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Introducing children to rugby: elite coaches’ perspectives on positive player development

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-04-26, 16:33 authored by Gethin Thomas, Mark R. Wilson

 The overall aim of the study was to identify what elite coaches believed were the key components for organised rugby union participation during childhood (7–11 years old). Nine elite male rugby union coaches participated in individual semi-structured interviews. Thematic analysis identified the importance of an age-appropriate competitive games pathway, where more specialised skills were built sequentially on top of the foundations of basic evasion, handling and tackling skills. The findings were generally supportive of the principles of the developmental model of sports participation (DMSP). In particular, elite coaches identified that an emphasis on less-structured games (deliberate play) and early diversification (sampling) were beneficial for player development in the mini rugby years (under 12). However, contrary to a strict interpretation of the DMSP, the coaches also identified that appropriate adult involvement and organised competition could be beneficial to development in these sampling years. 


Published in

Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health


Taylor & Francis


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)


Thomas, G.L. and Wilson M.R. (2013) 'Introducing children to rugby: elite coaches’ perspectives on positive player development', Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 6(3), pp.348-365

Electronic ISSN


Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences

Cardiff Met Authors

Gethin Thomas

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

  • Sport Coaching

Copyright Holder

  • © The Publisher


  • en