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Can anyone talk to me about Rugby?

(20 Posts)
ruggermum Tue 16-Jun-09 08:36:54

Because I got no response in Dadsnet sad

Quattrocento Tue 16-Jun-09 08:39:30

What about it ruggermum? Did you want to chat about it generally - in which case I am no use. Or talk about children who play it? In which case DS (9) plays - he is a prop. Makes me a bit nervous tbh

PortAndLemon Tue 16-Jun-09 08:43:21

Well, I like watching it, but no specific knowledge related to your question. How old is your DS? Does he play at school or at a club?

PortAndLemon Tue 16-Jun-09 08:49:24

OK, right, fourteen and a half or so. In November 2007 he was having a county trial; is he playing for the county now? I think generally the club academies identify players from school/club/county squads starting at around your son's age. But you almost certainly know far more about the system than me. What do his coaches say?

ruggermum Tue 16-Jun-09 08:51:26

Ooh the excitement! Replies!! Yippee.

Right: the thing is that DS would like to play professionally and I want to know what is the best route through. He has spent years being frustrated because everyone keeps saying they have to take it slowly because it's a late-development sport but things are starting to rachet up. Does he concentrate his effort on club or school? Will the local Premiership side develop him or will they burn him out? How does he manage people trying to pull him in different directions?

PortAndLemon Tue 16-Jun-09 09:03:49

I think (again, I am speaking from a position of very little knowledge here) that the club academies tend to take things resonably slowly from 14-16 and build up more intensively from 16. Harlequins' description of their programme, for example, is here (or would be if their site weren't down just at the moment, but it may be back up by the time you look). I suppose the alternative is to go to university and try to move into professional rugby from there, but if your DS is already frustrated at 14 he may not feel happy waiting that long.

I have no idea which is "best", though. If it were my DS I might favour the university option, because the number of people who make a full-time living from rugby over a long period is quite low and it would give him some qualifications.

ruggermum Tue 16-Jun-09 09:13:44

Thanks P&L. This is the sort of thing I am talking about:
"However, in accepting a place in the SOR players and parent are agreeing to accept the primacy of the SOR and to refer any conflicts to the Academy manager and to accept any decision that he might make. Members of the SOR are required to play no more than 32 matches a season and to play no more than one match per week. This is the area in which most problems arise and as a guideline it should be noted that Academy policy is that in normal circumstances school games will take priority over club games."

I am worried that the Premiership development will try to take over his life and then just spit him out at a moment's notice.

PortAndLemon Tue 16-Jun-09 09:36:58

That's a risk with any sport at elite level, I think. If you're going to make the grade then it needs to take over your life, to a great extent. Swimmers get up at stupid o'clock to travel to the nearest decent-sized swimming pool (which in this country is often a looooong way away) before school and then again afterwards. Footballers have academy systems similar to those in rugby. Rowers... well, actually rowing's not so bad at school, because it's an even later development sport than rugby, so the lifestyle privations they take on if they want to compete at the highest level are accepted as adults. And probably so forth for other sports. And in all of these cases most of those who put themselves through those years of hard graft, putting the sport first, sacrificing friends and family, won't make it, because there just aren't enough slots.

I remember a passage in Fever Pitch (OK, football, but it's the same general point) where Nick Hornby is talking about some boy he used to come up against at schoolboy football. This boy was head and shoulders above everyone else, appearing virtually another species compared with the others around him, who were no slouches themselves (Hornby goes on about this for a while, but you get the point). He wound up struggling to hold onto a place in a Fourth Division team, because there were others who were even better.

I hope none of my DCs do want to play sport professionally, because it strikes me that for most that's a very difficult road. I hope they enjoy sport; I hope they find a sport they love and can keep playing well into adulthood. But I'd rather not face the dilemma you're facing at the moment.

If you do get approached by an academy, perhaps you could talk to some of the other parents about how the lifestyle works out for their DSs?

ruggermum Tue 16-Jun-09 10:08:35

This is the problem. The odds are very much against him so I feel disinclined to risk all (eg going full time at 16+) but, there again, you have to be in it to win it. If he has all the extra training then it's got to help but it could all go pear-shaped in an instant if he gets an injury. I know that professional sport takes over your life but I don't want an 'all eggs in one basket' strategy.
Do people still get 'spotted' from University rugby these days or is it too late by then?

PortAndLemon Tue 16-Jun-09 10:22:44

They do, I think, although maybe not straight into Premiership sides unless they have just suddenly blossomed into a brilliant player.

Take Nick Easter, for example. He went to Nottingham Trent University, and from there to play for Rosslyn Park for a few months (I think, am hazy on the details), then was signed by Orrell for a couple of years, then was signed by Harlequins from Orrell and had an England cap a couple of years after that. Similarly David Strettle went to Sheffield Hallam, then was signed by Rotherham, then Quins signed him from Rotherham after a couple of years and he had an England cap in less than a year. So there are options.

Not that my knowledge is focused on one team or anything...

ABetaDad Tue 16-Jun-09 10:35:14

ruggermum - I assume you are talking about Rugby Union. Joining a local junior rugby club connected to one of the top senior professional clubs is a good route.

DS1 is just starting out playing rugby age 9 and he is as keen as your son. I encourage him as rugby is a great game and I played it up to schoolboy county level and then at University we played against the top amateur clubs. This was just before the days when Ruby Union became professional though and it was not possible to make a living at it. I gave it up because it did not fit with my other career plans and was probably not quite physically big enough.

It is now possible to have a good life playing rugby but only 1% of players make it an it is a short career. Doing well at school and developing second career options is of course still essential for your DS.

If your DS is a good player and is playing at school you may well find that club and school end up in conflict. You are clearly aware of that and need to keep a close eye on conflicting demands on DS. If he is playing other sports at school his young body has to be protected as does his general health.

Between 14 - 18 I played school rugby 4 times a week, ran 2 cross country runs, swam and had 2 sessions of weight training and overdid it to the point I became exhausted and it affected my scool work. To add club rugby on top would have been impossible.

DS will also need protecting against the insidious infiltration of 'professional scouts' who hang around young players now. They get commission from the clubs and build up young players' hopes. As PortandLemon rightly points out the clubs then chew them up and eventually spit most of them out.

ShowOfHands Tue 16-Jun-09 10:47:50

My SIL plays for England so very, very different really as there's no money at all in it for women.

She went the university route, as did some of her male friends who are also now playing at least semi-professionally and moving towards bigger things.

I know that was the right decision for her and although she has played rugby from the age of being able to walk and adores it like nothing else, she found that she needed something else in the end. University gave her a diversion and other options for a few years time.

Professional/high level sport can be awfully consuming.

CMOTdibbler Tue 16-Jun-09 11:05:52

My cousins are both involved in sport professionally - one plays football, the other cricket (in player development, but plays at high level amateur).

Their lives are dominated by sport, and when the footballing one had a nagging injury and couldn't play for a year it was very tough.

Have you talked to the rugby development officer in your area about what DS could do ? I think these days they are more careful about ensuring that children don't overtrain and pick up weaknesses which will predispose them to injury later.

I rowed at a high level as a junior, and it took over my life - 4 hours a day on the water at the weekends, plus at least 3 sessions in the week of weights/circuits/ergo (winter) and on the water in the summer. My friends who were junior internationals and wanted to be SI, chose universities with a strong programme

ruggermum Tue 16-Jun-09 11:10:20

"I assume you are talking about Rugby Union."

He also plays League so we are thinking that that may be another way in. But Union is his first love.

pagwatch Tue 16-Jun-09 11:25:43

Five of my sons friends are part of the Harlequins development squad and one plays for England under 16's ( played in the last six nations) . They are all 15/16 and were picked up through school rugby and county rugby. County rugby remains a good route through as county games are watched by talent spotters for clubs and country. (His school has a very strong team, which went three years unbeaten from under 12's and also provides a chunk of the county team and does very well in Daily Mail cup etc etc

If you son is not playing for a decent school side he should try and approach a good local club who may have links with professional sides. The professional scouts look at the best teams in the local youth squads.

The trouble is that if you are picked up by a development squad you still need to play for your school/local team as the development squads have trainning but not a huge amount in the way of matches and the pro teams expect you to keep match fit.

( DS1 is playing first team rugby this year so still has his fingers crossed - although he prefers cricket [cocky little bastard emoticon])

Port&Lemon - come on you quiiiinnnnnsss....

pagwatch Tue 16-Jun-09 11:30:31

BTW
the development suads expect the boys to balance their regime and there are many conversations had about which games they play and when. They get nutritional and excercise advice (obviously) but are also told very clearlythat they may well not get an offer - in fact it is more likely that they won't.
One of the older boys has been playing for Quins in the main team and also in the second team but has decided to go to University instead as he is not breaking through quickly enough and does not want to miss his Uni oppertunity.
They are expected to have a clear vision of what their choices are if they do not make it or get injured.

ruggermum Tue 16-Jun-09 11:40:56

Thanks Pag. He has got to the development scheme through his club. The school don't nominate becasue they want the lads to play only for the school (which is the sort of conflict of interest that I am concerned about).

pagwatch Tue 16-Jun-09 11:46:37

Ds1's school don't nominate either but they allow the teams staff/scouts to attend matches and expect all contact to bethrough them and the parents - so they can control it IYSWIM

You should go and talk to the school about that - it is a pretty silly notion.
Ds1's school work on the basis that if the boys are getting extra support, trainning and advice then that will factor into their performances for the school. All they do in return is rest the boys occasionally - which they should be doing with a squad system anyway.

I would go and have a chat - assuming they are approachable and not the usual macho myopic sports department types grin

ruggermum Tue 16-Jun-09 21:47:59

"Academy policy is that in normal circumstances school games will take priority over club games."

Why is this? Why doesn't RFU/Academy want RFU-affiliated Clubs to take priority over school, especially when so many schools do not play rugby.

PortAndLemon Tue 16-Jun-09 23:47:52

If a school doesn't play rugby then there won't be an issue with school rugby games taking priority over club games, though.

I'd imagine that when so many schools don't play rugby the RFU wants to encourage those that do rather than poaching their best players, in the hope that the schools won't be put off nominating players because they are concerned about conflict of interest (so that message has really sunk through to your DS's school, then...)

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