Rugby needs to get with the times if it wants to grow participation according to former NRL premiership winner Mark Gasnier.
(min cost $8)
Login or signup to continue reading
The dual code centre, who played for St George Illawarra Dragons in the NRL and represented in Australia in both league and union, has been visiting the western area.
He was at Endeavour Oval ion Orange on Monday, November 7 to promote his brainchild Tri Tag Rugby. The game has been picked up by Rugby Australia as its official non-contact version of the sport, to be rolled out in stages from 2024.
Gasnier said peoples' reasons for playing sport had changed over time and that rugby needed to find ways to widen its appeal, hence his inspiration for starting Tri Tag.
"The feedback has been great," he said.
"It's different to the other non-contact formats, you can kick on any play as high as you want, there's no restrictions on that. There are optional scrums, optional lineouts.
"The whole idea is to try to allow a participant to achieve their whole purpose for playing the game.
"I think sport appeals to so many people for different reasons now and you've really got to allow for a broader range.
"We are not as traditional as we once were in regards to what we want out of our sport. Hopefully with those options in there they get what they want out of it."
A group of around 20 kids took part in drills and a game on Emus' main field and while Gasnier said it was a great way for juniors to be introduced to rugby, the format was also being geared towards seniors.
"The only comp we've had established for a year or so now is at Newport Rugby Club [Northern Beaches] and we've seen female numbers go from zero to 180 within 18 months. That's huge," he said.
"But we've also got boys particularly over 35s, those older guys who can't risk injury and like a beer after the game. The social element is very much there as well.
"We shouldn't go the whole way and replace contact with non-contact. There will always be the traditional kids who will be gung ho into the contact and I would be that way but I think the majority will be a bit different about how they get introduced to it."
Gasnier made his way to Dubbo on November 8 to continue his trip around the area.
The former Dragon was quick to sing the praises of country footy, having been in Wagga Wagga over the weekend before arriving in the Colour City.
He did however notice some rival code's goalposts springing up while out west.
"I've been here plenty of times," he said.
"Andrew Farrar my first coach was a Cowra boy so he used to bring us out here. The bush has always produced the most talent.
"I know when I was a kid we always had people from the bush. They are a recruiter's dream because they rarely whinge they go about their business.
"Unfortunately I've been surprised to see a few AFL fields out this way. But as long as people are playing a team sport, it's fine."
Reading this on mobile web? Download our news app. It's faster, easier to read and we'll send you alerts for breaking news as it happens. Download in the Apple Store or Google Play.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.