Rugby Generation X looking to develop the next crop of young players - on and off the pitch
The concept behind Rugby Generation X is one that most parents with kids who play sport can relate to and although the programme is still very much in its infancy, there are already plans in place to expand it next year.
Rugby Generation X is a conference that will take place in the Aviva Stadium on August 27 as parents and their children come together with the relevant experts to meet and discuss four key areas.
Positive mental health & fitness, nutrition & diet, strength & conditioning and sports injury prevention & management will be the priority as parents and children learn how best to enhance their fledging sporting careers
While the seminar will be held at Aviva Stadium this year, director Eunan O’Carroll hopes to bring it to each of the four provinces next year.
Having only gone on sale last week, tickets are already said to be selling fast with the likes of sports psychologist & performance consultant Gerry Hussey who has previously worked with Munster as well as Colin McEntee (IRFU’s high performance manager), amongst others set to speak at the event.
The idea behind Rugby Generation X may in theory be a simple one but as Carroll explains, it is the first of its kind in Europe.
“Essentially it’s bringing parents and children, both boys and girls, who have a desire to play rugby at a high level,” he said.
“It’s bringing them together to get an informed opinion on the areas of a player’s development that are important.
“Very often you have parents who try and live their rugby lives through their kids.
“When I was growing up playing rugby, you were told to go into the gym and lift as much weight as you could, become a concrete block and be as big as you possibly could.
“That’s not the correct advice to be giving to kids and today’s strength and conditioning is a hell of a lot more sophisticated and a lot more science goes into it.
“It’s not all about protein and the rest of it, it’s what kids are putting into their bodies and what they’re going to get out of it.
“The whole area of mental health and mental toughness; how they can cope with sitting exams in Junior and Leaving cert and the balance of playing rugby.
“I was watching a school’s game at U-13 level about four years ago. I’m a parent of young rugby players. I found myself watching it and didn’t have any emotional involvement in that my sons weren’t playing.
“I found myself looking at parents on the sideline giving advice and shouting advice and maybe even abuse at kids where they had no actual experience in it.
“As a parent, I’m not qualified to tell my sons how they should approach their strength and conditioning or how he should approach their diet and all the rest of it.”
The IRFU including their performance director David Nucifora are firmly behind Rugby Generation X and it is also hoped that proceeds will eventually be used to create funding for a doctorate in rugby innovation.
The proceeds of this year’s event however will go to Liberty Saints – a newly founded rugby club in the heart of Dublin.
“The IRFU have been great with all the guidelines that have been set out but I just thought it would be great to bring all of those stakeholders together, “Carroll maintained.
“I couldn’t find anywhere this had been done in Europe. Then about a year ago, I cam across Tom McGee who is the coach of Liberty Saints.
“He established a rugby club about four years ago. They have two teams made up of U-14s and U-17s.
“A lot of kids playing are from disadvantaged or broken family backgrounds but he has used the structures to help them to get out of the house twice a week and go training and to be part of a team.
“They’re trying to put a pitch in the inner city but the problem is that a whole load of sporting organisations in the Liberties who are getting involved in that particular agenda.
“We want this (Rugby Generation X) to be a positive experience for Irish youth rugby and a positive experience for those who attend so that it becomes an annual event and it allows us to do something meaningful in the whole youth and development in Irish rugby.”
For information on Rugby Generation X, visit www.rugbygenerationx.ie, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call +353872476769.