New Zealand has long produced some of the world’s most successful teams, but just what is it that makes the Kiwi teams so special? The All Blacks win percentage hovers around the 75% mark – a staggering statistic. England’s is closer to 50%, so what are the main differences between the New Zealand teams and those of the rest of the world?
In New Zealand, kids start playing rugby young. In England, however, it’s unusual to see rugby played in primary schools. It’s played in many secondary schools – although nowhere near as many as football – but younger kids wanting to get involved in the sport often have to find a youth team at a local rugby club rather than relying on their school to provide the opportunity to play.
The New Zealand Rugby Football Union has well-funded programmes to support community initiatives and encourages kids as young as three years old to get involved. This is in stark contrast to the countries of the UK, where rugby is rarely seen as a suitable sport for such young children. As England Rugby says, rugby can be beneficial in the lives of all children.
Not only do Kiwi kids start playing rugby early, but those wanting to stick with the sport are put through a carefully planned and thorough training programme. Starting at the age of five, children are put through their paces with age-appropriate training aimed at slowly building their skills without getting them involved in the rougher aspects of the game. Once they are eight years old, defensive skills are introduced and the kids move on to set pieces and drills. If you’re interested in getting kids into the sport, a rugby drill video can be a great way to introduce them to slightly more complicated ideas. Sites such as https://www.sportplan.net/drills/Rugby/ have a wide range of resources for all skill levels.
Kiwi kids don’t start playing 15-a-side games until they’re around the age of 11, but by this point they have already developed many of the essential skills required to be great rugby players. Compare this with the UK, where many children only pick up a rugby ball for the first time at this age, and it’s not hard to see why the Kiwi team are consistently one of the world’s best.