Memorandum submitted by Mr Dudley Taylor
I have been a member of Wakefield RFC (Premiership
Division 2) for 50 years involving playing (1st XV, and `A' Captaincy),
Presidency, Chairmanship and much more. Although a lot of my comments
are based on this experience, my other rugby life has been in
schools, not only as a schoolmaster coach for 25 years, but also
a member of Yorkshire Schools' committee for thirty years. Before
I concentrate on section (d) I do have views on the other three
(a) Players have taken out of the system
more money than has really been available and many are now realising
that semi-professionalism linked with a trade or profession would
have been the better course;
(b) There have always been good relations
with the Rugby League, both professional and amateur in this region;
(c) Wakefield RFC are looking forward to
a possible shared stadium with Wakefield Trinity (Wildcats), at
present being encouraged by Wakefield MDC.
Now I wish to submit my views on the issue under
The influx of players from schools into amateur
Rugby Union (and possibly RL) has slowed down over the past ten
years. This is mainly due to the effects of the teacher strikes
in the 1980s (as a Deputy Head of a large comprehensive school,
I was at the sharp end); the volunteers, extra to the PE staff,
who looked after teams or willingly refereed or travelled were
not, are not, forthcoming, especially in State schools. This has
lead to a reduction of interschool fixtures and intra school (House)
matches. In some schools, where RU/RL and soccer were played,
one of these sports suffered, often the rugby.
But all is not lost, many clubs, like Wakefield
have a youth policy which not only encourages boys to join the
"town" teams, but also makes use of professional staff.
What is needed therefore is the extension of internal youth programmes
within clubs (in our case lack of grounds limits this expansion)
and the use of the few full time players to be very much involved
in schools. They should be able to encourage team play within
the 14 to 16 age group, contrary to what is being planned. These
schemes should be directed by the regional YDO, or in the case
of the Wakefield area by a club YDO who is possibly employed as
a full time player. (Strangely enough the area involving Wakefield,
Pontefract, Featherstone and Castleford, one of the biggest RL/RU
in the county, does not have a YDO).
Funding for coaching, community participation
and facilities, especially grounds should come from the Sportsmatch
scheme and from governing bodies. Do clubs and schools realise
that as little as £500 from a "mild" sponsor will
be doubled? How many club members, investors and sponsors have
put money into the game during the last three years to enable
players to request exaggerated salaries? Surely the time has come
for these well meaning firms and persons to be encouraged to look
at the total scene of rugby. One company in Yorkshire has given
a lead in this direction during the past yeara generous
two year sponsorship deal for the Yorkshire Schools county programme
by Halifax Building Society plc.
My last comments involve the recruitment of
the 16 to 18 age group of players by clubs who have been willing
or are still willing to "contract" by various persuasive
methods. In my days of helping to run 1st XVs (schools or county),
the Rugby League scout would occasionally be seen, but he respected
the system and although no doubt making notes, most boys were
only approached after leaving school and without excessive pressure.
Now the more arrogant RU scout often involves boys early on without
giving time for thought about the future. Surely we can devise
a set of regulations which involves the school (PE/careers staff),
the parents and the boy, before signatures are made whether they
be for direct playing or university/college bursaries.
Ideally a club's academy should involve no payment,
but in return for a promising player making certain obligations,
the club should provide personal equipment, a comprehensive training
programme, quality coaching, medical and physiotherapy support
for training and matches, playing development mentoring, insurance
and association with Premier League players and coaches.
I hope that some of my views will be of value
to the inquiry.