AS we begin another new year there has been a call to review Kaji Rugby competition and move away from contact rugby to tag rugby.
The call was made by Kaji Rugby founder Rupeni Tamani, who now runs a Kaji Rugby Academy based at Draiba Fijian School.
Tamani has had discussions with Fiji Rugby Association of Coaches, FRU Development Unit and Fiji Primary Schools regarding Kaji Rugby and has written a paper called the Way Forward for Kaji Rugby.
"As the 'father of kaji rugby' in Fiji, I would love to see that all primary schools (U8 - 12) focus their rugby on core skills development and tag rugby."
Tamani said these core skills were important to acquire with distinction at a very young age "because they are the nuts and bolts of rugby and they should be consistently practised and drilled until they become natural to them.
"Once they reach this stage of development then they are now ready for the introduction of contact and structures in the adult game of rugby," he said.
"While rugby is recognised as a multi-faceted game, there is a clear emphasis on contact in all the grades with less emphasis on skills.
The concern is that there is the danger of injuries to lower grade players who are not conditioned and less physically matured players will be seriously injured in frequent numbers.
However research from Australia suggests that the number of injuries from child rugby spikes dramatically at U12 at the start of 15-a-side rugby.
"This is something with which they are concerned and so are we in Fiji. We therefore suggest that the game be ball-focussed as opposed to its current focus (contact focused.)
"However, I believe the introduction of tag rugby at this stage is ideal as it will promote fun, enjoyment and involvement in this free-flowing game.
"At the same time this form of rugby creates more opportunities for players to get their hands on the ball, does not expose physical inequalities, gains more experience at making passes under pressure.
"These are the basic skills and developments that kaji rugby should be focusing on if we are to cut down on our basic mistakes at all levels of competitions and be more competitive at the international scene."
Since the inception of his academy in August, 2012, the following schools and groups had undertaken his four-week coaching program, which is aimed at the development of the players' core skills to become better and competent future rugby players:
* July, 2012 Draiba Primary School (pilot school both 15 boys and 22 girls).
* August, 2012 After School Coaching (30 students U9 -12 Suva schools).
* August, 2012 After School Coaching (35 students U9 - 12 Nasinu schools).
* December, 2012 School Holiday Camp (15 students Suva schools).
* March, 2013 Dudley Intermediate School (25 students U11 and U 12).
* April, 2013 Suva Methodist Primary School (32 students U9 and U10).
* May, 2013 Marcellin Primary School (35 students U9 and U10).
* September, 2013 LDS Primary School (36 students U9 - U12).
* November, 2013 CMF Primary School (26 students U11 and U12).
Each week we will be running parts of Tamani's The Way Forward for Kaji Rugby in this column.