A bright future for rugby in Scotland

More boys and girls are playing regular, competitive rugby across Scotland, according to new figures announced by Scottish Rugby in its 2017/18 Annual Report. 

A total of 872 teams competed in the 2017/18 Mitsubishi Motors UK Schools & Youth Conferences, playing 2,626 Conference fixtures – a 16% rise on the previous season and the highest number since the Conference structure was introduced.

Launched in 2015, the Conferences provide a framework for clubs and schools to work together to grow the game and improve the standard of play. Player welfare remains at the core, through an emphasis on long-term player development.

Some 104 clubs, 150 state schools and 25 independent schools took part in the Conferences and Scottish Rugby has part-funded 64 Development Officer partnerships to ensure that young rugby players get the support they need.

Last season, Development Officers delivered more than 24,000 rugby sessions at primary and secondary schools, rugby clubs and at skills camps.

Sheila Begbie, Scottish Rugby’s Director of Rugby Development, said: “The Mitsubishi Motors UK Schools & Youth Conferences are going from strength to strength, encouraging children and young people to enjoy rugby at all levels.

“Young players across Scotland have more opportunities than ever before to experience the health and fitness benefits of the game as well as learning about leadership, respect and values.

“These opportunities to participate are backed up by the quality of coaching on offer, with high numbers of coaches undertaking UKCC qualifications and attending workshops to develop their skills.

“Some of our young rugby players could go on to represent Scotland one day, while others will remain involved in the game in their local communities for years to come. Scottish Rugby is planning for the future and we are committed to growing and improving rugby in Scotland.”

This investment in the next generation is being enhanced by the development of rugby coaches across the board. Some 1,836 coaches attended The Scottish Way Technical Blueprint workshops in 2017/18, a 466% increase on the previous season.

The Technical Blueprint, led by Scottish Rugby’s Training and Education team, aims to develop a quality game by improving the technical and tactical rugby knowledge of players, coaches and match officials from schools and youth rugby right through to the professional game.

Investment in coaching can be seen at all levels, with 792 coaches beginning UKCC 1, 2, 3 or improved level qualifications over the past year and 12 coaches undergoing or completing UKCC level 4.

Four regional coaching conferences and 13 pro-coach masterclasses, which included presentations from Scotland coaches Gregor Townsend and John Dalziel, attracted more than 600 attendees, who will go on to share what they’ve learned with colleagues and players throughout Scotland.

Neil Graham, Scottish Rugby’s Head of Training & Education, said: “The development of quality coaches, match officials and volunteers is central to the growth and improvement of rugby in Scotland. 

“We are committed to offering world-class opportunities and are delighted to see an increase in the number of coaches participating in our training and events.”