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Continued decline in Sydney Junior Rugby

Discussion in 'Schoolboy Rugby' started by Quick Hands, Dec 6, 2013.

  1. Quick Hands David Wilson (68)

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    This from the most recent SJRU meeting should be a concern for all rugby followers and have alarm bells ringing loudly.

    • The Committee discussed the diminishing numbers in the older age groups and a suggestion was made that the competition, normally held for 14 rounds could be split so that there is one competition of 7 rounds prior to the June long weekend (State Championships) and then a new competition commenced with new team entries post the June long weekend. This new competition could be either 15 a side or a 7s competition. This may enable Clubs to retain players or attract players who may only wish to commit for a shorter period.
    Clubs need to be aware that numbers in the older age groups are reducing rapidly and we need to think of ways to increase/retain participation.

    Another suggestion made by a Club concerned with diminishing numbers was the possibility of having a “twilight’ competition on Saturday played after Colts or Grade for the older age group(s).
  2. Hugh Jarse Rocky Elsom (76)

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    Good to see that they are trying to do something. For many years it seems that they have been engaging the ostrich philosophy.

    There have been many who have been saying that something needed to be done to address this for some time. Finally some honesty. To address a problem, one first needs to acknowledge that a problem exists. Hard to address anything you are in denial about.

    Is anyone outside SJRU actually listening, or are they still believing the inflated numbers published annually in the ARU reports?

    I still maintain that the older age groups (U16 +) of the current SJRU demographic should be managed by Colts/Districts rather than SJRU.
  3. Tahspark Ted Thorn (20)

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    Agreed totally. Despite the doom and gloom of this thread's title (and accepting that the SJRU is rightly acknowledging the problem) there is scope/hope with the advent of the Junior Gold Cup for the U16s & overs to be linked with Colts/Districts & for the ARU to play a more leading/dominant role.

    This will provide a real & viable alternative to the concentration of perceived talent within certain schools associations.
    thepuma and Newbie like this.
  4. Quick Hands David Wilson (68)

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    At least they have identified and acknowledged that there is a problem, which as you say is the first step.

    All sports experience a drop off in numbers as boys/girls get to about 14-15. The big problem that rugby has is that our numbers have become so small, that this now makes running a traditional season unviable. A sad state of affairs in the biggest rugby city in the country.

    If the ARU believe the participation numbers that they published earlier this year, then I can't see the problem being addressed. I don't think that SJRU has the resources to fix this - their player pool has shrunk to such an extent that they would also be running out of volunteers at junior level (no players = no parents).

    In 2000 I coached an U/17 side in the Northern Zone competition, which consisted of 8 teams - all matches played at 2pm on Saturday afternoons. 13 years later, Saturday competitions beyond 11s are unviable because of private school committments and now it seems that the older age groups have become unviable despite switching to Sunday competitions.

    The only solution as I see it is to expand the base of the pyramid by getting junior rugby played in non-traditional rugby areas. There is a huge swathe of western Sydney without any junior rugby clubs - Penrith JRU have 3 clubs, 2 in semi-rural Blue Mountains and Windsor and another at Rooty Hill.

    The game faces so many issues and this is but one of them.

    I hope that the Junior Gold Cup competition is successful, but the "rapidly dwindling numbers" is SJRU competitions a matter of grave concern for lovers of the game.
    Westie likes this.
  5. rams Stan Wickham (3)

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    The figures that were bandied about at the beginning of the year were that numbers were down 23%, having been involved at the junior level I would believe it. As has been mentioned there are a number of issues but one that annoys me no end is the insular attitude of some clubs, they want to be the strongest club in the district to the detriment of the game. Most clubs are missing teams in one age group or another. Some of these clubs have had a handful of players & one of the other clubs are in the same situation but no-one wants to hand over their kids to the other club, we should all be focusing on getting the kids on the park. I have seen this situation happen only for the kids to leave & play league. I have also seen on rare occasions barbarian sides come together & flourish. Needs to be more communication between all the village clubs.
    Man on the hill likes this.
  6. Quick Hands David Wilson (68)

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    23% is a big drop and I too would believe it to be a reasonably accurate figure.

    Combining players from different village clubs works and from what I know the Manly village clubs do this regularly to keep boys playing. This year for example Harlequins and Roos combined to put a 14s team on the field. The only concern that I have is that if it's needed at 14, then numbers are dropping off earlier than in the past.
  7. Inside Shoulder Nathan Sharpe (72)

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    I dont buy this explanation.
    There have been private schools in the Northern Zone since 1896 (at least).
    Their 1st XVs have just about always played at 3:15pm on Saturday and formerly (but not so much lately) attendance for some of these schools at 1st XV games was compulsory for all students.
    I don't think the commitments have changed.
    There are more options: kids can do fencing, for instance. If they fence they are not going to play rugby for a local club team. The challenges to rugby come not only from our traditional competitors in Loig, AFL and soccer and we need to realise that.
    As a community rugby has wholly failed to adapt to changes in our society and is becoming marginalised in its grass roots at the speed of light.
    News from another thread that the ARU has suggested that there be only one pathway running through JGC - though likely to be opposed by the schools - is absolutely essential to addressing the declining popularity of the game.
    Westie likes this.
  8. Quick Hands David Wilson (68)

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    The point I was making was that until recently, there were enough junior rugby players at club level who weren't at GPS schools to run a viable competition. Certainly in Manly and Warringah areas it was rare to have a boy playing GPS rugby and club rugby as they were both played on Saturdays. It is only the arrival of Sunday club rugby which allowed boys to double up. I was at the Northern Zone meeting where this decision was taken and the stated reason (which was true) was that many clubs could not field teams any more on Saturdays because of school rugby committments.

    What we've seen is the decline in the number of boys playing rugby overall, plus a leakage to the GPS/CAS schools, plus the establishment and expansion of ISA into more schools, further draining the boys from the clubs and as you say boys choosing different sports. The cumulative effect being that numbers are falling below the critical mass for teams to continue and thus below the critical mass for competitions. Combine this with an even more dramatic decline in rugby in CHS schools and it's a big problem.
    Seymour Butz likes this.
  9. Inside Shoulder Nathan Sharpe (72)

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    Are there that many more schools playing rugby than were doing so prior to these comps becoming unviable?
  10. Quick Hands David Wilson (68)

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    St Augustine's for one. In 2000 their teams played village club rugby (only 1 team per age group). Warringah JRU kicked them out in about 2003/2004 and they went into the ISA. According to the website, the ISA only started in 1990 and probably took a few years to really get going. http://www.isa.nsw.edu.au/ISA-history.html

    It's just one of the issues, the collapse of rugby in CHS schools is probably more significant, along with rugby not following the expansion of Sydney for at least the last 40 years. There's just less boys playing these days in traditional rugby areas and this decline has not been offset by growth in players in non-traditional rugby areas.

    My reading of the minute from the SJRU meeting is that we've past crisis point and are almost at the point of no return. How is the game going to cater for boys not attending GPS/CAS/ISA schools? If they can't, rugby will just shrink even further. The Dept of Education don't care, they have no responsibility to promote rugby in their schools. Often the best player at a state school is offered a GPS scholarship and they are usually the driving personality in getting others to play so their departure is more than 1 player. It's also a difficult game to coach and ensure player safety at that level. As long as their students are playing some sport, they don't care. Touch football, soccer and even league are easier for them to run.

    I wish I had the answers.
  11. I like to watch Simon Poidevin (60)

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    I think it was 2003,and they fielded two or three sides a year prior to that.
    The important thing about this,is the Village Clubs analysed their roster and calculated that for every team the School fielded,two would fold as a result.( A club might have 17 registered which is barely enough,but if they were to lose only 4 or 5 players they are no longer viable)
    Since 2003 I believe Rugby numbers have trebled there.
    I understand the Pius program has also improved their numbers substantially,in this timeframe.
    This is by no means a criticism of the Schools,just trying to demonstrate the ongoing hurdles the Sydney comp faces.
    Quick Hands likes this.
  12. Dave Beat Paul McLean (56)

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    @Quick Hands - good thread.
    I wonder how the numbers fair if we split Private and Public Schooling.
    I understand it has reduced in the Public System, have the playing numbers reduced in the Private Schools?
    Would it be possible to field village teams in the Saturday Private comp?
  13. Quick Hands David Wilson (68)

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    My perception on playing numbers in schools is my perception only.

    I suspect that GPS schools such as Riverview, Joeys, Shore, Kings and Scots have more or less the same numbers that they had 15 years ago, maybe a slight decline with the introduction of soccer as a GPS sport 20 or so years ago. Prior to that rugby was pretty much the only option at GPS schools. High, Grammar and Newington have less of an anglo-Australian demographic and rugby has declined in each of those schools in recent times (despite Newington having a strong 1st XV their rugby playing numbers would be less than 30 years ago).

    A school like St Augustines has many more players than they once did. I think that A and B players would probably double up and play club as well, but I suspect that C, D & E players wouldn't and would play at school, but not at club. This may well have drained players from the village clubs.

    In the CHS system, former powerhouses such as Balgowlah, North Sydney and Manly High Schools either don't play or barely play any rugby these days. Maybe an open team in the Waratah Cup or a 7s gala day and that's about it. Village junior club rugby is where players who go to CHS schools play their main game of rugby. If those competitions become unviable in the older age groups, where can these boys play? League, Aussie Rule and Soccer have viable competitions or they could go to a rugby playing private school, but some can't afford that option.

    Not sure if club teams playing in weekend school competitions is possible, at least I've never heard of it occurring.
  14. Inside Shoulder Nathan Sharpe (72)

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    I think I've read on these pages that it happens in the ACT.
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  15. Quick Hands David Wilson (68)

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    I'd be interested to hear if it has been successful and how it works. Not sure if it's the answer, but I would think that all options need to be examined.
  16. Shane Smeltz Fred Wood (13)

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    I think Cromer High has a competitive rugby program and some would play club on Sundays too. But I think more probably play league than club union outside of school in that area.
    St Augustine's snaps up a few good players from Cromer and why not.
  17. Hugh Jarse Rocky Elsom (76)

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    Have they produced their annual Report yet, or had their AGM? No 2013 annual report on their Web site.

    Who is on the Executive for Season 2014?
  18. I like to watch Simon Poidevin (60)

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    I thought that they combined with Bally Boys,Narrabeen & Manly to play as Northern Beaches ?
  19. Shane Smeltz Fred Wood (13)

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    Yes, you're right, they are called the Northern Beaches Secondary College Campus teams.
    I believe they have some good success with league in the CHS and some players are identified through that.
    But some do play club union outside of school, and then both types (club union or club league) are snapped up by St Augustine's and other private schools.
    Some good talent from that area of Sydney.
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  20. Quick Hands David Wilson (68)

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    This tends to confirm my perception that any rugby talent in the CHS system gravitates towards the private system during secondary school. The result being that CHS schools either can't field teams or field very weak teams and that these players no longer play village club rugby in many cases.

    Usually in these CHS schools 2 or 3 talented players encourage their mates who might not play rugby to play and the school can field a team. Once these 2 or 3 go, so does the team.
    thepuma likes this.

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