Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Let The Grassroots Grow

Knockon.ie

for regular coverage of the grassroots game throughout the season, you simply must bookmark Knockon.ie.  Click the screengrab to visit

HoR pro logo greenThis is a post where the topic includes both boys’ and mens’ rugby.

“Ha! I knew it! The girls are barely home from Paris and already he’s forgotten about them!  Typical!”  said nobody.  I hope. ;-)

Seriously though on that note, while HarpinOnRugby returns to normal in a couple of weeks as the senior men’s season gets into full swing, we have vowed to change what we consider to be “normal” in that over the coming season we will cover the Irish women’s AIL, Interprovincials and Six Nations to the best of our ability.  Hopefully other sites will follow suit.

But I do have a concern…for although the men’s game commands the majority of the public’s attention, this can not be said for the men playing at AIL level and below. 

As we push to ensure that the women’s game flourishes on the back of the success over the past couple of weeks, let us also add that there are amateur clubs all over the country catering to men, women and children playing the wonderful game. 

Their needs for players, administrators, volunteers and of course funding will not have changed, and we must never forget this fact.

I have harped on for ages here about ways the club game can be restructured to make the game more appealing…

  • Redesign the AIL to ensure at least 2 clubs from each province are always in the top tier
  • Bring back the Top 4 playoffs to decide the champions, ensuring the club game national attention at least once per year
  • Consider the draft system used in Scottish rugby whereby grassroots clubs take turns handpicking professionals to represent them for a season and get involved in promotional events & coaching sessions throughout the season.
  • Improve the exposure of the AIL with a dedicated website.

But these are just ideas, and ones that certainly won’t happen this season if at all.  Plus, they are obviously just aimed at the clubs at the top end of the system; no doubt there are many more which would involve all clubs regardless of level.

For now, if we can all just vow to do more for club rugby this season than we did last, the game will definitely benefit.  JLP

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