A SUMMARY OF SEASON 2007 - 2008
This season has seen us complete our fourth season and the main modus operandi has seen no change, but a little fine tuning has resulted in improvements and better delivery. The new Schools of Rugby has been a success and plans are already in place for the continuance of this programme, delivered in conjunction with Harlequins RFC.
Through the Rugby Development Officers, this process starts with the various development groups and sees players move though the system and into the monthly sessions under the new skills curriculum, which this year have been held at Charterhouse School. This programme also helps to develop coaches from both clubs and schools and again we work closely with the Coach Development Officer. This year has also seen, through the CDO, a second very successful “Teacher Development Day”, held at Epsom College.
The County Schools Union has played a very important part in the smooth integration of youth rugby across the County and not just in Representative rugby. The two state maintained schools leagues go from strength to strength and this is down to the organizational skills of both Leon Hogan and Damien Brady. The Schools Sevens were again well supported and there are plans to introduce another age tier next season as well as a girl’s school league/cup competition. Again we saw success in both Daily Mail Cup competitions and I am sure it will not be long before we have a School progressing beyond the semi finals. The Senior Sevens held at Richmond FC were a huge success and with the sponsorship of The Daily Mail are now regarded as the premier one day sevens, competition in the Country.
Our success in producing International age grade players continues unabated. Again, we provided players to Under 16, 18 and 20 sides including two who played in the IRB under 20 World Cup Final. But more interestingly is the statistic below, which this season has seen the following number of County players gaining Honours who have come through from mini, youth and school level over the past years.
2 Senior England players
2 England Saxons
3 England Sevens squad members
4 England Under 20’s
4 England Under 18’s
2 England Under 16’s
1 England Ladies under 20
On top of this we saw an ex Epsom College and Surrey player play for Cambridge University as a Fresher and against another ex County player. We also now have players who have come through the youth ranks and are playing regular rugby in the Guinness Premiership all the way down to Surrey 4 which is level 12 on the RFU league ladder. No mean achievement.
Our under 20 side continues to have its ups and downs and if only the organizing Committee at Divisional level would listen to our pleas to play these games during the holidays and not during term time, I feel sure we can again replicate the success of the 2001 side. My thanks to David Judd for his huge amount of enthusiasm in managing this side. Again we saw our under 20’s side lose in the semi final of the National County Sevens for the second season running.
Youth leagues are still growing in size with clubs now entering, in some case, three sides in the various age group leagues. Again every participating club has Derek Mugford to thank for his exceptional patience and time in running these. For all who attended the Youth Presentation evening in May it was plain to see the success of all our youth activities, over 140 recipients receiving awards and over 300 attendees enjoying an evening of celebration.
Mini rugby is as active as ever, our three mini festivals saw over five thousand four hundred participants and my thanks go Camberley, Dorking and Sutton & Epsom for hosting these. This is the level of the game that introduces so many children to rugby and results in the continuity mentioned earlier in seeing so many going on to play at the highest level.
There is far too much to report in detail but the majority of all youth activities can be found in the County handbook or on the web site, which continues to be the proven means of communicating and reporting. The most innovative new concept for next season will see the first ever County Development Conference. This is already at an advanced planning stage and will encompass all aspects of rugby and all stakeholders and many volunteers.
On a more sombre note I must reiterate that again we hear of over zealous encouragement and unnecessary comments towards officials from the touch line. This is some thing the game does not need and is not to be condoned. Each club and school has received directives from Twickenham and should act accordingly to remove this from the game.
My thanks again go to all my committee members for the time they so freely give in expanding the role of Surrey Rugby, without whom my role as chairman would be all the harder. The quantum strides being taken are continually the envy of many other Counties and to this end our job becomes even more important in giving the youth of the County ever opportunity to enjoy participation in the game of rugby at their own chosen level.
Peter M Vernon
Chairman Surrey CBRDP.