2020 Participation Changes

About the Participation Framework

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) wants as many people as possible to be part of our game for as long as they choose to be. In essence, we want New Zealanders to have a lifelong love of the game.

As part of that we need to balance the participation side of rugby with the performance side of rugby to ensure we meet the needs of all our participants (Players, referees, coaches and volunteers).

Rugby, like many sports is experiencing a drop in the number of our participants – particularly from Under 11 onwards.

To retain our young players into adulthood we need to give them more opportunities to play rugby in ways that suit them.

Our Participation Framework provides new opportunities for participants to be involved in rugby outside of the traditional 15-a-side pathway.

We know that while some participants play with a goal of reaching their highest potential, many other play to learn a new game, to have fun with their mates or keep fit. Rugby needs to cater for everyone. 


A focus on the participants

NZ Rugby and Provincial Unions are focused on moving away from trying to make the players fit the game we want to see delivered, to a game (or forms of the game) that players want to play.

To achieve this, rugby needs to deliver more forms of the game. This could be 15-a-side rugby, or it might be 7-a-side, 10-a-side and non-contact formats such as Rippa Rugby or RipRugby. The key is delivering what players and communities value and meeting that need.

Goals of the Participation Framework

The objective of the new framework is to improve the breadth and depth of those participating in rugby. This starts with exposing more kids to rugby through primary school, after school and holiday programmes, introducing them to club and secondary school rugby and ideally building a lifelong love of the game.

Player retention is the priority. Rugby does well in recruiting players into the game from ages 5 – 10, however, this is also where many of our participants begin to leave the game.

The below Participation Framework will help increase the opportunities for people to stay connected with the game for longer.

What are the changes?

In 2020 there are some exciting changes coming to Small Blacks Rugby in your Provincial Union.

These changes include Under 11 Small Blacks playing 10-a-side Rugby. New Zealand Rugby will also be running trials with Provincial Unions to understand the benefits of 10-a-side Rugby for Under 12 and Under 13 Small Blacks.

RipRugby will also become an official part of the Small Blacks Development Model. It provides a fun and exciting non-contact rugby format and will be available in Rugby Clubs for the 2020 season.  

To view the 2020 Small Blacks Development changes click here.

Over the coming months NZ Rugby will be introducing further changes to improve adult and secondary school rugby.

Have questions?

Please feel free to read our Frequently Asked Question section on the 2020 Rugby Framework changes.

Share your feedback

We'd love to hear your feedback about the 2020 Rugby Framework changes. You can get in touch via email: participation@nzrugby.co.nz

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Small Blacks Changes

Find out about changes to Small Blacks for 2020.

Small Blacks Changes

Game On

Game On is a new initiative for School and Adult Rugby.

Game On