How does our “youth acquainting” work without an academy?

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  • #9474
    Spike Island 90
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    Having just recently listened to an interview with Kyle Amor who said he was still playing amateur rugby until 19 and the success of Kenny Baker who has had a similar path, I wonder whether we are scouting the amateur game for players?

    Widnes is blessed with talented academy players and some players who don’t get picked up at 16, developed immensely by 18/19 but very rarely attract offers from the professional/semi-professional game?  I wonder if Widnes are using the amateur game as potential pool of untapped gems?

     

    #9485
    MT
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    You’d certainly hope we would have our finger on the pulse when it comes to the local amateur scene. Obviously the biggest problem though is that the pick of the players are likely to be snapped up by SL clubs in the region. And with no academy or reserve team it’s going to be hard to persuade young players to sign for us. Not really sure what the solution is.

    #9489
    Royston Vasey
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    Having just recently listened to an interview with Kyle Amor who said he was still playing amateur rugby until 19 and the success of Kenny Baker who has had a similar path, I wonder whether we are scouting the amateur game for players? Widnes is blessed with talented academy players and some players who don’t get picked up at 16, developed immensely by 18/19 but very rarely attract offers from the professional/semi-professional game? I wonder if Widnes are using the amateur game as potential pool of untapped gems?

    What started the beginning of the great Widnes teams – Cup Kings, then Champions and eventually World Champions was the emergence of a group of local lads who all played schoolboy, amateur and semi-0pro within a stones throw  of Widnes –  Alan Prescott, George, Hughes, Bowden, Elwell, Sheridan, Foran and Adams, added to Dutton, Asprey and Dennis O’Neill, who were just a bit older and then followed by the likes of John Wood, Nick Nelson, Alan Dearden and the young Mike O’Neill etc. of course we had Vinty coaching, Dougie making a comeback from serious injuries and a fairly useful Welsh prop too.

    Our success was built on local lads who, by and large, enjoyed playing together for the sake of it, rather than trying to make a big wage out of it and who didn’t have expectation placed upon them by fans who remembered better days – we were dire for most of the 50’s and 60’s .

    gradually we and more obviously Wigan were responsible for the soccer like way of buying success – relatively speaking our squad became a lot more cosmopolitan and was bought with money we didn’t have and we (and a lot of other traditional clubs who got dragged into a professional game) are suffering the consequences.

    the only solution I can see is to scrap the professional game and revert to a local seni-pro / amateur game with matches being attended by people who like the game rather than by just wanting glory. It won’t happen though as the usual suspects in SL are still trying to make money out of the mess.

    #9490
    sandgroper
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    Well said RV. Pretty well sums it up imo.

    Sheens started trying to gather local talent passed over by the big boys and probably the base on which we continue to rely. Sheens might have developed it further or quicker but that ship has sailed, sadly.

    But we are where we are and as a concept it could still be the base that we build on. There must be a break point where promising lads make a decision, eithef to get a career and play PT RL mainly for high grade fun, or chance their arm in the FT arena.

    Many of the latter group will never see the big time but be farmed out squad members just in case an injury crisis hits their club.

    Not knowing our players personally it is hard to know just how our future might unfold. From the bits of info that do come through there are some of our lads who have gained qualifications while in our academy. Just how far that will guide their decisions is difficult to judge.

    Maybe we are returning to the pre-contract days when being able to offer PT players a job ensured their signature. Whether we have enough employers who could or would help is an unknown, but it’s worth looking at. Degsy got signatures on that basis, that we do know!

    The new pay structure may force most clubs to revise their pay structures. Players contracts already signed will require fulfilling so cuts will come elsewhere in their clubs.

    The loss of large firms with large workforces will make jobs more scarce I guess. My dad worked with a number of players under the old 70s system and certainly one player told him that the cash was OK but ‘I’d be playing anyway, I love the game and I’d play for an amateur side if I wasn’t playing for Widnes!’ Whether that sentiment still holds good I don’t know.

    #9493
    Dan1
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    <p style=”text-align: left;”>We will pick up the odd player from the amateur game, you always get the odd late developer. However by far the most likely is 18/20 year olds from Wigan, Saints and Warrington that don’t quite make the grade and are too old for the academy. Any leading 14-16 year olds in the town of Widnes will get snapped up by them with the hope of making it as a full time SL pro. Sadly we can no longer offer the training environment to facilitate this ambition</p>
    <p style=”text-align: left;”>The problem we have being part time is the player pool is smaller this side of the pennines and with teams like Bradford and Featherstone, why would you commute over to Widnes after having a full time job. You would never have time to see your family. The same could be said of Cumbrian players as well, many with jobs would rather play for Whitehaven, Barrow or Worky rather than face a 2 hour drive. The good news for us is Wigan and Saints academies are 2 of the best at producing players, and Warringtons that has traditionally been poor seems to be improving.  However Salford and Leigh can offer a local full time environment for the better youngsters that don’t quite make the grade at the top sides.</p>
    <p style=”text-align: left;”>Our current squad is now more local than it has been at any point in the last 30 years,  without the traditional sprinkling of Kiwi, Aussie and Welsh players. I think we will mostly have local players winding down like Cook and Jewitt plus SL loan signings like Robson and O’Neil.  Finding the odd gem from lower league sides like Kenny Baker and Deon Cross will be important and I would say they are 2 of our best players.</p>

    #9495
    CJ91
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    I think in theory there should be less of a problem with getting younger players who aren’t quite good enough or ready for Saints, Wigan and Wire.

    The problem I think comes with the gnarled pros who have maybe 50+ SL and 100+ Championship games under their belt, I don’t see too many of them in Lancashire/NW but there are more in Yorkshire. I think we have got the lions share of them already in Jewitt, Cook, Clough, Smith, Tyrer and Grady but it is a small pool.

    #9496
    sandgroper
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    The cut in funds could pose questions for many club organisations and players too. It will be an interesting re-jig of our game.

    #9505
    GofynGofyn
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    London scholars had 8 local lads in the team today and 4 internationals (Jamaica 🙃). We have no excuse

    #9510
    Royston Vasey
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    London scholars had 8 local lads in the team today and 4 internationals (Jamaica 🙃). We have no excuse

    The problem is that kids in Widnes don’t play the game at schools any more, so they don’t kick on to the amateur all age game – at least not in the numbers they did in the 1950’s and 60’s – and kids with an aptitude to play rugby see that chance of more money in the top levels of rugby union.

    Families used to go and watch Widnes – kids went because their dads and grandads did. F you break the chain and dads stop going, kids stop going too.

    #9511
    sandgroper
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    Schools are the place to start. The education authorities will have to be persuaded that it is beneficial!!!

    #9512
    CJ91
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    I’m sure Wade Deacon were in the game at Wembley about 3 years ago…

    Speaking from experience, the move to summer has not been totally beneficial for schools because for the older years it clashes with exams.

    Also, you need staff who are trained in RL coaching otherwise the Club would have to provide coaches, have we got those resources?

    You can have the odd day or two when coaches come in and give a taster of RL, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into kids deciding they want to join a club.

    #9513
    Spike Island 90
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    I’m sure Wade Deacon were in the game at Wembley about 3 years ago… Speaking from experience, the move to summer has not been totally beneficial for schools because for the older years it clashes with exams. Also, you need staff who are trained in RL coaching otherwise the Club would have to provide coaches, have we got those resources? You can have the odd day or two when coaches come in and give a taster of RL, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into kids deciding they want to join a club.

     

    I have never really understood why junior rugby is played on a Sunday, I know many professional games are played on a Friday now but those games on a Sunday that coincide with junior games make it very difficult for the parents to take them to their junior game in the morning and then say a Widnes game later on.

     

    Going back to original point I am not suggesting there’s a huge market for amateur players who don’t make the grade professionally at 16 but I certainly hope the club wouldn’t be adverse to signing a quality amateur player who is 19 years of age for example. Cumbrian clubs, Swinton and a few other clubs, sign some good players on the back of them not coming through an academy pathway.

    #9514
    Royston Vasey
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    I’m sure Wade Deacon were in the game at Wembley about 3 years ago… Speaking from experience, the move to summer has not been totally beneficial for schools because for the older years it clashes with exams. Also, you need staff who are trained in RL coaching otherwise the Club would have to provide coaches, have we got those resources? You can have the odd day or two when coaches come in and give a taster of RL, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into kids deciding they want to join a club.

    Just to clarify what I meant by schools, when I played for St Bedes u-11’s about a million years ago we played against St Marie’s, St Michaels, Simms Cross, Our Ladies, St Patrick’s, a Greenfield u-12’s team and a Widnes Tigers u-12’s team. All bar the last one were schools based teams and all of them regular junior schools teams bar Greenfield, who would have counted as senior school being u-12. We also played friendlies against St Theresa’s from St Helens and against the St Helens u-11 ‘Town Team’. We played a few half time 7-a-sides at Naughton Park too. I suspect it’s not like that now – although not living in Widnes now I may be wrong.

    #9516
    CJ91
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    Just to clarify what I meant by schools, when I played for St Bedes u-11’s about a million years ago we played against St Marie’s, St Michaels, Simms Cross, Our Ladies, St Patrick’s, a Greenfield u-12’s team and a Widnes Tigers u-12’s team. All bar the last one were schools based teams and all of them regular junior schools teams bar Greenfield, who would have counted as senior school being u-12. We also played friendlies against St Theresa’s from St Helens and against the St Helens u-11 ‘Town Team’. We played a few half time 7-a-sides at Naughton Park too. I suspect it’s not like that now – although not living in Widnes now I may be wrong.

    I don’t live or work in Widnes either, but what I do know is that it is really easy to send a team to a Tag Rugby or a Sevens event ran by RU…….are there equivalent school events for RL?

     

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