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Missing the point on schools rugby;Leading Article;Opinion

IF SUCCESS in future years rugby internationals is related to numbers currently playing at school level, Scotland can expect a few drubbings over the next decade.

Wales has double the number of school rugby players, Ireland three times and England a phenomenal 25 times. As the Scottish Rugby Union admitted last year:

"We are at the blunt end of a numbers game." The inquiry into the crisis in Scottish rugby structures has therefore backed paying teachers to take coaching after school and teams on Saturday mornings. But Murrayfield is only able to make such a recommendation from a position of wealth.

It is a narrow, sports-specific view that may not be in the best interests of young people, who should experience a range of activities as part of their overall development, a view shared by independent sector heads.

The Scottish Football Association, the other affluent governing body, could equally suggest paying teachers to take teams. That, too, would be a sports-specific solution that would only bring division in school sport. Far better to pool any resources that are available for both sexes and to encourage a positive approach to activity across schools.

It may be rugby chiefs want to open up the debate on school sport with their recommendation, which includes time off in lieu as an option. That would serve a purpose with the Scottish Executive. But paying teachers for only one sport is a proposal that should be kicked into touch.

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