Fine Gael Senator and keen sportsman, Neale Richmond, has called on Irish sports bodies such as the GAA, FAI and IRFU to follow the lead of UK counterparts who have introduced the Half Game Rule new rules to guarantee players at youth and social level at least a half of on pitch playing time.
“It is time for our sporting bodies to consider the Half Game Rule which has been implemented successfully internationally.
“For a young sportsman or woman, there is nothing worse than training hard and giving up a Saturday afternoon or a Wednesday evening to tog out for a match, only to find themselves sitting on the bench for the whole game or only getting a token run for the last five minutes.
“While of course there is tactical merit to this at an elite level, surely the same can’t be said for the social or underage levels, where the focus should really be about participation, inclusion and enjoyment.
“Players at all levels of sport regularly state that being part of the team is the most important thing to them. So pitch time is a major driver when it comes to player retention and enjoyment in sport.
“In the UK, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) intends to introduce the Half Game Rule in rugby from September 2019. This will ensure that all match day squad players get at least a half a game of pitch time. This has been successfully implemented in New Zealand and Wales over the past three years with really positive feedback and good results on player retention.
“Be it junior B hurling or J4 rugby, men and women are paying to play through match fees and subscriptions and they are also dedicating their free time and commitment to their club, ideally for the enjoyment of the sport and to keep fit.
“The least they should expect in return is a decent bit of pitch time. I am calling on our sports bodies to be proactive and look to introduce the Half Game rule.”