Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


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 sections:

    (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; and

    (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 Section (d).

  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 year—a 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.

June 1999

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