RWU’s own Cody Kuxmann was named as one of two recipients for USA Rugby’s Shanagher Morrison Scholarship for 2015. He is attending high-level referee coaching sessions at the Maties Rugby Academy in Stellenbosch, South Africa. He will be chronicling his experiences for RWU.
STELLENBOSCH, SOUTH AFRICA -I’ve been in South Africa for just under a month and already have refereed about as many games as I would in a full spring or fall season. Everyday there is something to referee and if there isn’t there is surely something on the TV to watch. South Africa is without a doubt a rugby mad country where everything seems to focus around rugby.
The youth rugby scene here seems to be a perfect example of this culture. Many schools are focused around rugby and just build upon it from year to year. Schools have as many as 10 sides in any age group and they all play at a decent level. So what’s the takeaway for the USA to build upon?
Perhaps the first thing, that the USA could build upon is its u13 structure. In the u13 preseason, in Wisconsin, that age grade plays a lot of one day festivals-they last about 3 hours and happen after school. Within that current structure, it would be easy to bring that into what is done at the high school level. Maybe at a central field(s) for the clubs to play all three games in an evening. If you look at the flag rugby scene in Wisconsin, they already do something similar but they only play one day tournaments but really have no opportunities for friendlies.
Another development point is to develop the age-grade youth game. I have seen u13 teams that would easily rival top high school teams in the Midwest. In this case, shouldn’t the question be should we start earlier? If so, then the next question is, how? Perhaps the best way would be to start a middle school league in your area. Upon speaking with one of the local coaches in Green Bay, he stated that they had been looking at a middle school league for some time and that with middle school, the sports choices were lacking and he was offering to bring in a new sport to the school and many of them were on board. The big hindrance, as in most other cases, comes down to resources in the coaching department.
Which brings me to my final point, that we should be looking to develop coaches. There are not enough coaches in the game. When looking at the setup here, all the teams have a separate coach and they teach them the fundamentals very well. The USA has been trying to make sure that all coaches are developed by requiring teams to have a certified coach, however is that enough? Looking at the current state of the local high school league, it is clear that more coaches who are more developed will do the game much good.
Where do you see the youth game developing?
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