SRU CEO: Junior rugby about participation

Samoa Rugby Union chief executive officer Faleomavaega Vincent Fepulea’i has reiterated the country’s focus on participation at the junior levels of the game.

This comes in the wake of the strong message New Zealand Rugby sent to its provincial unions this week, which said there is little value in representative rugby at under-14 level and below.

The North Harbour Rugby Union had earlier decided to scrap its junior representative programme, a move which prompted polarising discussion in New Zealand about whether performance or participation is more important for young sportspeople.

Faleomavaega said a lot of Samoa’s grassroots programmes, such as Get Into Rugby, are about participation and healthy living.

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“We don’t have any junior representative rugby here at that young age.

“We look at identifying players around secondary school level, where we target those who are really seriously into rugby.

“I think it’s really good, I think what New Zealand have decided is a good way forward.”

New Zealand Rugby head of participation and development Steve Lancaster wrote that the national union feel junior representative rugby is potentially unproductive in a letter to the country’s rugby administrators.

North Harbour chose to end their under-14 representative programme, as well as cancel their junior club representative tournament played at the end of the season.

North Harbour Rugby general manager David Gibson said they wanted to maximise engagement and grow participation through quality experiences.

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