Under 15s Season Review 2019/20
Well what a season it has been!
The Under 15s began well with well over 30 players old and new, and welcomed Frank Kelly, yet another of the top players at the club and another coach extraordinaire to the fold.
The season looked promising with two festivals to start the season and a strong squad of 34 boys registered.
Over the early weeks we had the inevitable ins and outs as the boys adjusted to timetables, schooling and new interests to juggle, but settled to a steady 25 average at each training session with some 30+ regular players.
Across the country Youth Rugby has, and continues to struggle at these upper junior age groups but we continue to buck the trend. It has become more and more difficult to find games, especially with closer clubs.
Understandably it is an age where lads want to pursue their own and new interests, get stretched between homework, schooling and leisure time, and experience massively different maturity rates, mentally and physically affecting their playing development at times. Many more clubs now struggle to put out a full team, several relying on public school tied players. Even at clubs with reasonable squad numbers, there is often a reluctance or lack of availability of parents willing or able to travel any distance to games.
Even with massive commitment from players and parents at our end, being able to travel with over 25 players minimum, this has impacted us hugely this season.
Although we only lost two games all season, truth be told, coupled with unhelpful weather systems, even chasing down replacements for replacement games, we only managed to secure 6 games in the 4 months up to Christmas. All but one of these were away, and 2 were cup games. With the New Year unfortunately came no new fortune, only managing to scrabble together another 3 games before the dreaded virus closed all life as we knew it!
The impact of this was that players got extremely limited playing time at games and some even less due to restrictions on how many we could name in squads for cup games. The strain on coaching staff and players due to this has been enormous and inevitably we started to lose the interest of several players.
We have tried as much as possible to keep in touch with these families and hope that the boys will feel able to come back as and when they fancy it to maintain the social connections and leave the sport open to them if and when they are ready, we have been delighted that some already have done so.
Rugby is an all-inclusive TEAM game. Relationships made now will last lifetimes, just look to the massive structure within Luctonians. There are places within junior rugby to allow boys to pursue their dream and possibly a career within the sport, but they will rely on their team to give them the opportunities. To keep enough numbers at junior levels to allow for regular games we must continue to nurture and show the boys the value of rugby and teamwork, sociability and the sense of ‘family’ at this level. Boys yet to develop physically may even be the stars of the future!
It would be great to have mates on your contact lists who have made it to the top of the game, mates you played with at club level, let’s help them in their efforts to get there; but let’s appreciate the ones who wont, or don’t want to, the team players who make it possible, wouldn’t it be great to have true mates who you trained with at club junior level in your contact lists when things get tough at the top?
Unfortunately, my brief stint as Manager has not exactly gone down in a blaze of glory but, as ever I can say without exception the boys continue to be a delight. I am so grateful for the level of respect, banter and fun and kindness the boys present me with on each occasion. I am enormously impressed by their level of commitment and effort they put in at practices especially having been on the roller coaster of bringing up adolescent boys twice before the one I’m currently riding on.
I am also endlessly proud of the parents who continue to support and encourage their boys, and in their efforts to provide a group they can come to and be part of. We have averaged 23 players at training and finished the season with 32 boys still registered and active; all the more impressive against the current National trend and proof that Luctonians are doing things the right way.
Thank you also to those parents who have continued to help and chivvy me on, and of course to Aiden, Frank and Shane for the time and efforts they give to the cause.
Here’s to everyone managing to stay safe, and onwards and upwards for the future and the importance and appreciation for social venues and experiences for our boys.
Thank you all