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SportsTalk - Busy time for Bay of Plenty Rugby Union

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

SportsTalk - Busy time for Bay of Plenty Rugby Union

The Bay of Plenty Steamers’ first game of the 2013 ITM Cup season is still roughly three months away, but that doesn’t mean the union isn’t flat-out at all levels trying to pave the way for another successful year in 2013.

Things are going well from a player recruitment standpoint, with coach Kevin Schuler and his team putting a large group of contracted players from the full and development squads through their paces at early morning trainings in a bid to have the Steamers firing on all cylinders by the time the season begins away from home against Otago on August 18.

We believe a deliberate attempt to contract more players than ever before – up to 35 from 26 on full contracts as well as another 10 players on development deals – will be crucial in building a sustainable model that allows us to compete year in and year out.

A little more than half of the available places have been filled, with club rugby players having the next couple of weeks to press their claims before the coaching staff look further afield to fill any remaining vacancies.

A number of players on full and development deals are working through professional development sessions with our management as part of an NZRFU initiative attempting to produce more rounded, and therefore successful, players.

It’s important to note, however, that the Steamers are merely the top of a pyramid of an organisation encompassing every area of rugby in the region.

Our rugby development officer Kane Hames is this week running a holiday programme at Baypark for promising young players.

In term one he also administered our Rippa Rugby module, which attracted a record of about 1100 players from more than 100 teams throughout the Western Bay of Plenty.

Our rugby administrator for schools, Kyle McLean, has run three ‘You Make the Call’ courses at secondary schools in the last few weeks in the hope of attracting more referees to the game.

There is a nationwide shortage of referees and it is hoped by introducing students to officiating - with the added incentive of NZQA credits for those who complete the course – that many will turn to the whistle when their playing days are over.

Former Steamer and current rugby coach and player development manager Chad Tuoro has just led the first talent identification camp for under-15 players.

Plans are in place to extend the camps to include all age grades down to under-13 level, with women’s rugby to also be a big focus.

Add in the union’s plans to establish the Bay as the international home of sevens rugby development, the huge renovations to the Steamers training facilities on the outskirts of TECT Arena and a bumper first five weeks of the Baywide rugby season, and you start to get a sense of just how diverse the duties of the rugby union are.

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