focus on our game and our skills development continued until the groups had successfully negotiated many games and found their strengths and continued to develop their cohesiveness.
This was totally apparent at U14 (which is actually 13 year olds) and right up to U18. Seeing the U14s focusing their teams on expansive rugby and focusing their territorial gains in attack while performing choke tackles and counter-rucking in defense and then snapping up loose balls when the presented themselves turning defence into attack was absolutely superb.
At U16 level these skills were reaching maturity and the margin for ever was decreasing all the time, while the pace of the game increased and that shape on the park from reorganising the line, and achieving the perfect attack and defensive formations as the teams all understood exactly what was acheivable.
At U18 level the margin for substantial gains in the clubs standing and the personal development of each players focus on skills development and fully gaining all the benefits of their increased physicality allowing clincial and focused set pieces combined with expansive and very very fast counter rucking with the ducking and weaving of players released into space fromn the teams efforts or from individual appreciation of space and attacking that space.
For us undoubtedly the experience of watching the games was fantastic and most importantly the teams, coaches and athletes personal focus and zone in ability really came to the fore in the later stages of the season when league and cup honours were at stake.
Champing at the bit already to start into next season!
Every club and every player is an honour to report on.