Scottish Rugby last week announced the most comprehensive change ever to youth rugby in the country through the first organised league system for Scotland’s schools, alongside a revamp of the club youth league structure.
For the first time, rugby-playing schools able to produce teams at every secondary school age level have been grouped together into ‘conferences’ based on the number of teams they field and the quality of the rugby development programme they run.
Each school will play at all age levels, with points being awarded for each team participating to give a total number of points for each school per matchday.
The conferences will be played during the autumn term, with the winning school having the largest points total at the end of the fixture programme.
There has also been a similar revamp of the club youth league structure.
These fixtures have been aligned with the senior club fixtures, which means that the two clubs will face each other at all levels from S1 (U13) to 1st XV for the first time.
The aim of the competition structure is to place an emphasis on the longer-term development process. Clubs and schools who have good coaching and player development programmes at all levels will inevitably perform well in the conference competition and be rewarded with points based on their ability to develop and retain players in their programmes.
Keith Russell, Scottish Rugby’s director of domestic rugby, said: “Our aim is to focus school and club attention on encouraging and supporting good rugby development cultures and by grouping schools and clubs in this fashion we are recognising that clubs and schools with like-minded ambitions can progress and develop their programmes.”
Former Scotland head coach Frank Hadden, who liaised with the schools sector during the development of the new programme, said: “We needed a structure that creates more opportunities for children to play the game at a realistic level and be able to take their abilities as far as they can.”