Each year we are inundated with questions about the various Rep rugby pathways in NSW. These include not only both the NSW Juniors (club) and the NSW Schools pathways but also the Elite NSWRU pathways through the GEN Blue and Academy programs. To provide a level of transparency and clarity around these different pathways, NSW Juniors, NSW Schools and NSWRU have worked closely together to simplify and align all these pathways to ensure that all elements of rugby within NSW have a vibrant and inclusive pathway to higher levels of rugby.
To clarify these pathways for the different age groups we have put together some simple 'Roadmaps' which hopefully clearly state the stages for each age group along the pathways.
In the U10 and U11 age groups the players are still considered to be playing under pathways rules - that is they are on a slightly modified field size, with 12 players in each team and with slight law variations as they are essentially still being introduced to the game. NSW Juniors hosts The Rugby Club Foundation NSW Junior State Gala for these ages, which in 2023 will be held at the Eric Tweedale Fields in Granville. Our tournament hosts will be Western Sydney Two Blues and will be held on the weekend of 15th-16th July.
This tournament has no finals- it is purely a round robin where all teams will play 3 games on each day. The essence of this tournament is about fun and the enjoyment of the game, whilst still providing an entry level experience to Rep rugby. Zones and Districts are invited to enter two teams of up to 18 players in each squad and we do ask that they be graded into A & B levels so that we can match like-for-like teams and avoid potential blow-outs by mismatching teams.
The atmosphere is all about fun and includes relay races and novelty events to add to the experience. This is already an iconic event in our calendar and well worth the trip.
A special part of this event is that teams and their officials and supporters all compete for the ‘Spirit of Rugby’ awards at the carnival. This is an all-encompassing award that is judged on the actions & behaviors of the team AND their supporters over the weekend rather than any results on the field. The U10 teams compete for the ‘Dr John George Spirit of Rugby Shield’ and the U11’s for the ‘G.R.Paton Spirit of Rugby Shield’. There are no other awards like this that we know of.
There are no further teams selected from this tournament.
For the 7s format there is a Club State Gala for the U11 age group.
The U12 and U13 age groups have their pinnacle as The Rugby Club Foundation NSW Junior State Championships. At these age groups it is a proper competitive tournament- we do play finals for a trophy and will declare a State Champion team at the end of the weekend. The U12 teams will play for the ‘J.C.Degotardi Trophy’ and the U13 teams for the ‘B.J.Gregory Shield’.
There are no further Rep teams selected beyond this carnival. In 2023 these State Championships will be held on the June long weekend (10th-12th June) and our hosts for the U12 State Championships will be the Camden Rugby club out at Camden Rugby Park. For the U13 age group our hosts will be Orange City Rugby with Waratahs Fields being the venue. Two magnificent venues for what is always a great weekend of junior rugby.
NSW Country will also host a Country Champs at the end of the season (9th & 10th Sept) inviting TWO teams per Zone for each of these age groups.
SJRU will host a Development Gala for U12s –inviting a 2nd team from each District (separate to Rep team that attended State Champs) 8th/9th July, during school holidays. It is a great way to give a wider group the chance to experience what Rep rugby is all about in a fun, carnival atmosphere. This Tournament is also open to any of the Country Zones who have a team that wishes to participate.
For schools we have the PSSA (CIS, Public & Catholic Schools) which also hold Primary School Championships over the U12 age group. The PSSA Champs are held from 21st - 24th August.
For the 7s format of the game there is the U13 NSWRU State 7s which are held at Forster Tuncurry from the 23re September. These U13 7s sides are selected as Zone/District Rep teams for this tournament.
The under 14 age group is the first step in the pathway where there are further teams selected from the State Champs (Incl Sydney Cups & Country Champs) that will go onto play in higher level fixtures. The U14 teams will contest the historic ‘Hawton Trophy’ which was first won back in 1958.
The State Championships for the U14 age group are held in Dubbo over the June long weekend (10th - 12th June). Our 2022 host club is Dubbo Roos Rugby Club with Apex Oval Fields are the venue.
NSW Country (CRU) & Sydney Junior Rugby Union (SJRU) will each select a squad of 35-40 from the State Championships. They will then train these squads up until the NSWJRU Regionals (1st - 2nd July) at Grantham Oval, Seven Hills hosted by Blacktown Scorpions Junior Rugby)where they will be split into a Red/Blue or Back/Gold teams and play some selection trial games. From here they will select the final Sydney & NSW CountryU14 teams.
The NSW Country U14 and Sydney U14 teams will then compete at the NSWJRU City vs Country Carnival on Sunday 23rd July (Maitland) for the Tim Gavin Shield.
Further selection will see Gen Blue select a team of U14 players to participate as development players in the U15 Gen Blue program in Sep.
The Sydney U14 Boys will also compete in an annual SJRU vs BJRU fixture on the 17th Sept. In 2023 this fixture will be hosted in Sydney.
At the U15 age group the Representative pathway steps up a notch. For NSW Country & SJRU, The Rugby Club Foundation NSW Junior State Champs (which includes Country Champs & SJRU Sydney Cup) are the first port of call for the selectors and players alike. At these champs the teams will compete for the ‘John Goddard Shield’ and in 2023 these State Champs will be hosted by will be hosted by West Harbour Juniors at St Luke’s Fields, Concord.
From the State Champs SJRU will selected THREE Rep teams which will go onto contest the Positive Rugby Foundation Regionals at Grantham Oval on 1st & 2nd July alongside TWO x NSW Country teams. The three SJRU teams selected are SJRU Red & Blue plus an SJRU Barbarians(Baa Baa). The 2 x CRU teams are split into Black and Gold. The Regionals tournament serves as a selection trial for the Sydney U15 team and NSW Country U15 team. It is also another chance for players to be seen for GEN BLUE representation.
Both the CJRU and SJRU U15 teams will then compete for the Steve Tuynman Cup at the City v Country Carnival on 23rd July at Maitland. All games along this pathway will serve as selection trials for the NSW U15 Gen Blue Academy which is chosen for further rugby development in Sep.
In the 7s format of the game, the NSWRU State 7stournament will be held at Forster Tuncurry from the 6th– 8th October. These U15 7s sides are selected as Zone/District Rep teams for this tournament. There are NSW sides selected beyond this.
All along the junior pathway there are weekly rugby competitions run by both clubs and school’s associations. Many players will be actively playing for both their school and for their local club side along the way. The Under 16 age group is the first age group where (at a Rep level) these two pathways collide.
For the club players the road to The Rugby Club Foundation NSW State Champs (which includes Country Champs & SJRU Sydney Cup) remains the same. Where they will compete for the ‘Chas Hansen Trophy’ which was first awarded back in 1961. Then into the Regionals which are selection trials for both SJRU and CRU teams.
At the same time the Schools Associations will be selecting their Rep teams (CHS, CCC, AICES, GPS, CAS &ISA) at various trial days across May and June.
Both 2x NSW Country and 2x SJRU U16 teams will compete at the Regionals Tournament on 1st & 2nd July, and from here they are both cut down to final squads. But the final SJRU & CRU U16 teams will not be announced until the 3rd July.(*again, keep reading).
On the 24th & 25th June the NSW Schools associations will compete in trial games to determine selection into the NSW Schools I & II teams - these teams will not be announced until after 3July.
NSW Schools, SJRU and CRU all acknowledge that players coming thru their systems may also be eligible for representative rugby coming through one of the other systems. As such when the final team selections are made, and players may have been selected in two separate Rep teams, the associations have a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to deal with such instances. Each Association will have the 1st pick on alternate years - in 2023 it is CRU's turn to pick 1st over NSW Schools & NSW Schools turn to pick 1st over SJRU. Players from the depth charts are called into the teams to replace any common players selected. This process takes place on the 3rd July and final teams are announced after that.
The NSW Invitational is a round robin selection tournament on the 8th & 9th July where CRU U16s, SJRU U16s and the NSW Schools I & II U16s all compete for selection into one of the two NSW U16 GEN BLUE teams that will compete in the U16 National Academy games starting on Sunday 8October
NSW Country and Sydney U16s will also compete for The Ella Cup at The Rugby Club Foundation NSW City vs Country Carnival on Sunday 23rd July.
For players in this age cohort there is also a pathway via the 7s format of the game.
The U17 NSWRU State 7s tournament will be held at Forster Tuncurry from the 6th– 8th October. These U17 x 7s sides are selected as Zone/District Rep teams for this tournament. There are NSW sides selected beyond this to compete in a National 7s tournament.
The U18 Representative landscape is the area that causes the most confusion and discussion.
The summary of the pathway is that all Associations - School & Club (GPS, CAS, ISA, CCC, CHS, AICES, CRU & SJRU) will compete in trial games together and from here FIVE x NSW teams will be selected in 2023. These teams are two GEN BLUE Academy teams which will go on to compete against the other States Academy teams. A further three teams (NSW Schools I & II and NSW Juniors) that will contest at the ASRU tournament at Knox Grammar in early July.
There is also a BONUS NSW Barbarians U18 Rep team that will be chosen solely from players that take part in the NSW State Championship (which includes Country Champs & SJRU Sydney Cup) and competes for the ‘N.S.W.J.R.U Shield’. This team also competed at the ASRU carnival in2022 – plans for 2023 are pending.
To expand on this in more detail.
Sydney U18s will select their U18 team from an 'Open' SELECTION trial day on April 30th. All registered players in SJRU, SRU colts and Suburban colts that are still U18 are welcome to nominate to trial. Sydney will select a squad from here.
NSW Country will select their U18 team from their 'Open' SELECTION trials on May 7th.
NSW Schools Associations (GPS, CAS, ISA,CHS, CCC & AICES) will all select their teams from various trials or competitions over May and June.
The issue of players that are eligible for both club and school pathways being selected in more than one team will depend predominantly upon which school association they are involved with. We know that there will be clashes on May 28th and June 23rd with the various programs. Thus, players from CCC, ISA, CHS & AICES who are dually selected may be able to do both but will involve discussions between the teams to determine if it is feasible to play in more than one pathway. Obviously when the teams are playing against each other it is not feasible to be in both teams.
It doesn't really matter which pathway a player chooses as the associations are all playing trials against one another for Gen Blue selection in front of the same selectors. All of these trial games are included in the selection process.
Sydney U18 and Country U18s will also play each other for the Michael Brial Cup on Sunday 23rd July.
Plenty of opportunities to impress selectors. Note to be considered for selection into one of the NSW teams, players MUST compete in these trials.
From these trials, five NSW teams will be selected as follows
o 2x NSW Gen Blue teams (from any trial participant)
o 2x NSWSRU teams (from any participants attending school)
o 1x NSW Juniors team (from any trial participant)
All participants are expected to attend the trial day on the 23rd June to be considered for selection in these teams –players injured in trial games prior to the 23 June and who live in the Greater Sydney area are expected to attend a medical at the trial venue in order for a decision on availability for the selected teams. Students/Players not in the greater area and in consideration for selection will be contacted by NSW Rugby with the NSW medical staff informing the selectors of any decisions re availability.
During late June and early July, the Waratah Academy teams will play games against other State Academy teams.
The NSW Schools teams and the NSW Junior team will compete in the Australian Schools Championships to be held at Knox Grammar between the 3rd & 8 July.
The NSW Gen Blue Academy teams will be re selected at the conclusion of all competitions and these teams will play Queensland Academy teams at the end of term 3. The Australian Schools & U18 side will be selected to play NZ.
Some answers to many FAQ's
· A player may only be selected for ONE of the six NSW teams.
· The GEN BLUE Academy teams are run by the High-Performance department of NSW Rugby.
· Players in the GEN BLUE Academy teams will not participate at the ASRU Championships.
· Only players participating in the Association trials will be considered for selection. Players MUST make themselves available to be eligible.
· The NSW Schools teams are open to any student playing for any of the Association teams including SJRU & CJRU – basis they still attend school.
· Players eligible through the club pathway that have left school are only eligible for the GEN Blue teams and the NSW Juniors teams.
· The NSW Juniors team may have players from the school associations selected in it, basis they play club rugby.
· Only players that are still at school are eligible for the Australian Schools Barbarians.
· A player may be elevated to the GEN BLUE Academy teams following completion of school and club fixtures.
· The Australian Schools & U18 side and potentially an Australian Schools &U18 “A” side will be selected from the various State Academy teams.