Derbyshire based Long Eaton Rugby Club has announced the launch of its innovative player transition scheme for the 2018/19 season, set to tackle to growing issue of youth player drop-out in the sport.
The club, which has just been promoted for the second year running, will implement the retention scheme in response to growing reports of player drop-out between the ages of 15-21 at club level.
The ground-breaking programme will see first team player, Paul Wakefield, become the club’s first Transition Officer, appointed to support each player aged 16-18 with all aspects of their personal development as well as rugby, including education, family and careers.
Scottish Rugby recently found that on average, 43% of 18-year-old players fail to progress to play adult rugby and an over 80% of 16-year-olds are not involved with their club or rugby by the time they reach the age of 20. Possible contributing factors to this drop-off are leaving school, starting work, moving away or full-time university education. Long Eaton aims to address this by working together with teenage players to increase communication about their options and increase involvement of younger age groups within adult sessions to ensure a smoother transition into men’s rugby. The club targets to keep 50% of under 16 players within the club or the sport by the age of 20.
As part of the new initiative, a mentor system has also been implemented by Long Eaton’s management team, to be overseen by Paul. The system will support and encourage young players through their transition period and promote the benefits of the adult teams. Each of the 19 mentors involved is a member of Long Eaton first or second team and positions will be paired together, to also help improve young player’s rugby skills and ability.
Chris Brookes, Chairman and Development Manager at Long Eaton Rugby Club, said the new scheme was a huge step forward for the club.
He said: “Although we enjoy the senior teams winning and playing the best rugby possible, our ultimate goal as a club is to retain players, from young children up to adult level, and watch them develop on both a personal and professional level. If we can play even a small part in a player’s journey, then we can consider that a great achievement.
“Through our mentoring scheme, our men’s team players will be able to create productive and lasting relationships with our players aged 16-18. Whether that’s introducing the fun and social elements of the club, improving their strategic thinking, giving advice on juggling work and rugby or just helping them with their passing skills. We’re pleased that so many of our players have opted to become mentors to put this into practice.
“Life skills gained through rugby, together with our sports core values are essential in nurturing youngsters not only into rugby but the community too. This initiative will enhance this and keep young people in our sport and community.”
Long Eaton will now refer to their 16-18-year-old players as the ‘Transition Squad’ and provide the option of letting the under 16 team train alongside their mentors to encourage further learning and development. The club will also offer an additional training session to this age group per week.
Matt Everard, Director of Rugby at Long Eaton, said: “The implementation of the transition scheme is a brilliant move for our club. We aim to continue the great progress we have made over the past few years and that can only happen when we have fresh, talented and enthusiastic players moving up to our adult squads. We’re excited for the season ahead and look forward to putting the initiative into practice during pre-season training this summer.”
Long Eaton Rugby Club is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The club’s first team have just won their league and will be promoted to the Midlands 2 East (North) league next season.