Vay Wilson (31)
Good question and from experience I can answer that a lot of factors do change (disregarding which schools have specific rugby programmes). That age group is always unpredictable as a guide to the future. Boys can have size and weight advantages early on but then come back to the pack. That age group also often has a mix of Year 7 with young year 8 boys as well which changes as they get older and the original teams divide as the year 8 boys hit opens earlier. I do think kids dropping out ( usually to play another sport) is huge. You only have to see the change from rugby v soccer team numbers over the years at most schools (along with many more sports on offer) to realise young kids change sports more than before.
Another, issue is Newington has a very small boarding house and limited depth in the older age groups, particularly, the open division. Whereas, the other schools benefit from greater depth, that has matured and developed as Rugby players and resides in their significantly larger boarding houses. Hence, they have larger number of boys to choose from in the open division. With only 6-7 Rugby teams in the opens, we tend not too competitive much below the 2nds or 3rds.
Currently, 13s & 14s are performing above exceptions, but this might have less to do with an infusion of Pacific Islander boys. Rather, an excellent coaching program is paying dividends with blow out results. U/13s had have beaten Waverley 70-5 in one game, Trinity 50-12 in another. While 14s beat Trinity 91-0 and View 89-12 and there only the score I know. Both teams also have Scots twice by convincing amounts.However, these results will narrow over the coming years.
However, these results could represent a demographic change at Newington, with an entry or return of a pro-Rugby students and their parents. But I also suspect soccer's impact has slowed down at Newington and rugby numbers are on the rise and will continue to rise.
Quick Hands can make a personal observation, on this issue better than I can. But I believe there has been a return of Anglo-Saxons boys and now Lebanese Boys from the Inner West are now playing Rugby League as their first sporting choice. On arriving at Newington their move to union is a nature one.
So Newington could be 'bucking the trend' and representing a new direction. Particularly, as boys of Australian-Chinese backgrounds are heading less to the Independent Schools and more to the selective high schools. This is only a personal observation and limited to Newington. So with excellent coaching and maintaining player depth in the age divisions the current 13 and 14s are less likely to fall away as a talented age group.
However, it also works the other way our struggling 15As have made a pleasing improvement in their results. Still have a long way to go but do represent that improvement from the 15s onwards.
So when I enquire about results on Saturdays it is done with a hope that better results await Newington in the coming years.Even this is not as bad as it appears. As only 2017 and 2018 have delivered constantlyreally poor results. Even, 2014 had significant successful results despite 101 loss to Scots. That was an aberration.
Unlike Scots that has undergone a massive upheaval in improved results due to a highly professional effort. Newington's improvement will be more gradual.
Another,school to watch is ,Kinross, they are also developing their game.A 26-27 loss to Augustines and two 70 plus wins against Pius and St.Pats is a warning that a new Schoolboy Rugby power could be on the horizon. If only other schools could be more like Scots, Newington, Kinross and ST.Augustines in raising Rugby standards and Numbers.One can only hope.