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Your News South Yorkshire rugby making real progress
26
APR

SOUTH Yorkshire rugby union has never been in better heart following arguably the most progressive period the game in the region has ever enjoyed.

For while statistics can always be shaped to tell a range of stories, those which relate to the last five years of rugby development in South Yorkshire do not offer an alternative interpretation to the fact that real progress has been made in attracting more and more young people of both sexes into the game.

In 2006, 57 adult teams teams in the 16-plus age-range - were playing rugby in South Yorkshire. In 2011 that total has risen to 78. In the same five-year period, 85 junior teams have been maintained and the RFU Rugby Development Team will have worked with 47 different schools. The aim for next two seasons is to recruit 10 further adult teams to South Yorkshire Clubs and maintaining the club links to rugby clubs in South Yorkshire through positive relationships with Education networks.

That time and effort was reflected recently when the South Yorkshire Schools Cup Finals day was staged at Dinnington RFC. This season 38 schools took part in all schools competitions and the first SY Schools Cup Finals Day for several seasons was a testament to the support being given by teaching staff and Clubs to the RFU team and the enthusiasm of the youngsters.

There was also an important milestone for the girls in the shape of the first Under 15 Girls Cup final ever staged in South Yorkshire when St Michaels met Willowgarth in the first full fixture at U15 age group.

Twelve different schools contested the five Cup finals, with honours going to Meadowhead School (Year 7), Trinity Academy Thorne (Year 8), Wickersley School, Rotherham (Year 9), Hayfield School, Doncaster (Year 11) and St Michaels at Female U15s.

Key partners in this success story have been the School Sports Network, Club Volunteers, the RFU Community Rugby Coaching team and the South Yorkshire Management Board, which thanks to Adriaan and the SY Management Boards perceptive guidance, has given our work strategic direction, says RFU Rugby Development Officer Jonathan Rickerby.

Another recent barometer of the general progress being made has come via the award of the prestigious Whole Club Seal of Appoval status to Dinnington, a benchmark introduced by the RFU in 2009 to build on the existing Mini & Youth Seal of Approval which underlined the quality provision of youth rugby.

The Whole Club accreditation requires evidence of good practice in areas including club management, player development and recruitment, child protection, sports equity, coaching and refereeing, as well as the recruitment and management of volunteers.

In attaining the standard, Dinnington have established themselves as one of the best-run clubs in the country and one of a select group who have achieved the standard.

Following them down the path to official recognition of their youth structures are Doncaster RFC, who have been Mini & Youth Seal of Approval status. They have one of the biggest junior sections in South Yorkshire and the RFU recognition confirms that they have all the checks and balances in place to be able to offer a first-class, safe environment in which youngsters can be introduced to the game.

While Dinnington are leading the way with their Whole Club SoA attainment, the overall picture in South Yorkshire is very rosy in terms of the calibre of the clubs delivering the game in the community and the standards they embrace.

Stocksbridge, Barnsley, Sheffield, Rotherham Clifton and Mosborough have all achieved the SoA kitemark in addition to Dinnington, and now Doncaster and next season Wortley, Sheffield Tigers, Wath and Rotherham Phoenix are expected to join them, further evidence of the enthusiasm and commitment of rugby volunteers in the area for driving up standards.

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