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French Polynesia focused on growing the sport

Tahiti Nui Rugby Union ’s hard work in establishing pre-teen tag rugby festivals and age grade competitions for both boys and girls ages 12 -16, earned the Unions the Get Into Rugby Spotlight Union for the month of November.

Tahiti Nui Rugby Union Vice - President, Teiki Dubois said the Union was excited with the recognition a year after joining the region association.

“Thank you very much to Oceania Rugby for highlighting the work carried out with our young people during this month of November.

“It is with great humility that we welcome this award and still motivates us to continue our development work because we are aware of all the work that we still must do to make rugby a major sport in French Polynesia.”

All rugby activities in French Polynesia are managed by the Tahiti Nui Rugby Union , with the support of technical director Gilles Lafitte, clubs, rugby school managers and educators.

“It is a real collegial work effort. All club presidents have adhered to our development project, based on raising the technical level and skills of our young players, increasing the number of participants (currently rugby is the 8th sport in PF, in number of participants) and the installation of rugby as a major sport in schools” Dubois added.

Among the activities set up, Tahiti Nui Rugby Union have hosted a Discovery Day and open of rugby clubs. The goal for Discovery Day was for each young participant between the ages of 8 and 14 to invite a friend to discover rugby. All clubs participated and introduced rugby to many young people with organisers estimating more than 150 children have discovered rugby through this process.

In addition, Tahiti Nui Rugby Union also organised two U14 and U16 competitions, bringing together more than 80 young people in rugby sevens, and a U8-U10 and U20 field bringing together more than 100 children.

For the younger participants (U8, U10 and U12), Tahiti Nui Rugby Union have introduced an evolving form of play, which includes a “2 second touch”, and a “2 second belt” for the younger age groups.

Dubois explaining the evolving form of play said “It is a varied form of flag rugby, which eliminates the risk of injury. This form of play was set up following an assessment of our technical shortcomings in our senior teams. In parallel with the matches, during each tournament, the young participants are evaluated in technical workshops (tackles, passing, excess and avoidance), not on the results of the game.”

Alongside this new form of play, French Polynesia have set up a development center for children under 15, where each month around twenty young, layers come together for more in-depth technical work.

French Polynesia implemented school actions during the month of November. “We have initiated rugby cycles with a school in Papeete and another in Mahina, with non-contact forms of play, for children aged 9, 10 and 11.

“We also work with one of the largest colleges in the capital to offer every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, after school, one hour of rugby to around twenty students who are having difficulty studying.” Dubois added

Fédération Polynésienne de Rugby (Tahiti) saw the need for trained and qualified rugby educators. Therefore, the Union have set up federal educator courses and each session has between 8 and 10 registered educators (100 hours of training and final assessment in the field). (2 to 3 sessions per year).

In November, the President of French Polynesia and mayor of Pirae, Eduoard Fritch, visited the municipality of Pirae’s rugby club to see the amazing efforts of the local rugby schools. He was very impressed by work being done the for youth of French Polynesia and by the values conveyed through rugby.

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