NZ Rugby World - First XV - - CONTENTS - Gre­gor Paul, Editor

Welcome to our fourth but vastly dif­fer­ent spe­cial First XV is­sue. We have changed the for­mat this year to ac­knowl­edge that school­boy rugby has leapt the ITM Cup as a de­vel­op­ment com­pe­ti­tion.

Su­per Rugby teams are now re­cruit­ing di­rectly from First XV. The stan­dard is so high that more and more we will see play­ers turn out for the lead­ing schools one year and Su­per Rugby the next.

The speed of that tran­si­tion is such that we de­cided it would make sense if we worked in as­so­ci­a­tion with the New Zealand Rugby Play­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion to pro­duce what we hope is the ul­ti­mate guide to help­ing First XV play­ers pre­pare for a pos­si­ble pro­fes­sional ca­reer.

The re­al­ity is that any­thing from 20-40 boys play­ing First XV this year will be of­fered a con­tract to play semi-pro­fes­sion­ally or in some cases, pro­fes­sion­ally, next year.

Take Chiefs first-five Damian McKen­zie as an ex­am­ple. He cap­tained Christ’s Col­lege in 2013, played su­perbly for Waikato in 2014 and then made a pol­ished de­but for the Chiefs in 2015.

Rieko Ioane is another: a week be­fore the Top 4 semi­fi­nal last year, he was of­fered a full con­tract with the Blues to start in 2016. Barely three months af­ter leav­ing Auck­land Gram­mar, he was star­ring at the Welling­ton Sev­ens for New Zealand.

A ca­reer can take off sud­denly and boys and par­ents need to be pre­pared if they do. The NZRPA have hired for­mer All Black Kevin Se­nio to work di­rectly with schools and their pupils to of­fer in­valu­able prac­ti­cal ad­vice on how best to pur­sue a pro­fes­sional rugby ca­reer.

Much of that ad­vice is in this pub­li­ca­tion and it would be a good idea to put this mag­a­zine some­where safe and use it as a ref­er­ence guide through­out the sea­son and be­yond. In case, for some in­ex­pli­ca­ble rea­son, any­one is con­fused by the core mes­sages the NZRPA are ty­ing to get across – let’s sum­marise right here.

What­ever your am­bi­tion or like­li­hood of be­com­ing a pro­fes­sional – take your ed­u­ca­tion se­ri­ously and make plans to con­tinue it be­yond school. That’s the most rock solid piece of ad­vice any young player can take on board. World Player of the Year 2013, Kieran Read will con­firm that for any­one who asks. Read is en­rolled at the Univer­sity of Can­ter­bury as he feels the study not only helps him now – by pro­vid­ing an al­ter­na­tive and chal­leng­ing fo­cus – but will also leave him bet­ter pre­pared for the day he can no longer make a liv­ing play­ing.

Good ad­vice is im­per­a­tive so find a rep­utable, ac­cred­ited and ex­pe­ri­enced player agent. These guys know what they are do­ing and they don’t wheel and deal and just clip the ticket. The best agents here of­fer holis­tic ca­reer ad­vice, fi­nan­cial plan­ning and brand de­vel­op­ment.

Take con­cus­sion se­ri­ously. Play hard and be hard – but if you take a knock to the head, it’s not hard to play on – it is dan­ger­ous and ul­ti­mately stupid. Don’t do it – fol­low the steps given in our safety sec­tion.

And be ul­tra care­ful about tak­ing sup­ple­ments. There are so many bo­gus and illegal prod­ucts out there promis­ing mir­a­cles. Re­mem­ber, if some­thing seems too good to be true, it is most likely be­cause it’s not true. If in doubt – walk away, don’t take any­thing you are un­sure about. Ig­no­rance is no de­fence in the eyes of the law.

Lastly, NZ Rugby World would like to ac­knowl­edge and thank Land Rover for the in­vest­ment they have made in not only this pub­li­ca­tion, but First XV rugby in gen­eral. The game needs cor­po­rate back­ers and Land Rover have been a crit­i­cal part in help­ing First XV in New Zealand make such a big foot­print.

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