Thames Valley Junior rugby has undertaken a significant change to its’ grading structure for the 2016 season by removing a lot of the weight restrictions and now classifying players based purely on age.
“At the end of 2015 there was a get together of key personnel from within the union to discuss where the Unions was at, where did we want to head to and how do we get there. One of the recommendations from these discussions were to go to a straight age grade classification for primary school children and these changes are a result of this recommendation” says Thames Valley Youth Management Board President Mark Peterson
He went on to say “All of the Junior Rugby Clubs within the union were given the opportunity to discuss these changes with their respective communities and as a result – at a Special meeting of the Thames Valley Youth Management Board held at the beginning of March it was voted unanimously to change”.
Rugby Development Officer Bill Cooksley stated “Some players and parents may be put off the idea of smaller sized children playing against bigger kids but from a rugby development perspective players will need to know – and be coached correctly – on how to tackle bigger players safely and effectively as well as skills such as catch / pass, evasion and decision making to avoid a lot of the contact. Rugby Union prides itself on being a game for all shapes and sizes and this change reflects this philosophy. Players want to play with their mates in their own age group which is something that in the past may not have been able to happen due to the difference in weights however now this is possible. This grading system also more closely aligns with NZ Rugby’s Small Blacks Development Model that is prevalent throughout the country”.
Gavin Flint from Hauraki Plains Junior rugby has already witnessed first hand the positive side of this change. “We’ve had 5 or 6 players come back to the game to play with their mates as a result of this shift in thinking. That can only be good for TV as a whole”
Backed by the Thames Valley RFU Board of Management – the new system will undergo a thorough review at the end of 2016 to ensure that there was a positive impact on participation numbers.
Cooksley went on to add “The last thing that we want – as a union – is to see a significant drop in playing numbers at junior level as a result of this change. It’s really up to the rugby community to embrace the change in a positive way and ensure that we at least maintain our current playing numbers in this group”.
One restriction placed on the grading was that any players aged 12 as of 1st January and weighing in at 57.0kg or less – and currently a year 9 student – may apply for a regrade to return to play Thames Valley Junior Rugby and must obtain permission from their respective high school or college Principal to play in 5th Grade.
The New Grades for 2016 are:
TABULATION OF WEIGHTS AND AGES
All correct ages, birth dates and weights must be entered on the registration form as provided by the TVYMB.
ALL AGES ARE AS OF 1st JANUARY.
The grading list shall be as set out below by the TVYMB:
- Under 13’s – Born in 2003 or 2004
- 12 Years and Under – Year 8 student or below Open Weight
- 12 Years and Under – Year 9 student 57.0kg or less
- Under 11’s – Born in 2005 or 2006 , 10 years and Under Open Weight
- Under 9’s – Born in 2007, 8 Years and Under Open Weight, Under 8’s – Born in 2008 or 2009
- 7 years and Under Open Weight , This is the first year of tackle rugby
- Rippa Rugby Born in 2009 or after.