For the 2018 season, Rugby Victoria has introduced size-for-age bandings in the contact version of the game, to help make rugby safer and more welcoming for kids of all sizes.
This means there will be greater consistency with the way that players will be allocated to teams, not just on age, but also with reference to their size. Size-for-age has been in place in many Unions in New Zealand and elsewhere around the world for some time and we feel it is a positive step for Rugby Australia and Rugby Victoria to take.
What does this mean for my child?
The vast majority of kids will continue to play at their age level. So for example, if your child turns 9 in 2018, he/she will most likely play in the Under 9s this year.
But there are differences in the rate of physical development within age groups and so players that are substantially larger or smaller than average for their age will be assessed in terms of safety – for themselves and for other players – and allocated to a higher or lower weight-for-age group.
It’s important to note that players will not automatically be allocated to a higher or lower playing group just because of their size. Size will be just a trigger for further review and all decisions will be subject to an assessment by Rugby Victoria officers.
Why is this change being made?
The contact version of our game is a physical contest. Mismatches in terms of player size or ability in such a contest detract from the enjoyment of the game, the challenge for players and ultimately participation in the game by young people.
As a result, playing up or down a year level based on relative size and ability has long been part of rugby. But to date, the decision to move a child up or down has been left to local clubs, who have to decide for themselves what size/ability would justify a player moving up/down a level. This can be difficult for club officials to judge at the start of a season before seeing the size/ability of opposition teams.
How will size-for-age bandings work?
To make the process of size-for-age gradings more effective and simpler for all, Rugby Victoria will announce each year size-for-age bandings for all junior players. These bandings will be based on a review of height and weight data collected from across Australia each year with player registrations.
Equipped with that data, Rugby Australia can then make an assessment of reasonable height/weight bandings for each age level. Any player that falls outside of these bandings for their age will need to be assessed by Rugby Victoria to determine the right playing level for them for 2018. These assessments will take into account physical/skill development as well as height and weight.
Consistent with prior years, if a player falls within the size bandings for his/her age, the local Club in consultation with parents, can still choose to play a child up one level given his/her abilities (usually requiring an elite standard of skill/development to play up one year).
If a player’s size/ability changes substantially during a season, they may be reassessed and moved up or down a level as needs be.
What do I need to do?
We’re really only asking for two things:
- When you register your child you’ll be asked to enter their height and weight, please measure your child to the nearest centimetre and kilogram, but don’t worry if you’re unable to be exact as we will be able to assist at our registration day and training nights throughout March.
- Keep the lines of communication open: please let us know any questions or concerns you have.