McNamara backs summer switch

Steve McNamara believes that the switch of Rugby League’s community game season to March to November will benefit the whole sport from grassroots level through to the national side.

The England coach is convinced that better conditions in the summer for training and playing will significantly improve junior players’ skill development.

McNamara said: “I think it’s really progressive, first and foremost that’s the most important thing.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to push forward with everything involved in amateur Rugby League.

“There are a number of benefits and one of the biggest is for the junior players to be able to practise and play in high quality conditions.

“The clocks have gone forward now and the nights are getting lighter and I think that’s going to benefit everyone. I think we will see a standard of Rugby League from our juniors which will surpass what we have seen before.

“As a nation we’ve always developed forwards. Some of the thoughts behind this are that as junior players if you’re big and strong or quick you generally get pushed to the middle of the park pretty early in your career because playing in the winter in the mud and the rain and the snow is very difficult for anyone to pass to the edge.

“I certainly think that from an athlete performance side of things we’ll see many benefits – centres will maybe stay out there at centre rather than becoming a second rows or props simply because of the ability to play attractive Rugby League.

“It gives us a whole host of opportunities because when you don’t train on dark nights you don’t need any indoor facilities: the benefits are never ending really.

“Some of the skills that our juniors need to learn from an early age are very, very difficult to pick up when it’s a freezing cold night in November or December.

“To be able to go out on the field and have the sun shining on your back, to be able to stand and explain and not have the players moving just to keep warm will certainly enhance their opportunities to learn.

“In 10 year’s time or maybe even sooner we will certainly see a whole lot of benefits throughout the game, including at International level.”

McNamara also believes that playing Rugby League in the summer is more appealing and will attract more players to the sport.

He said: “It’s far more attractive to play in better conditions. Even for those of us that have had careers and have now finished it’s far more attractive to go out and play on a nice warm summer’s night.

“I think there will be one or two people that will be disgruntled to start with but once we are up and running – a little bit like when we turned to summer for Super League – people will wish we did it years ago.”

For more information on the new structure for Rugby League’s community game visit: www.therfl.co.uk/community_board/new_structure

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