Connacht Rugby are delighted to announce a new pilot initiative for the 2020/21 season aimed at increasing retention rates of youth players across the province.
 
Drawing on best practice in youth sports this initiative, known as Connacht le Chéile, is a commitment by coaches to give all players in a matchday squad equal game-time. The pilot is being rolled out at all U13 boys and U14 girls league matches this season as well as an open invitation for any coach, team or club that wish to take part.
 
Speaking about Connacht le Chéile, Spirit of Rugby Officer Luke Murphy said:
 
“In naming this initiative we wanted to draw on the bond between the West of Ireland and the Irish language as well as highlighting that we’re all working together to create the best opportunities for young people to enjoy sport”.
 
The rationale behind Connacht le Chéile is that all young people deserve the opportunity to experience at least half a game of rugby, rather than sitting on the bench until the last couple of minutes of a match.
 
Research conducted by the IRFU and Connacht Rugby has shown that young rugby players regularly rank team-work and enjoyment of the game ahead of the result of a match, and that players who get quality game-time are more likely to be retained in the sport and this initiative aims to increase these occasions.
 
Luke added:
 
“We’re delighted to get this pilot programme up and running and launching during Parents in Sport Week is the perfect time to highlight the positive impact youth coaches, the vast majority of whom are parents themselves, can have on young people’s enjoyment of rugby. It’s a fantastic opportunity for young rugby players to get quality game-time and experience at least half a game of rugby each week and we believe it will be instrumental in increasing retention rates across the province and help foster a life-long love of the game.”
 
“Matchday squads will still be capped at 23 players and this initiative means that everyone involved will get at least 30 minutes of rugby each week, helping to develop their skills, cement the bonds of friendship through teamwork and continue to provide a child-centred environment for our youngest players to enjoy the sport.”

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