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England
RFU's 'no winners' policy criticised
ESPN Staff
January 27, 2014
There are fears the new policy could have a detrimental effect on young players © Getty Images
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The Rugby Football Union's (RFU) policy of removing the possibility of winning from children's 'mini rugby' games has drawn criticism from prominent rugby clubs in Surrey, where it is first being introduced.

The RFU's new rules not only state that games of 'mini rugby', a format of the game in the six to 11 age group, must have no winner, but that teams must be of 'mixed ability', and can be weakened mid-game if one side is ahead in the scoreline too heavily. Prominent rugby clubs Esher and Rosslyn Park have already announced their withdrawal from the Surrey Tournament - where the rules will be debuted.

Teams who fail to follow the new guidelines will see their club's age-group sides thrown out of the tournament and face further disciplinary action. The round-robin system, which is split into 'A', 'B' or 'C' development medals to pit children of similar standards against each other, is being scrapped.

Former England international and Esher board member Simon Halliday has been one of the most vocal critics.

He wrote in the Financial Times: "We are appalled and have withdrawn from all Surrey rugby competition. In sport there are winners and losers. As long as you don't demean the loser, it's straightforward."

With a home World Cup on the horizon the RFU is keen to increase the sport's popularity, and feel the new policy will keep children playing the sport who would otherwise be put off by its competitive nature.

"The tournaments will still have matches which are won or lost but this is about removing the 'win-at-all-costs mentality' which is creeping into the game," said the RFU's development director Steve Grainger.

"That can lead to coaches not giving all players a game, just choosing their best players to try to win the tournament, and that will drive kids out of the sport."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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