Frequently Asked Questions
How can we sign up to the half a game initiative?
Register your clubs interest via your local Junior District Association or WRU Rugby Coordinator
- Dragons - Aled James ARJames@wru.wales and Lewis Roberts LRoberts@wru.wales
- Blues - Christian Hitt CHitt@wru.wales Jake Thomas JakeThomas@wru.wales and Gavin Dacey GDacey@wru.wales
- Ospreys - Liam Scott LScott@wru.wales and Joe Davies JDavies@wru.wales
- Scarlets - Richard Hardy email@example.com Mike King Mking@wru.wales and Justin Lloyd Jlloyd@wru.wales
- RGC - Alun James AllanJ@wru.wales Dai Higgs DHiggs@wru.wales and Rachel Taylor RTaylor@wru.wales
Officially we are looking for all clubs to use sign-up sheet via Junior District Association throughout the summer months. Deadline for submissions will be end of July 2016.
All clubs that sign up for scheme will be rewarded with a half a game poster that they can put up in the club to showcase themselves as a half a game team.
Not all sections of the club must sign up as it is only a recommendation. Clubs may wish to sign up your mini section or mini & junior section. Some clubs have also take this up at Youth or 2ndXV level depending on the buy in to the programme.
Llandaf RFC have proven that using half a game initiative from mini to Youth has helped retain and develop their squad to a really healthy position.
Feel free to contact the half a game clubs below to ask them any questions you want about how they are managing the scheme.
At what age group are clubs adopting the initiative?
We have clubs signed up to the half a game initiative from U7s to Youth Rugby across Wales.
Why are the clubs doing it?
"Try to give equal playing time so that each player can personally develop and enjoy playing the game, as opposed to just being on the training ground." - Tondu RFC mini and juniors
"Retention of wide player base and an opportunity for all players to improve their skills." - Llandaff RFC mini and juniors
"Every player will benefit from playing our game and learning the values that it tries to uphold, and these values are ultimately more important than the game itself." - Welshpool RFC mini and juniors
"We look to give the boys fun, winning is a by-product for us." - Mumbles RFC mini and juniors
"To ensure same game time for all players, to encourage players with lesser ability the opportunity to show what they can do." - Glynneath RFC mini and juniors
Why should other clubs do it?
"To retain interest of all players. To ensure a consistent approach and a 'level playing field' for every player." -South Gower RFC mini and juniors
"It's very short sighted to continually play your best players to attempt to win games at the risk of losing players of 'lesser' ability who give up the game due to minimal game time. By giving everyone maximum game time players with less ability will be given a better opportunity to improve." - Morriston RFC mini and juniors
"Players don't improve by being stood on the side-line, or by not being invited to games. Clubs should do this because everyone should be given the chance to play our sport and develop their skills, not just those who excel at a young age." - North Wales DJA
What can clubs do to ensure there are enough playing opportunities for Half a Game to be effective?
Traditional two team fixtures do not always allow for players to have sufficient time as it can sometimes become more about the end result. Alternatively, festivals can be seen as a great way of giving all players enough playing time. By attending, or even hosting a round-robin festival of 3 or 4 teams, it allows a series of micro fixtures, where everyone has the opportunity to be involved.
"We base our fixture list around the RGC South festivals, which have enabled us to develop our squad to the point of being self-sufficient as an age group, from a starting point of only five players." - Welshpool mini and juniors
"In our District C&V JRA, from U7-16 nearly all our matches are "Friendlies ".This means that there are few must win matches which allows clubs to play everyone. We frequently enter two teams where we have large squads" - Llandaff RFC mini and juniors
"If we play against teams with larger squads we try to agree playing four ten minute intervals which allows all players sufficient game time." - Morriston RFC mini and juniors
How can we manage cup, league, tournaments or festivals?
When arranging a festival, tournament or league, it is important that coaches, players and supporters know what the objective is. A tournament is an organised event whereby there is an overall 'Winner' whereas festivals are a series of fixtures that give all involved maximum playing opportunities. The message often gets lost due to the competitive nature of tournaments. By promoting a win at all costs mentality, it can have an adverse effect on players.
"As we're managing children, fun and development are our key indicators for success; not winning trophies. We have a longer term vision- a larger, more able squad in the junior groups which will eventually benefit the youth and senior teams. However, saying that we do try to identify 'weaker' opposition to play, giving our players of lesser ability their turn for a full game. But, fair game time for all is the priority." - Morriston RFC mini and juniors
"In our District Festivals we let everyone play from U12-16. At younger age groups we frequently enter two teams. We try to rotate the opportunity to participate in tournaments. As a rule we do not normally enter more than three tournaments per age group, per season."- Llandaff RFC mini and juniors
"It would be brilliant if you had a two tier system where the better teams play against each other and the weaker teams play each other" - Barry RFC minis and juniors
How do we manage players that are new to the game or may not want to play half a game?
For any players who are not able to adopt the half a game initiative an individual plan should be made with player, parent and coaches involved. If it's due to injury then a gradual return to play process should take place. If it's a player that is new to rugby or new to a position, then an agreed action plan needs to be put in place outlying additional one to one training and a timeline working towards playing half a game. If a player does not want to play more than half a game, then their wishes should be respected with follow up questions after the event to discuss the reasons.
"We will listen to parent /player advice on how much game time they want, especially returning from injury. We support players for whatever reason they do not feel up to playing half a match." Llandaff RFC minis and juniors
South Gower RFC, Glyneath RFC and Barry RFC mini and juniors will do additional training and give more support for those players. Making sure they gain greater confidence and are safe.
"It is the coaches' role to make them safe. Any new addition to my squad gets extra training to introduce all the basics of tackling, rucking etc. to ensure they are safe." South Gower RFC min and juniors
"More time spent supporting these players with positive coaching techniques." Glyneath RFC mini and juniors
"We look to do more one to one sessions to help that player or group." Barry RFC mini and juniors
How do we manage 50 point rule to ensure game time for everyone?
Clubs should be encouraged to manage the situation so games should not reach the 50 point rule. This could be done with greater communication between opposition coaches before and during the game, allowing similar standard players to play at the same time. Additional formats like festivals or round-robins with shorter periods of time against different opposition/players could also prevent this from happening.
"Rarely get into 50 point situation. With younger teams we have several shorter period games. If we are the dominant side we put on all the weaker players where practical to avoid reaching 50 points." Llandaff RFC mini and juniors
"As a general rule, you know fairly early in a game if it's going to be a 50-point win or loss, and we start making changes early on. Obviously, if you've put out a strong line-up to start the game and you're getting beaten, it's harder to make changes that will weaken the team further, but you still do it. If you're winning, you make the changes in the hopes that it'll draw the game out further, giving the 'weaker' players more game time, and to avoid embarrassing the opposition - we've all been on the end of hammerings, and you always remember the teams who stick in the knife and twist. At the end of the day, if the opposition players get disheartened and stop playing, that's one less team you've got to play against in future." Welshpool RFC mini and juniors
On the occasions that 50 points are achieved even with the interventions taking place, then the current game should be stopped and a new training game could start with the two new competitive teams, even if this means mixing the teams up.
"Where there is clearly a mismatch such as a few weeks ago when we played Mumbles. I agree with the opposition that once we reach 50 that we mix the players from both sides up and have a training match. For me this is a much better option than leaving players go home saddened at being so heavily beaten that the match couldn't even be finished. Opposition coaches and parents have really appreciated this, as all the boys leave the field having enjoyed a great morning's rugby. I have also then been able to give adequate game time to my players."South Gower RFC Minis and juniors
How do we manage players that don't train?
Player attendance to training needs to be monitored. If there is an issue, resolve it by discussing the issue with parents/carers to find the root cause of the problem. Clubs are still encouraged to play all players that turn up for matches and to promote the half a game initiative.
Tenby Swifts encourage players to train regularly,
"If players do not turn up to training regularly, we, either the coach or the manager, will speak to the parents to find out why this is occurring, and to see if we can help in any way. Usually the problem is easily solved." - Tenby Swifts mini and juniors
Haverfordwest RFC promote the initiative giving all players equal opportunity,
"Those who don't turn up for training but turn up for matches still get equal game play" - Haverfordwest RFC mini and juniors
Carmarthen Quins RFC will start with the players that attended training,
"We don't have any players that never turn up for training so come game time we try to make sure that if they were in the previous training session they start the game" - Carmarthen Quins RFC mini and juniors
How are clubs managing large numbers?
The responsibility to ensure that each player is given half a game falls on not one individual but arguably all those who attend games on match days. Mini teams can play in a festival format playing either thirds or quarters or another practical format and can be applied to both sides. It's the clubs responsibility to endorse and promote the half a game initiative.
Tenby Swifts discuss the format of the game with the opposition,
"At games, we converse with the opposition to discuss numbers and whether playing 3 or 4 games would be appropriate, to allow all children to play half a game" - Tenby Swifts Mini and Juniors
Haverfordwest RFC split into 2 teams to allow the players equal opportunity
"Some ages split into two teams for games, to ensure all players get good game play." - Haverfordwest RFC mini and juniors
Carmarthen Quins feel it is vital for the development of players,
"As a coach I feel it is vitally important for every player to feel equal and to be part of the team, regardless of current ability as some players are going to develop slower than others"- Carmarthen Quins RFC mini and juniors
Tenby Swifts would like to see CPD events for club coaches to promote half a game,
"I think Coach Education is vital for the recommendation to succeed. Maybe this can be done through the help of the HUB Officer Program and CPD events held for coaches." - Tenby Swifts mini and juniors
Carmarthen Quins would like to see parents expectations guided and managed,
"The WRU has to lead on this and guide us. The WRU should issue a Charter outlining clearly the policy. This would help manage the expectations of parents." - Carmarthen Quins RFC mini and juniors
Who is responsible for regulating this initiative?
The responsibility to ensure that each player is given half a game falls on not one individual but arguably all those who attend games on a match day. The coach and/or team manager has a responsibility to ensure every player is given the opportunity to play through managing all the players they have available to them on match days and enabling the changes. Parents and supporters also have a responsibility to respectfully question coaches and club officials if players are not being given their half a game opportunity. The club also has a responsibility to advertise, endorse and promote the half a game initiative within their club and mini and junior section. Information can be effectively spread through the clubs coach coordinator, among others.
South Gower and Tondu RFC Mini and juniors both encourage their coaches and team managers to ensure each player has half a game,
"It must be each club who regulates through their coaches" South Gower RFC Mini and juniors.
"The teams are regulated primarily by the coaches, in conjunction with a team manager if that particular age group is fortunate to have a parent that volunteers for the role" Tondu RFC Mini and juniors.
Many of the clubs taking part have conveyed that referees should not be held responsible for regulating the half a game initiative during games and should be allowed to focus on refereeing rather than administrating substitutes.
CRICC and Welshpool RFC mini and juniors both emphasised the need not to put any more responsibilities on referees
(When discussing who regulates the half a game regulation) "Not a referee, we regulate this as a group of coaches" Welshpool RFC Mini and juniors
"Refs have enough on their plate already" CRICC RFC Mini and juniors
When are clubs making changes?
Clubs are encouraged to ensure that all players available play half a game on match day. This can be through changing players at half time or through giving players periods in the game that add up to half a game. Many of the clubs who are running the half a game initiative find that making changes at half time is more manageable for coaches although this is not a strict rule as long as players are being exposed to game time adding up to half a game.
Morriston RFC Mini and juniors are consistent with when they make changes for the half a game initiative,
"Our team always do this at half time as we find it easier to manage and it ensures equal playing time" Morriston RFC Mini and Juniors.
Tondu RFC Mini and juniors say there are other factors that affect when you make changes,
"Half time would be the usual change but of course also when players are fatigued or injured, changes will be made, coaches monitor the time accordingly to make changes." Tondu RFC Mini and juniors
The clubs involved in the half a game initiative have also suggested that managing the starting team carefully before making changes at half time can make a difference to a team's performance and the spirit in which they play the game.
"We rarely start with 100 % first choice players. We balance team strength so that we can make 4-5 changes at half time without dramatic impact on performance." South Gower Mini and juniors
See also - How are you managing 50 point rule to ensure game time for everyone?
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