This face-off first appeared in Rugby world magazine in June

It’s a big question: Should we keep score in mini rugby?

So we asked two figures with experience of the youth game to give us their views on this hot topic.

Youth chair of Haywards Heath RFC

“THERE IS no better view than a Sunday morning looking around the grounds and seeing hundreds of kids playing rugby. Minis-wise, we’ve got about 450 kids and some are more aspirational than others; some of the very young ones just enjoy the fresh air. The fact we don’t compete, in a classical sense, doesn’t put them off. Everyone has in their mind what the score is.

“I understand the RFU’s stance in the sense there are no winners and losers and everyone gets a medal. The player who is average now might be a world beater in five years’ time and vice versa. In the very young age groups, one person can really make a difference.

“Everyone scores and kids will ask at half-time who is winning. If they’re doing well, you can tell them the score, albeit unofficially, but likewise if you’re dealing with a team not doing so well, you can fudge it, offer encouragement and say it’s a draw and that they need to keep going and just enjoy it.

“We encourage the boys and girls to be themselves. Players can enjoy the whole experience in the safe environment of the rugby club. The ethos is right in terms of team spirit and everyone is in bar afterwards for a glass of squash.

“The RFU stance is black and white but the parents keep score if their kids are winning! When it gets to the first year of junior rugby, 12s and 13s, it’s one point per try and if a team is winning by six, you can call a halt to the game to stop it getting too one-sided.”

Former minis coach at Bishop’s Stortford RFC

“THE FIRST time we encountered the non-scoring system was at a county festival in Hertfordshire a few years ago. We had come off the back of a very successful festival in Chelmsford where we had both teams in the final.

“We only found out in the morning that they weren’t going to be counting scores at the games. The boys were like ‘What? What’s going on here?’ And it really took the wind out of their sails because they had been playing to win for so long. Even at that age, U10s, U11s, they want to win. But it’s not just about winning, it’s about how to lose gracefully as well – it’s a life lesson. You’ve got to learn how to lose and win.

“I can see why they ‘play for fun’ at U6s and U7s as they’re just getting to hold a ball and run about, but not scoring until the age of 11 is a bit late. Kids want to play and go out and win.

“At nine years old when they start learning more technical stuff, they need to be rewarded. The fun and playing with your mates is a reward but not one you can get from winning. The young ones will be looking at senior teams at their club and thinking, ‘Hang on, if they’re winning things, why can’t we?’

“At a very young age they want to retain players but if you want to do that players must be rewarded and the reward is the win. I’ve seen games called off – if one team has scored ten tries you can end the game. That’s fine but that’s also about game management ahead of fixtures before it gets that far.”

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