The Old Patesians Junior Club exists to encourage children to develop as rugby and team players throughout their time with us with the objective that they maintain their participation in the sport once they become an adult.
Success is measured by the number of children who continue to play in adulthood irrespective of the club or the standard they play at. Playing success and trophies are a by-product of this objective not the objective itself.
We must recognise and respect that children develop at different rates and that success means different things to all children. It is our role to support all children whatever their standard to ensure they enjoy their rugby and reach their potential.
Children develop through participation and enjoyment and this should be encouraged. We aim to provide all players with consistent levels of participation.
There is often a tension with the desire to select the best players to participate in what are deemed to be key games and Old Pats believe that short term perceived success should not be at the expense of on-going participation or motivation of other players.
With this in mind we accept that at the later stages of childrens development (experience suggests that from under 12’s this approach may be appropriate) there is often rationale to create an A or Elite Team which should only be put in place if:
Throughout the season all players receive equal opportunity and game time. Limited squads should only be used where competition rules prevent engagement of the
Suitable fixtures should be arranged throughout the season to ensure that all players get equal opportunity.
There is a clear and well communicated policy by which players can gain promotion to the A team for those fixtures where a limited squad is required by the rules / entry requirements (eg County Cup from under 13’s)
Where squad size allows more than 1 team should be entered into any competition, ideally of mixed ability.
Friendly games should involve all available players with mixed ability teams being rotated throughout the game time
Player welfare remains paramount and we aim to transition new players to the sport into full contact in a staged and measured way. This is likely to mean that a player commencing their life as a rugby player is included in full contact activity (training & games) in a progressive manner with suitable opposition to reduce risk and ensure that the player motivation to continue is not reduced.
We advocate a pragmatic approach to those games where a restricted squad size is stipulated by the competition rules and the 3 A’s selection policy should be considered in order of priority:
1. Attendance – Players who are dedicated and consistently attend training sessions as well as games should again be encouraged and rewarded. Conversely children who regularly miss training but are available for games, irrespective of their skill level, should not be selected ahead of the player who demonstrates genuine commitment.
2. Attitude – Players who show a positive attitude are receptive to coaching and respect their team members should be recognised.
3. Ability – Where there is a choice between 2 players who have equally positive attitudes and regularity of attendance their relative ability can be considered however this should not be the first factor considered
Where players have not been selected due to poor attitude or regularity of attendance they and their parents should be made aware and areas for improvement identified. It is absolutely crucial that this policy is clear, transparent and shared to ensure that all players are encouraged to maintain their development. Likewise areas for playing skill development should be shared with specific suggested improvement and coaching support offered.
Through this developmental ethos we strive to support players to reach their full potential and do this through the time they are with us from under 9’s to colts. New players are always welcome, irrespective of playing ability, and will be accommodated where space exists.
At the Old Pats we are blessed with large squads and it is vital that from the start at under 9’s these squads are divided into smaller sub-teams to ensure rotation of participation in playing & training is more easily managed. This avoids constant need for selection!
There have been many ways that age groups have used to split their large squad into smaller sub-groups with equal ability and distribution of players and a couple of these are shared below for illustration:
Line the players up in date of birth order and then for example where there are to be 4 sub-teams number them 1 to 4 from one end of the line to the other. This ensures equal distribution of the ages.
Put the boys into sub-groups by school attended and then divide them into 4 sub-groups to equally distribute boys from individual schools to encourage making of new friends and breaking down of existing allegiances.
Coaches can then be split equally through the sub-teams and can decide if they wish / don’t wish to support a team which contains their child.
These squads can then be given non-ability related names for example using Colours or Character Names. Coloured bibs can be ordered through the club to enable the sub-groups to participate as different teams in training sessions.
Expectations of Player and Parents
Players & parents are as much a part of the successful development of players during their time at the Old Pats. In order to develop an environment where players are able to develop there are some simple expectations of players & parents alike which are in line with the RFU core values of Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline & Sportsmanship:
- Play selflessly for the club and team on and off the field
- Respect match officials, opposition, team mates, supporters & coaches
- Enjoy being part of a team and Old Pats Rugby Club
- Obey the laws of the game, behave in a polite manner and uphold the values of the game
- Be generous in victory & dignified in defeat
- Pay attention and demonstrate commitment during training sessions & games
- Support your child in upholding the values of the RFU
- Have appropriate expectations of your child’s development and discuss that with the coaches and your child
- Support the coaching team by communicating clearly with them and respecting their decisions
- Ensure the coaches are aware in advance of your child’s availability for training & games.
- Ensure that your child attends training sessions as these will support their development and that of other team members
- Respect match officials, players, supporters and coaches from all clubs
- Support in a dignified, encouraging and non critical manner.
- Focus on & celebrate the things your child does well
Expectations of Coaches
The coaches are all volunteers and are dedicated to the development of all the children in their squad. Having stepped forward when the players were 8 years old they make a commitment to support their development until they move into the Colts section at age 16 / 17
During this time the coaches will;
- Communicate openly with players & parents
- Deliver a structured development process in line with RFU pathways
- Reinforce positive skills, behaviour & attitude
- Provide specific feedback & support to maintain development
- Make development fun
- Openly discuss concerns
- Be prepared & structured
- Have the safety and wellbeing of all players as a priority
- Embody the RFU values of Teamwork, Respect, Discipline, Sportsmanship & Enjoyment