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Rugby rule change means game time for all

Last updated 07:28 08/03/2014

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Spending 80 minutes shivering on the sidelines will be a thing of the past for young rugby players this winter - now, everybody is guaranteed a game.

New Zealand Rugby has changed the rules for secondary school players to require everyone in teams below first XV level to play at least half a game each week.

Brent Anderson, New Zealand Rugby general manager for community rugby and provincial unions, said the rules meant all reserves had to go on at halftime and stay on unless there were injuries.

"We've talked to 1600 kids and one of the three big factors of what they don't like and [why they] stop playing is no game time."

The rules apply to every grade that does not contain at least one school's first XV.

"We don't want to put this on the first XVs," Anderson said. "It's about that stage they are entering adulthood and things get a little more competitive."

The NZRU expected teams to "self-police" the substitutions and had found that worked well 99 per cent of the time in Canterbury, where the policy was trialled last year.

Canterbury school principals facilitated the trial last year despite some initial opposition.

It soon turned into a resounding success and their positive feedback has sparked other provinces to follow suit.

Wellington College headmaster Roger Moses said his coaches thought it was a good plan but could cause some problems.

"It could actually work against the weaker teams who don't have great skill in their squads. It might widen the gap between the good and the less good."

Porirua College principal Susanne Jungersen said the move would affect coaches' ability to pick the best team.

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- The Press

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