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The New Dawn

by SuperUser Account on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 12:26 PM
Rugby Player Recruitment 

If I was going to be brutally honest I would say New Zealand rugby clubs had it too good for too long. For may years having too many players and not enough coaches were issues our grassroots clubs had to contend with. Until the last decade, New Zealand clubs had no need to enlist the services of a quality agent like Inside Running Recruitment.

When I started playing senior rugby everyclub in our comp could field at least two sides plus U21s and U19s.  Fast forward to 2018 and playing stocks aredecidedly grim, the rugby landscape is so much more competitive now.  There are no longer any age group teams in myprovince. At the time of writing some clubs are struggling to field a solitarysenior side for the opening round of the season.

There are many reasons for the current playerdrain, some like urbanisation and the advent of 24-hour shift work are out ofrugby’s control. However other problems like the organisation and culture ateach club can be readily improved.   

Waiting until December to appoint orreappoint your club’s coaches for the following season, before scouring yourdistrict for players is a sure-fire recipe for disaster. By that time the horsewill have bolted.

Most rural or lower level New Zealand clubsshut up shop at the end of their club season in late July.  This is entirely understandable as manyplayers, coaches and managers feel “rugbyed out” after the demands of anotherfull-on campaign.  Everyone craves abreak from the monotonous rigour of training, playing, hangovers, bumps andbruises.

However, clubs fighting for their survivalcannot afford to go into voluntary hibernation, if you don’t keep watering yourgarden or feeding your stock… they die. Club rugby is no different. 

If you compare grassroots clubs who are thrivingin these testing times, they all share the same characteristics. 

1. These clubs have active social communities and hold events for supporters (of all ages) twelve months of the year. These include Xmas parties, Fishing competitions, Boot camps, Quiz nights, fundraisers and socials.

2. These clubs are actively engaged in their community.  They give back. 

3. Their clubrooms and bar facilities remain open to members and supporters twelve months of the year. 

4. They have an active online presence.

5. They fundraise, often for long term projects like overseas tours. Older players will happily extend their careers for a tour. Tours also provide opportunities for younger players to develop a huge pride and love for their club. 

6. These clubs continue to develop extensive networks with a wide range of employers in their district.

7. They have high expectations in terms behaviour and conduct. If you hope to attract new sponsors and supporters to your club, then your reputation (and actions of your members) needs to be beyond reproach.

8. While the bar is still an important source of income and a great meeting point, alcohol is no longer a positive selling point. Having a comprehensive range of non-alcoholic drinks, decent coffee and delicious meals will bring more people to your club than draught beer.

9. Get on the Fitness train.  The game is about getting bigger, faster and stronger now. Align yourself with a local gym, offer discounted memberships or concession cards. Amalgamate with other sports in your town like tennis, squash or bowls in your town.  Share facilities and work together. 

10. Think long term. Get coaches into your local schools.  Run Rugby Fun Days in the school holidays. 

11. Sell a range of eye catching merchandise. 

12. Have a succession plan for your coaches. Encourage your coaches to constantly upskill themselves.  Provide professional development opportunities. Pay for courses.  Coaches who can deliver fresh content at training will inspire and stimulate your players.   

InsideRunning Recruitment offer a detailed andcustomised club consultancy service.  Ifyou wish to discuss ways in which your club can improve its current position,please do not hesitate to contact us today.

The current rugby landscape is ultra-competitivenow and all clubs need to take decisive action to guarantee their continuedexistence.  There is no silver bullet butsuccess starts with having good people on board.  Positive, selfless members, forward thinkerswho see the big picture and can develop a long-term vision for your club.   Get the right people on board and your clubwill thrive.   

Steve Hale – steve@insiderunning.com   021 111 6682


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