- New FE Yorkshire league keeps students involved in rugby
- The focus now switches to increasing refereeing numbers
Student rugby across Yorkshire has received a major boost with the creation of the Yorkshire Further Education Series which now embraces a dozen organisations.
After two successful pilot festivals at Barnsley and Sandal last season won by Greenhead from Keighley, an FE Forum was organised at Cleckheaton which included workshops on Pathfinders, Coach & Referee development and the formation of club links.
The forum also focused on how the colleges and sixth forms wanted the competitive element to progress and there was broad agreement that in addition to festivals, an informal league mechanism would help fulfil the students’ ambitions.
"Even though the competition has only been running for such a short time, I see it as a massive success," said Community Rugby Coach Ollie Dixon, who has been driving the scheme.
"We now have more College/Sixth form games taking place on a Wednesday than previously and more of a buzz throughout the area about Further Education rugby.
"The new structure, in addition to providing the competitive framework that every player wants, has also helped to plug one of the areas where players are lost from the game - the transition from school to college and college to university.
"Now there are more opportunities for players to continue to play competitive rugby when they move on from school."
The increase in competitive matches has put a strain on the local refereeing society, but Dixon has plans to combat the problem, which can only benefit the game in Yorkshire in future.
"This growth has caused us a problem in that the referees society are struggling to find enough referees to cover the extra games we have created, so there is a reliance upon the coaches and RFU staff to referee, but in that regard we are simply being victims of our own success," he said.
"We are planning to organise a refereeing course specifically for College/Sixth Form staff and students, so that we can ease the pressure on the referees’ society. This, coupled with the fact that teams receive bonus points for providing a referee from within their institution, will perhaps combat the problem and hopefully some of the people attending the course will then become society referees."
“I would have liked to have seen more games being played, but we have made a good platform for us to build on in to the future."