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EVOLUTION, NOT REVOLUTION

3 June 2021
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First XV rugby often engenders huge support but that is not a huge focus for NZR.

Campbell Burnes sits down with Callum McNair, NZR’s secondary schools rugby manager, a key position (pages 46-48):

If you read some of the headlines surrounding schools rugby in this country, you would think the entire model is broken beyond repair.

There is no doubt that the vexed issue of ‘poaching’ is an easy one to highlight, but First XV rugby is only a small part of the landscape. Schools rugby as a whole needs some TLC and this was highlighted in the comprehensive independent review carried out by former principals, and rugby men, Mike Leach and Peter Gall in 2018, the findings of which were made public in early 2019. In it were 31 recommendations.

This is where Callum McNair comes in. He is New Zealand Rugby’s secondary schools rugby manager, and assumed the role 2019, a position highlighted in the review.

McNair knows the scene, having worked for the North Harbour union and at Takapuna Grammar School as director of sport. Long-term he wants to be out of a job. Sounds kinda strange, but here’s why: “Long-term, my role wouldn’t exist because the school system is really clear and structures enable all those opportunities, provide equity for Maori and Pasifika, and keep 12-15 year-old boys engaged and playing rugby they way they want to play it,” he says…

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