NZCT helps junior Manawatu rugby players to play the game safely

NZCT helps junior Manawatu rugby players to play the game safely

The Feilding Saturday Morning Rugby Club has received a $6,000 grant from NZCT towards 12 tackle rings. The new equipment will enable junior players who are new to tackling to learn safe technique.

Rugby is a popular sport in Fielding. The Manawatu town has a proud rugby heritage and has produced a number of notable players, including current All Blacks Aaron Smith and Sam Whitelock and Black Ferns Sevens captain Sarah Hirini. The Feilding Saturday Morning Rugby club is the largest junior club in Manawatu with 388 registered players ranging from five to 13 years old.

With so many juniors at the club, the funding from NZCT is vital to teaching the next generation of potential All Blacks and Black Ferns how to play the game safely. “The grant from NZCT is extremely important,” says club spokesperson Dan Lewis. “With an ever-increasing focus on the long-term impact of head injuries within contact sport, the club feels it is vital to focus on teaching safe tackle technique to those new to the sport and those progressing from the non-contact 'Rippa' form of the game.”

The new tackle rings provide a more realistic game situation than traditional teaching aids.

“A tackle bag is the first piece of equipment used to teach players how to tackle. But they are static by nature and rugby is a fluid game. It is very rare that players get to tackle a static target,” says Dan. “The tackle ring, when stood on its edge, can be rolled and presents a moving target that the players have to then adjust their positioning to make the tackle safely. It is the step between the tackle bag and 'live' tackling, player on player.”

The club was already running a tackle clinic once a week for the Under 8-9 grade. The coaches had improvised with some inner tubes from old tractor tyres and expanding foam until the funding from NZCT came through. Now with the new tackle rings in tow, these clinics have become even more popular.

“The tackle rings were purchased specifically to benefit this age group as it is the first grade of tackle rugby.”

“Without the support of NZCT our club would not have had the funds to purchase the tackle rings,” says Dan. “It is nice to be able to say yes to a request from the coaches rather than no! This grant has made a big difference to our club. NZCT’s support is really appreciated.”