Leeds Rugby Foundation’s (LRF) Indoor Junior Touch Rugby Programme has received some great backing from coaching staff of the New Zealand International side as well as Leeds Rhinos Head Coach, Brian McDermott.
The programme, which is in its fifth year, works in partnership with Hunslet Hawks Community Department and sees Mini’s, U7’s, U8’s, U9’s and U10’s boys and girls from junior Community Club’s from across Leeds come down to Soccer City, Leeds and develop their game from a young age.

The Festivals are ran on small indoor 3G surfaces with quick turnaround games of seven minutes in length. There are no restrictions to side lines with all mistakes being classed as a turnover, allowing U10s and U11s age groups to grubber the ball on the last tackle. This in turn quickens the games making it more enjoyable for the kids involved.

As the Indoor Junior Touch Rugby Programme Festivals progress, there is a clear change that the players are now looking for space, communicating more, making use of their speed, carrying the ball in 2 hands, creating 2 v 1s whilst still having fun. The bigger players also look for offloads and equally look to pass to their smaller, faster players.

And during the recent Rugby League World Cup activity, LRF have had the unique opportunity to speak at first hand to both New Zealand coaches and players at the recent New Zealand Coaching Masterclass about such techniques and they agree it is a fantastic concept that firstly gives kids the confidence to nurture these skills and secondly creates fun competition.

This environment will hopefully pave the way for developing skills to take forward into the full contact format. This concept is not a replacement of contact but rather a stepping stone to enrich our young players, keeping them sharp in our winter climate and tracking the players’ development.

And Leeds Rhinos Head Coach Brian McDermott agrees, he commented: “It is clear to see that developing the skills of the youngsters from the earliest of ages is the way forward. During my coach education programmes I deliver for Leeds Rugby Foundation; I try to promote small sided games to develop the youngsters’ skills in a fun environment.”

LRF Community Club Development Officer, Sam Horner commented: “This concept should be rolled out throughout Rugby League in this country as the development of these players is evident week on week within the Indoor Junior Touch Programme. With the approval of the high calibre coaches such as the New Zealand coaching team and Brian McDermott, it is clearly something we should follow.”

The dates for the next Indoor Junior Rugby League Festivals are as follows:

12th January – U8’s and U9’s 26th January – U10’s
8th February – U8’s and U9’s 22nd February – U10’s
1st March – Mini and U7’s

If you are interested, please email:
LRCABooking@leedsrugbyfoundation.org.

LRF will also be supporting the community coaches through our LRCA Coach Education Programme in 2014 to develop and explore their coaching methods. The workshop will be rolled out to coaches coaching U7s to U11s with resources given out on ideas for this concept of Rugby League. There will also be a debate created on the night and all constructive discussion will be welcome – date to follow soon!

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