English youth rugby’s obsession with size stunts the progress of talent | Robert Kitson

Replying to our article last week, Mike Umaga questions why his son Jacob was artificially bulked up and laments how skill can be treated in the junior ranks

Last week we highlighted the problem of England’s wasted rugby youth and wondered if the topic might chime with a few people. The ensuing days have been revealing and hugely instructive: messages have cascaded in from former internationals, from schoolboy coaches and from concerned parents alike, many raising more stark questions for those in charge of developing young players.

No one disputes there are good coaches or is suggesting the academies and the Rugby Football Union get everything wrong. Consider, however, the testimony of Mike Umaga, whose son Jacob is among the brightest young English playmaking talents. Mike’s younger brother, Tana, captained the All Blacks, while the elder sibling won 13 caps for Samoa, played professional league and union and has been coaching in England for two decades. And his verdict? Even some of the best English youngsters are succeeding in spite of the system rather than as a product of it.

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