In my humble opinion what went wrong with Trinity for the rest of the season, is more a question of how a Rugby program is viewed and implemented by the powers that be , and the trickle down effect that has for all those involved. My point is without depth no program can flourish, and depth is created by sheer numbers . Until it is treated as an honour to play for the Seconds or the 16c's or the 13d's (as it appears to be at some schools) boys will happily turn out for Yr 7 g Soccer team rather than giving Rugby a go and in this process boys with great potential will be missed. When players are pressured for their spot in a team the train harder , they play harder and the bring a more positive attitude to every aspect of the game regardless of the grade they are playing . Trinity generally does not have this depth and will suffer until the Seconds 10 or 2 or 15 or whatever is pressuring the player above and so on down the grades . The simple solution is ban all other sport, but so far no one is listening to that!
There's a lot of truth in this, although I don't agree entirely. It's certainly true that depth and playing numbers are closely related, and that the larger schools have an inbuilt advantage as a result. It's also true that the availability of other sports will dilute the pool of players available to play Rugby. But it seems to me the only solution to that is to make the Rugby programme as attractive as possible so that boys want to play. A boy who is forced to play Rugby when he'd rather play something else may not be a very valuable contributor in a sport that demands that commitment almost as much as ability.
If you look at the history of Trinity's Rugby (and I recommend the Centernary history, published this year) you'll see that this is not a new issue for Trinity. Trinity has (postwar) always had smaller numbers than Knox, Barker and Waverley. Since 1975, when soccer was introduced at the school, soccer has always been seen as an attractive alternative to Rugby. At the risk of generalising, Trinity's inner-west demographic includes large numbers from migrant families (Greek, Italian, Lebanese) for whom soccer is a culturally familiar choice. And there is the undoubted fact that many parents push their boys towards soccer to avoid the collisions that occur in Rugby. All this limits the pool of players in the Rugby programme.
I have always said (and almost believe) that if you spend six years in the senior school at Trinity, you will see one 1st XV win the premiership (or come very close), a couple of very competitive teams, and a couple of teams that get pounded. That pattern tends to hold true over the years. The challenge for the Rugby staff at Trinity is to make more boys want to be a part of the Rugby programme. Certainly, the rewards that are available to the elite level players - overseas tours, and so on - are very attractive. But what about the guy in the 15Cs?
Well, I guess the ultimate motivation is to convince everyone that, with hard work, they too can join the top tier. That Trinity Rugby history has a couple of interesting stories in it that are relevant to this. One concerns the undefeated 13Es from 1980. Five members of that team went on to play in the 1985 1st XV premiership-winning team. One played for Australian Schools, and he and one other player played First Grade in the Shute Shield. A couple of years earlier, there was a stocky centre running around in the 16Bs in 1976. The next year he played in the forwards in the 1st XV - and a couple of years after leaving school, he played half a dozen games in the front row for the Waratahs. I know this doesn't happen a lot. But if I were at Trinity, I would be weaving these stories into the school's folklore, to try to inspire the guys who get picked in the 13Es or 16Bs that they can still hope to succeed in the game. When I played, my motivation was always to do well for the team but also, on a personal level, to get picked at the next level (or to hold onto my place). Instilling that personal motivation at all levels is important, I think.