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New Zealand rugby
Police to vet kids' rugby coaches
March 6, 2013
Edinburgh's Dave Denton teaches a child some skills, St Andrews University, Scotland, August 7, 2012
The NZRU says the safety and welfare of children and young people involved in rugby is paramount. © PA Photos
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Teams: New Zealand

The New Zealand Rugby Union will make it compulsory for coaches and referees of junior rugby to undergo police checks this season. The union made the announcement at the launch of its $16.5 million, three-year community plan in Auckland on Wednesday.

"We're ... implementing mandatory police vetting for all Small Blacks coaches," Brent Anderson, general manager community rugby and provincial unions, said in a statement.

The union's Small Blacks programme covers those aged under 13 and it says referees will also need to be vetted.

It says the safety and welfare of children and young people involved in rugby is paramount. In addition to the police checks to be brought in this year, the union is also encouraging better sideline behaviour after a number of ugly incidents in recent years, including a charter and code of conduct for clubs and schools.

The union will spend $5.6m a year on the strategy, an increase of $500,000 on 2012, and it aims to make rugby the sport of choice in Auckland and more funding for secondary schools.

It says the number of teenagers playing rugby is in decline and it wants to address that.

"We've been out talking with teenagers to better understand their challenges and as part of our strategy have increased the focus on working with secondary schools as crucial to retaining teens in rugby," Anderson said.

© AAP
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