What is the future of County Representative Rugby?
As of the last week of September 2018 there were still no signs of fixtures and dates forthcoming from RFU competition managers despite several assurances they are on the way. This has been rectified in the first week of October.
Cornwall Rugby Football Union Management Board is most concerned about the management by the RFU towards the Bill Beaumont, Jason Leonard and Gill Burns County Championship seasons for players not in the professional game.
The lack of communication with Counties, that have placed great trust in the RFU, has not been reciprocated to the point where CRFU Management Board, clubs and players are uncertain of the future of the Championship and whether they can commit to the annual planning and organising that is required to remain in the top tier of Senior XV and U20 rugby and aspirations of playing in the top tier of the women’s game.
Locally there is concern that the apparent disregard by the RFU towards the County game is indicative that the traditional County Season is of little or no worth to the RFU and is therefore to be allowed to become redundant and lost to the traditions of our game.
Perhaps it is the RFU’s indifference to the amateur game, that appears to be the case, which is affecting the number of adult players and youth players that remain active within the game and the aspirations of players to play at Twickenham or represent their county is diminishing.
Eddie Jones at a recent Q&A evening at Twickenham was of the opinion that the ‘grassroots’ participation in our country is the best in the world. Clearly the legacy of the present RFU regime may not be able to make that claim in years to come unless the County Representative structure is maintained or boosted to retain the level of participation and interest that has been traditional.
In the week when the future of U15 and U16 County Representative Rugby has been put in doubt, as a very comprehensive document clearly pointed out that Developing Player Program (DPP) rugby is considered a more secure route for the RFU and professional academies to develop players. It appears more apparent that the abandonment of structured county competition and development rugby for amateur players beyond their clubs is inevitable.
To this end it is high time that the RFU presents a coherent response to the counties about future plans for this level of the game. Having been one of the counties considered to be fortunate to keep the three highly appreciated Rugby Development Officers there are signs that we have not been completely cut adrift. But what is their future if we are not to provide an aspirational and development structure for our players?
As the first month of the season draws to a close it is hoped that in October a positive response from RFU competition managers would be most helpful as would a positive response from the RFU about the future of the County game.
The CRFU Management Board has always been committed to the Championships and will continue to do so developing players who have the aspiration and desire to play for their county and proudly wear the black and gold.
Cornwall representative rugby u16 and u15 season
Planning for the present u16 and u15 Cornish players is underway following the success of last season’s Cornwall representative youth rugby.
Fixtures against Devon, Somerset, Bristol and Dorset and Wilts provide opportunities for the best young players in our county to develop their skills and test themselves against the best in the South West.
During January through to March there are County training sessions and team organisation sessions on Friday nights followed by games on Sundays. Players aspiring to play for Cornwall and wear the ‘black and gold’ are invited along to the training sessions. Schools, clubs and Developing Player Program sessions identify players for selection. Last year there were plenty of players identified at county standard so that Cornwall were able to select sixty boys and field three teams at each age group on match days to travel to superb venues to show the strength of Cornish youth rugby.
The CRFU Management Board is committed to the future of youth rugby in Cornwall. Dave Saunter, Chair of Youth Rugby, is often proud of the players achievements. He states, ‘For some boys this is the pinnacle of their young rugby playing development. For other boys this is the launch of their rugby journey as many Cornish players have gone on and are established at Premier, Championship or National League level.’ He further added, ‘whatever level a player achieves the most important factor is that the local players enjoy their game and stay in the game and are proud to represent their county.’
‘Playing for Cornwall is an honour and selection at 15 or 16 years old is a marvellous moment for players, their families and their club and school’, says CRFU Chairman, Denis Preece. ‘It is a tradition that must continue as our young players go on to play for Cornwall u17s and u18s with many going on to play for the u20s and the Senior XV’.
‘Player identification is ongoing’, says Cornwall DPP Manager Richard Siveter. ‘The first training session for u16s is Friday 4th January and for u15s is Friday 1st March. Players, Schools and Clubs who feel they may have been overlooked should contact me as we do not wish to miss any developing young player’.
The outlook for Cornwall and it’s development of young rugby players continues to look good.