Action Cameras and Weight-For-Age on Trial
As more than 40,000 girls and boys kick-off the Junior Rugby League season at local fields across the state this weekend, NSW Rugby League has revealed details of game-changing trials with action cameras on referees and weight-for-age competitions.
NSWRL’s latest implementations follow a number of "Respect" protocols already introduced this year to ensure players and coaches preserve a strong relationship with referees, as well as respecting their opponents, all officials and spectators.
During the season referees will take to the field with shot box action cameras strapped to their chests to record the behaviour of players, coaches and parents on the sidelines.
The 10-week trial starting this weekend will be conducted in the Under-16s Balmain, St George and South Sydney Junior League district, with only half the games recorded as part of a controlled test to compare player behaviour against the matches not recorded.
In another strategy to increase junior participation, Junior Rugby League players will soon be allowed to play against children their own weight and age.
The Manly, Western Suburbs, North Sydney and St George Junior League districts are expected to run a mid-season weight-for-age pilot program for their Under-9s and Under-11s competitions.
“We know that the children who play Junior Rugby League are passionate about the sport and have a desire to compete on a level playing field with their friends," NSWRL Head of Football Barrie-Jon Mather said.
"All kids mature physically and mentally at different rates and it isn’t always possible for some kids, who still love the sport, to compete at the same level for a period of time.
"In cases like this, the weight-for-age competition reassures parents that their kids are in a safe environment, provides kids with an environment to compete in, gives them time to grown in confidence and develop their skills in the appropriate competition and hopefully keeps more of them as life long players and fans of Rugby League”.
This year the NSWRL has taken the lead in a game-wide initiative aimed at stamping out unacceptable behaviour on and off the field, including its “Respect” pledge, the “Let Them Play” campaign - an educational video series for grassroots clubs in a bid to stop negative behaviour at footy grounds - as well as the latest action cameras and weight-for-age competition trials.
All Junior Rugby League players across NSW are encouraged to take the "Respect" pledge online.