New Zealand Rugby (NZR) wants as many people as possible to be part of our game for as long as they choose to be. In essence, we want New Zealanders to have a lifelong love of the game.
As part of that we need to balance the participation side of rugby with the performance side of rugby to ensure we meet the needs of all our participants (Players, referees, coaches and volunteers).
Rugby, like many sports is experiencing a drop in the number of our participants – particularly from Under 11 onwards.
To retain our young players into adulthood we need to give them more opportunities to play rugby in ways that suit them.
Our Participation Framework provides new opportunities for participants to be involved in rugby outside of the traditional 15-a-side pathway.
We know that while some participants play with a goal of reaching their highest potential, many other play to learn a new game, to have fun with their mates or keep fit. Rugby needs to cater for everyone.
NZ Rugby and Provincial Unions are focused on moving away from trying to make the players fit the game we want to see delivered, to a game (or forms of the game) that players want to play.
To achieve this, rugby needs to deliver more forms of the game. This could be 15-a-side rugby, or it might be 7-a-side, 10-a-side and non-contact formats such as Rippa Rugby or RipRugby. The key is delivering what players and communities value and meeting that need.
The objective of the new framework is to improve the breadth and depth of those participating in rugby. This starts with exposing more kids to rugby through primary school, after school and holiday programmes, introducing them to club and secondary school rugby and ideally building a lifelong love of the game.
Player retention is the priority. Rugby does well in recruiting players into the game from ages 5 – 10, however, this is also where many of our participants begin to leave the game.
The Participation Framework will help increase the opportunities for people to stay connected with the game for longer.