Brisbane Rugby League U/7s UproaR Because they CAN’T Practise Like This

Hello fellow adult learners and peers. I generally do not show footage of players I have not been given permission to share.  However, this has had 1 million plus views! AND was posted publicly (see below). 

Now, recently there has been angst from my fellow rugby league people. Most suggest: ‘kids must learn the correct technique first’ etc as justification on why the proposal to remove tackling at u/7s is wrong. I personally think this video shows that what most of the League fraternity is missing, is the need for education!

Can somebody watch the vision and please prove me wrong? 

I am a little surprised at the uproar to be honest. The highlights show a dominant player that other kids look at to score tries. That’s a problem but there are many others… Sure I counted 50 missed tackles but FAR more concerning was how I counted on one hand the amount of tackles with ‘good technique’ that is preached loudly!

Nowadays slinging etc are banned for good reason. But from the public backlash it appears most junior league coaches are not aware of the push to protect the head. I am not going to labour the point here but please check out my previous three part blogs on concussion in AFL which also is a real concern. There is new evidence out of Ireland (the Irish Rugby Board (IRB) paid for it) that now shows the green zone (nipple line to belly button. It goes against everything that senior rugby league coaches teach including my own current coaching, where I did a session on wrestling levers. In the end though, these junior players look to go chest on chest in the vision which is VERY, VERY unsafe. This is because the comprehensive IRB work showed that almost all players concussed were tacklers!

Now, I do not know many staff members from the NRL but I have seen jobs advertised recently around this education and ‘coach development’ for the U/7s program in 2019, Thus, I will not steal their thunder. Yet I will say, that having taught, coached for decades in all three Australian mainstream contact sports, throughout all contexts too, the missing ingredient that will retain and attract players is coach development.

For example, I have lectured at university around processes like ‘task simplification’. It is PE teaching ‘101’. As such, the NRL is to be applauded for simplifying the task of tackling. I believe they should go even further but will say no more on that… However, I must state, that unlike the awkward and unsafe examples of head positioning/awareness, body height, feet positioning, framing, shape and tracking on show in this above U/6 vision, I’m guessing that the NRL hopes that players and coaches will learn that tackling ‘technique’ will happen much more safely and naturally with ‘tags’.

Once again I am in full support of this no tackling movement as it will be a far better learning environment. Unfortunately you see, the research indicates that junior and youth sport is littered with sports losing out because they forget that LEARNERS learn but rarely/sometimes do coaches help (Chris Cushion, 2017, GAA Conference Accessed today in ‘Coach Logic’). Usually, the adults stick with how things have always been done.

For a contrast on what is always done against what players need, please see my AFL example below. Here (this year) when I was working with Queensland U/15 girls about 12 minutes in. They had never trained like this before and called it ‘Gunny Madness’. They train in line-up drills etc because that’s the way that it’s always been done! I would suggest that these girls were far more engaged in my activity.

Finally, for more depth of discussion and sharing, please feel free to join my Facebook learning group below featuring nearly 500 coaches and learners,

Yours in learning and happy to share,

Gunny (senior League coach with skills) - B.Ed. (PE); M. Ed. (Coaching)

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