Rugby Hubs - A Definition
What is a Rugby Hub?
A Rugby Hub is an organisation, or a collection of collaborating organisations, covering a small geographical area that provides rugby experiences for their community in a planned, progressive, interconnected and sustained fashion.
What goes on in a Rugby Hub?
The Rugby Hub delivers essential rugby development programmes and participation opportunities over the long term that: introduces rugby to boys and girls, men and women and develops their physiological, psychological and social capabilities to enhance the likelihood of participants playing and staying in the game for life.
What will participants experience?
The Rugby Hub is concerned with the delivery of quality experiences that will ensure that participants develop:
- The pleasure of participating
- The courage and skill which the game demands
- The love of a team sport that enriches the lives of all involved
- The lifelong friendships forged through a shared interest in the game.
How are Rugby Hubs Connected to the Get Into Rugby Programme?
Rugby Hubs are the vehicle through which GIR can become embedded into the communities they serve. The GIR phases of TRY PLAY & STAY can only be truly achieved through a sustained and connected approach which supports participants over the long term. (see diagram 1, Rugby Hubs and their link to Get Into Rugby)
Diagram 1 Rugby Hubs and their link to Get Into Rugby
Rugby Hubs - The background theory
Rugby has fully embraced the professional era but has retained the ethos and traditions of the recreational game. In an age in which many traditional sporting qualities are being diluted or even challenged, rugby is rightly proud of its ability to retain high standards of sportsmanship, ethical behaviour and fair play.
World Rugby’s stated vision is to be ‘a global sport for all - true to its values’
With much of the focus currently on the impact of COVID-19 on the sport’s finances we shouldn’t forget the enormous impact that’s been felt by the game’s grassroots. With so little community rugby union – particularly of the contact kind – being played during 2020 & 2021, there’s a risk that a whole generation of players have lost the ‘habit’ of playing. The rationale to focus attention on keeping people in the game as much as attracting them has heightened considerably. Keeping facilities, clubs and opportunities to play available will be a big part of the recovery programme from 2021 onwards. World Rugby’s role here is to support players, coaches, officials and clubs by building the capacity and capability of their unions and regional associations.
In order to do this there is a need to understand what sort of programmes keep people in the game as much as attracting them to the game. A good starting place is the World Rugby Long Term Player Development (LTPD) model. LTPD is a long-term approach to maximising individual potential and involvement in rugby. LTPD models highlight the importance of having coaches working with children and youths, who understand the technical, tactical, physical, mental and lifestyle needs of children and young people as they progress along their rugby journey. LTPD provides a platform for coaches to encourage and support participants at every level of their involvement in the game, to help them fulfil their potential and to remain involved in sport. LTPD is a long-term approach to maximising individual potential and involvement in rugby. LTPD models highlight the importance of having coaches working with children and youths, who understand the technical, tactical, physical, mental and lifestyle needs of children and young people as they progress along their rugby journey. LTPD provides a platform for coaches to encourage and support participants at every level of their involvement in the game, to help them fulfil their potential and to remain involved in sport.
Diagram 2 World Rugby’s LTPD Model Ages & Stages
More recently the research work of Nick Rowe in his 2018 book ‘Sporting Capital, Transforming sports development policy and practice’ describes ‘sporting capital’ as; “the stock of physiological, social and psychological attributes and competencies that support and motivate an individual to participate in sport and to sustain that participation over time” (Rowe, 2015, p45) The central contention of the sporting capital theory is that the higher levels of sporting capital will predict both current and future participation in sport for the Individual. Rowe describes the very nature of sporting behaviour as a synthesis of the physiological, psychological and social realities that shape an individual’s sporting behaviours within the cultural context in which they live. Furthermore Rowe goes on to argue that levels of sporting capital impacts not just on an individuals current probability of playing sport but also on the likely future prospects of sustaining participation into middle and older age.
Diagram 3 ‘Rugby Capital’ adapted from N.Rowe 2018 Sporting Capital
With this in mind the ‘Rugby Hub’ concept and the delivery of GIR should be all about adopting an LTPD approach and developing ‘sporting’ or ‘rugby capital’ in youngsters thus increasing the probabilities of sustained participation in rugby beyond the initial TRY and PLAY programmes.
In short World Rugby needs to promote, through recognised Rugby Hubs, the development of the physiological, psychological and social domains of its sport. This will develop individuals with high levels of ‘rugby capital’ with the competence, confidence, connection, character and caring/compassion (The 5 C’s) needed to STAY in the game and overcome the inevitable barriers to participation that will occur throughout their life span.
The concept of the ‘Rugby Hub’ is nothing new, there are existing examples of ‘Rugby Hubs’ across the globe usually in the form of long established Rugby Clubs, which are connected to Schools and other organisations, who have been successful over time in consistently developing individuals and producing numerous teams at all levels. Typically teams are staffed by excellent coaches, teachers and administrators who deliver the on & off field quality necessary to develop the physical, mental and social aspects needed to develop high levels of, ’rugby capital’, in individuals.
Over time these clubs have created an ethos of development within a set of rugby values and a culture that is passed on from generation to generation. This turns the ‘Rugby Hub’ into a factory for rugby participants staying connected with the game for life.
The reality is that if we want to retain greater numbers of people in our sport, playing, coaching, refereeing, supporting and volunteering we need to create more ‘Rugby Hubs’ across the globe, especially in non traditional rugby environments & new markets.
The focus of Rugby Hubs should be about the Long Term Development of Rugby Capital which will retain participants in our game over the longer term. Where this is done well and participants develop, through design, high levels of rugby capital greater numbers will stay involved in our sport. A by-product of this process will be the development of players who have the ability to progress to the elite levels of the game, but this should not be the focus of the Rugby Hub it will be an inevitable outcome if the process is right.
Diagram 4 The Development of a life long rugby participant
(adapted from N.Rowe 2018 Sporting Capital)
- Balyi, I. & Hamilton, A., 2004. Long Term Athletic Development: Trainability in Childhood and Adolescence. Victoria, British Columbia: National Coaching Institute and Advanced Training and Performance LTD.
- Lloyd, R. S. & Oliver, J. L., 2012. The Youth Physical Development Model: a new approach to long term athletic development. Strength and Conditioning Journal , Volume 34, pp. 37-43.
- Rowe,N.F., 2015. Sporting Capital: A theoretical and empirical analysis of sports participation determinants and its application to sports development policy and practice. International Journal of Sport Policy an Politics, 7(1) pp 43 - 61