The IRB Junior World Championship is a perfect pathway for young players to develop and learn as they enter their professional career. It gives them the platform to perform on the World stage, against the best from around the globe, to hone their skills and to become better players.
It also gives them a good grounding in making the correct moves – on both sides of the whitewash. For many of these young men, they are faced with choices that they are not used to as they begin to grow up in the spotlight.
Several players at this year’s JWC in New Zealand had the benefit of decision making workshops, held in conjunction with the International Rugby Players Association (IRPA). They were exposed to the “PUT” concept – “Perceive, Understand and Think Ahead” – three simple steps for young players to put in place before making decisions.
The concept was delivered to players by New Zealander Jason Whatuira, a former law enforcement official who has plenty of experience making quick and tough decisions.
“As Rugby players in the professional age, these players are exposed to a whole bunch of risks. We wanted to give them a working model for decision making that was simple and that they could apply in any aspect of their professional and personal lives, with the outcome of accentuating positive risk and mitigating negative risk.”
“The PUT concept is really just risk analysis but can be applied in any sphere. What we do off the field can impact on the field and vice versa, so making the right decisions is key.”
“Situational awareness is being conscious of your current situation, understanding what it means to you and thinking about how the decisions you make at that moment can impact on you now and in the future.”
Josh Blackie from IRPA said the course was of huge benefit to players at this year’s tournament.
"The talent on display at this year’s Junior World Championship has shown that Rugby continues to develop world class athletic performers,” said Blackie.
“With this in mind it is great to see that the game is being proactive in providing young elite players with off-field education and awareness programmes. The outcome will ensure we have strong ambassadors for the game's future both on and off the field."
Former Samoan international Seilala Mapusua was there to help the next generation of Samoan players at the tournament, and supported the "PUT" concept.
“A lot of these boys have just left high school and have been thrust into the public eye and you can’t really prepare for it.”
“We just want to give them as much tools and resources as possible to make those good decisions.”