New RFU Player Pathway

18th July 2010
by Steve Cullen
The listing was posted by Berkshire County RFU

During 2010, the RFU have developed a new Player Pathway for players aged U13 to U20. The document can be accessed via this link. A Powerpoint presentation on the subject can be accessed by clicking here. And an undated letter from Rob Udwin received 24th June 2010:

Player Development Pathway Update
The identification and development of talent remains a critical element for rugby at all levels of the game. To secure the future success of schools, clubs and representative teams, and to give players clear expectations of their potential opportunity, the RFU has been looking at how we can bring talented players through the system across England, for both the men’s and women’s game.
To that end, a Player Development Pathway Task Group was set up in January 2010 to look into this and on 9th June, it presented its final recommendations to the RFU Council following a comprehensive consultation process with Constituent Bodies, the England Rugby Football Schools Union (ERFSU), clubs and schools. Those recommendations were accepted in full and lay down a clear roadmap for England representative teams at Under 16, Under 18 and Under 20 for the next four years. Below is a brief summary of those key recommendations and when they will be implemented.
The most important of these far-reaching recommendations were to build a true structured season for youth rugby with discrete periods during the season for school, club rugby and representative rugby.
·         From July 1st 2010, two pathways will be established – a High Performance Pathway for the very best players, managed by the Elite Department, and an ‘Aspirational’ Pathway managed by the Community Rugby Department.
·         The ‘Aspirational’ pathway has a four year horizon with the U16s, U18s and U20s now being based on a 1st September qualification date, (starting from July 1st 2010). Its prime aim will be to provide representative opportunities for players who do not wish to become professionals. Whilst it will contain mechanisms for identifying late developing talent, this pathway will not be the main route to identify future England players.
·         There will be no changes to the structured season for 2010/11 or any changes to the current format for the England, Divisional & CB 16s pathway. The U18 Aspirational programme at divisional and national level will be re established in the early part of 2011. To assist effective planning, the 2011/12 Youth Structured Season will be produced by the 1st September 2010.
·         The Structured Season for 2011/12 will ensure that club and school rugby is strengthened at 16 & 18 levels by moving trials, preparation or matches for CB squads to and beyond the October half term. This will allow clubs and schools to develop their teams without the loss of talented players, leading to higher levels of player retention and enjoyment.
·         Details for the 18 Group and England Counties U20s programme for 2010/11 will be produced in July 2010, with few changes taking place until the 2011/12 season.
·         To assist CBs with their planning, for 2010/11 & 2011/12, talent identification programmes for Under 13s Schools of Rugby should not take place until after the Christmas of the U13 year.
The full report may be downloaded from under the “Managing Rugby Section” or by accessing this link:
Rob Udwin
Chairman, Community Game Board & Player Pathway Task Group
So the most significant change that affects the coming season, 2010/11, is that the qualification for U18s reverts to academic year, so players born after 1st September 1992 will be eligible. Berkshire had already selected their U18s squad for 2010/11 in May 2010 on 1st January 1993 and younger basis. Berkshire had also started summer training before we were advised of this change - having previously been told that none of the recommendations would take effect in 2010/11.

The Berkshire U18s Management team has put in place a plan to manage this situation and full details have been communicated to the players affected.

Berkshire RFU welcomes many of changes in the player pathway, but has severe concerns about the fourth bullet point concerning the YSS 2011/12 and the timing of the CB activity and will continue dialogue with the RFU and our other stakeholders (clubs, schools, academies etc.).

The last bullet point concerns U13s and again we are at variance with this plan. We have already identified our U13s Schools of Rugby players and will deliver our published programme as planned from September 2010.

An RFU letter dated 14th June 2010:
As a result of the consultation process that has been taking place nationally on the above report and the final recommendation placed before council on 9th June, a new structure for representative rugby has been formed. There will be a new Community Age-Grade Rugby Working Group replacing the old under 16 and 18 Group Executives. It has been charged to me as a member of this new group to chair the sub group delivery team for the clubs and schools under 18 group which will be mirrored at under 16 group. A copy of the committee infrastructure is attached for your information.

This new sub group has the responsible for the complete implementation of the County programme leading to a divisional festival and the selection process to the New England clubs and schools side which will play an International during the spring of 2011. I fully appreciate the uncertainty that has surrounded this age group over the past season and accordingly will be calling a meeting for the under18 divisional chairman to fully explain this new process.

Whilst I understand we are into the closed season, there is a tremendous amount of work in front of us to enable us to communicate with the counties that make up the respective divisions to ensure that all county programmes are in place for the autumn as per the youth structured season. At this meeting we can begin the planning for the divisional festival and I will be able to explain in more detail the full rationale behind this new format.
It is also our intention to ensure an aspirational pathway is also in place for coaches’ managers and medical personnel for next season. This will dovetail into a process to be implemented by the coaching department at Twickenham and an area for discussion when we meet.

Whilst there is a myriad of changes to what we have been accustomed to in the past, this is the way forward for the next three years. It gives us all an extremely challenging opportunity to build a clear and precise pathway for the community game whilst our elite players continue to progress through the high performance department programme.  

Peter M Vernon
Chairman 18 Group Delivery Team