All junior rugby players across NSW that are keen to progress their rugby to a higher level have access to a “Representative Pathway” through their various associations. Dependent upon the age group these higher levels can be anywhere from a district/zone team, to a Sydney or NSW Country team, or in a schools association team (CHS, CCC, GPS, CAS, ISA or AICES). From these teams they can then move onto the pinnacle of a NSW team.
As a rule most of these Representative Pathways do not clash or interfere with each other but there are some unique age groups where players whom are playing both at school and club rugby could be eligible for both of the different Representative teams.
This article is to clarify these particular pathways so as to define the selection process and pathways for players to higher honours.
The two main age groups where this occurs are the Under 16s and the U18s (Opens). This is where both the schools and club Rep pathways can often see players eligible for selection in teams along both pathways.
The Under 16s process is quite simple as the club teams and schools teams are all selected and announced at the same time of year. The teams are selected independently and lodged with NSW Rugby - any players whom are selected in more than one side then go into the draft and the various associations will meet and go pick for pick (with each getting first selection on alternate years). This process has worked well for a number of years.
The Under 18s pathway is a little more tricky to navigate due to the different nature of the various competitions across both schools and club rugby in this age group. And in 2019 this pathway has somewhat changed again with the Rugby Au Representative pathway moving to an Academy model via the State bodies.
Plus we have teams that are trialing and selected at different times of year which can sometimes lead to players whom are across both schools and club rugby gaining selection in more than one representative team.
Both the schools and clubs associations have been working closely together to clarify this pathway structure and to provide better communications to the rugby community on how this works.
In essence there are two representative pathways – the traditional schools representative pathway and the NSW Juniors club representative pathway. Regardless of which pathway a player chooses their initial aim is to make it to the GEN BLUE Academy from where they then have a chance to make the Australian Schools & U18s team.
The traditional Schools representative pathway is available to all school students in NSW to progress from their schools rugby competitions or discovery / trial days though to their association representative teams (GPS, CAS, ISA, CHS, CCC & AICES). These Representative teams will compete at the NSW Schools Open Trials (week of 23rd Jun) for the chance to be selected in either the NSW I or NSW II. These two teams will become part of the GEN BLUE Academy and will enter the NSW GEN BLUE Camp on 1st - 3rd July. Other players may also be selected from the NSW Schools Opens Trials into a Combined States or Cavaliers team that will compete at the Australian Schools (ASRU) Championships (at Riverview 9th-13th Jul)). From this tournament they will select an ASRU Barbarians team.
Players may also be selected into the Waratahs Gen Blue Academy from any of the games along the pathway and from there make the Waratahs Gen Blue Team to play Queensland and the ACT in September. From these games in September they can be eligible to be selected into the Rugby Au Australian Schools & U18s team to play against NZ or tour the UK.
The NSW Juniors representative pathway is designed for the aspirational "Club Rugby" players to be able to further their rugby at a higher level.
Whilst it is acknowledged that there may be a lot of these club rugby players also still at school and eligible for the Schools pathway – there is a great number of Under 18 club rugby players that have left school young, are pursuing a trade, attending TAFE (or similar) or for various reasons they miss out on trialing for their schools teams.
This pathway is fully inclusive and gives these players the opportunity to progress to represent NSW Country U18s or Sydney U18s. From here both these sides will play each other and a trial against CHS for a chance at selection into the NSWJRU I or II teams. These teams will play AAGPS and then a final NSWJRU I team will be selected to become part of the GEN BLUE Academy and will enter the NSW GEN BLUE Camp on 1st - 3rd July. From here the NSWJRU I team will go on tour to Perth to play against the West Australian Force Academy team.
Players may also be selected into the Waratahs Gen Blue Academy from any of the games along the pathway and from there make the Waratahs Gen Blue Team to play Queensland and the ACT in September. From these games they can be eligible to be selected into the Rugby Au Australian Schools & U18s team to play against NZ or tour the UK.
The various schools and club associations have worked together closely to design these pathways enabling ALL rugby players across NSW to have access to a substantial and meaningful representative pathway.
We have also collaborated to ensure that selection policies are clear, transparent and consistent across both pathways.
Any players that are playing both club and schools rugby may be eligible for selection in either pathway. And BOTH pathways lead to the eventual Rugby Au Australian Schools & U18s team.
As such the policy around any players whom are selected in a NSW Country or Sydney U18s team AND also in a Schools Representative team is that they should immediately upon selection choose which pathway they wish to pursue and withdraw from the other. This will avoid any clashes of programs which potentially require a player to be in two places at once and will open a spot for another player to gain representative selection.
All associations are encouraged (both club and school) to allow the players to choose the pathway that suits them best – they can explain the various options of each but do not say one is better than the other – let the players and their parents choose what suits them best.