The popular and successful North West Regional Youth Rugby Friday night competitions will run again in 2020 for a third consecutive season.
The under-14s and under-16s competitions will both include Narrabri Rugby Club teams again this year.
The Narrabri under-14s team, which are the competition’s defending champs, will be coached by ex Narrabri Blue Boar Chris Fowler, with current senior club player Clayton Pursche to be his assistant.
The under-16s team will be co-coached by Ken Campbell and current senior club player Chris Watkins.
Campbell, who is the North West Regional Youth Rugby co-ordinator, said that the Friday night competition had boosted the numbers of players aged 14-18-years-old in the zone.
“The comps will probably start late March at this stage,” Campbell said.
“It’s a growing comp at the moment, TAS (The Armidale School) has entered it, and based off last year there could be two 10-team comps, with upside on that depending on other clubs.
“The season before the Friday night comps began I think there was about 50 registered kids in the 14s to 18s, but now with the Friday night comps we had over 600 last year.
“There’s also a lot of girls playing too which is great, they make up about 25 per cent.”
Campbell said that the strength of the Friday night competitions had a positive effect on representative rugby in the zone.
“It has opened up pathways for representative rugby,” Campbell said.
“The Central North representative teams have gone very well, I think last year the 14s finished second at the Country Championships and the 13s were pretty strong too.
“It’s created regular football so kids are playing every week. Narrabri had two Country representative players last year, more football gives those players exposure.”
Fowler agreed with Campbell regarding the benefits of the Friday night competitions, and said that the current format also enabled children from other codes to play rugby union while still participating in their other sport on the weekend.
Fowler and Campbell said that travel would not be an issue, with the Narrabri Junior Rugby Club committed to providing bus transport to most away games for the under-14s and under-16s teams.
This year the under-16s team has the potential to be a strong side if players from the 2018 and 2019 under-14s back-to-back premiership-winning sides continue to play and progress to the next age group.
The under-14s squad is expected to enter a rebuilding phase, but Fowler said that the club still had high hopes for the next crop of junior Blue Boars players.
Pre-season training for the Narrabri Junior Rugby Club’s two Friday night comp teams will begin with a session at Dangar Park on Tuesday, February 4.
The club encouraged juniors from all across the Narrabri Shire to come along and try the sport.