Following feedback both directly and indirectly since last week’s launch of the 2023 UK Tag Nationals we wanted to take the opportunity to clarify certain decisions that were made about next year’s tournament and to update players on changes made to the nomination period. To help organise the information we wish to communicate we have used some of the suggestions fed back to us over the last week.
While we appreciate that there was a degree of frustration communicated through some of the feedback we take it as a positive that after only four tournaments, the UK Tag Nationals has captured our community’s passion so deeply.
Some of the comments focussed on an apparent lack of development of the tournament so we think it worthwhile to highlight the significant progress made to the tournament over the last few years.
- First UK Tag Nationals
- Nine Mixed teams representing nine TTR regions
- Women’s and Men’s categories introduced alongside Mixed
- 23 teams took part representing 10 different regions
- Live streaming of main pitch introduced
- Regions encouraged to hold trials with most doing so
- Match officials selected from across the regions
- Introduction of regional names to develop greater regional identity and better capture the spirit of each region with kit designs stemming from them
- Tournament streamed in partnership with the RFL and 247.tv for the first time and broadcast on RFL’s OurLeague App as well as TTR social media
- All regions held selection trials and an increased number held multiple training sessions
- Regions allowed to enter more than one team in a category where there were sufficient playing standards
- Invitational team introduced to take tournament to 32 teams
- Official team photos
- Introduction of the Men’s 40s category with seven regions participating
- First tournament to take place outside of London, contributing to the national vision for the event
- Kit design moved to a biennial model
- Move to early summer date to allow players to be closer to their peak than at the end of a long summer of tag
- For the first time a try from the tournament is included in the RFL’s try of the week
- Regional hoodies introduced in response to demand for off-field wear
- 41 teams participated
- Regional tournaments to be run for non-London teams to provide better preparation for the main tournament
- Transition to a six month training programme in response to feedback from regions
- Increased size of training squad up from 12 to 16 players meaning a forecasted 672 players involved and exposed to high level coaching and competition compared to last year’s 492, a 37% increase
- Full international rules to be used, including diving
- Sheffield running teams separate from Yorkshire for the first time
- Edinburgh North entering for the first time
- Men’s 40s category expected to expand to cover the vast majority of regions
Q: Can there be a longer time period between nominations closing and squads being selected to allow more time for trials?
A: We were aware that the time period between announcement and selection was tight but the plan was for previous coaches to be contacted alongside the announcement with interest from prospective coaches to be obtained. However, we apologise to any returning coaches for the lack of notification that the tournament would be going live.
Working backward from the planned tournament date in early May to factor in selection of the final 12 players, the regional tournaments, kit production and delivery, extended training time for all regions and the squad announcement meant time was limited. This had ultimately pushed the nomination closing date forward into mid-November.
We appreciate that appointing new coaches and organising trials in this time period is proving a significant challenge and so we have managed to squeeze the later timeline to extend the nomination period by two weeks. The following dates will now apply:
Nomination Deadline: 12pm Friday 25th November
UK Tag Nationals Training Squads Announced: Thursday 1st December
Sponsorship Deadline: Friday 2nd December
Kit Payment Deadline*: 12pm Monday 5th December
Only the kit costs will be payable by this date. Further details below.
Q: Can Nationals switch to a two-tier structure to allow larger regions to field elite and development teams?
A: This was one of the areas discussed in most depth following the 2022 tournament with a number of regions having entered multiple teams in a single category. After feedback from all regions was taken into consideration it was felt that this would currently be favourable for South London and potentially East London but not for other regions.
Dividing the existing regions into two categories would deny those regions in the second tier the opportunity to test and better themselves against the top teams which would take away from the essence of the tournament.
This is however part of the long term vision for the tournament and the regional tournaments taking place in the spring are the first step in this direction. Newer regions will have the opportunity to play in these regionals before competing at Nationals which will itself move toward a tiered structure when there are a majority of regions who would benefit from that structure.
Q: Why can’t we keep the 2021/22 kit for 2023?
A: Ahead of the 2022 tournament the decision was made to move to a biennial kit cycle whereby the 2021 kit was used again in 2022 before being replaced for a new kit that would be used in 2023 and 2024.
We moved to this model to reduce costs for returning players and to be more sustainable in our production of kits. While we appreciate the arguments that this cycle could be increased we also know that players wear their Nationals kits in leagues and tournaments. As such a kit that is used for more than two years is likely to look a little tired by its third tournament. With the UK Tag Nationals being our premier domestic tournament and streamed across social media and the RFL’s OurLeague App it is important to have teams in kits that look smart and up to date and therefore the two year cycle will be retained.
The £30 cost for the kit is a significantly subsidised price that is below breaking even. It also provides a uniform price for all players regardless of the items they choose. The cost is slightly higher compared to 2022 but this is purely due to increased production costs and inflation.
Q: Can Nationals expand to a broader, year round development strategy?
A: The nomination process taking place a full six months before the tournament allows the players selected in the training squads a far longer period to prepare for Nationals itself, while being exposed to high quality coaching throughout that period.
The summer seasons, traditionally Try Tag Rugby’s peak period for new players joining, then provides an opportunity for players not involved in the previous year’s setup to showcase their emerging talents throughout our leagues and tournaments ahead of the following autumn’s nomination window.
Q: Shouldn’t managers and coaches have been confirmed pre-registration?
A: All regional managers had been appointed before nominations were opened. Coaching positions have always been confirmed annually and given that coaching talent develops and emerges in a similar manner to playing talent it is an important part of the process to provide aspiring new coaches the opportunity to put themselves forward as part of the nomination process.
Q: Can there be greater transparency around tournament planning, changes and timelines?
A: This is an area that we will continue to work on. Developments were made to the 2023 tournament based on constructive feedback meetings and emails following the 2022 tournament and these fed into the planning for 2023. However going forward we will aim to share the proposed changes and developments once the feedback process has concluded.
Q: Why are the payment deadlines set on the dates that have been announced?
A: A lack of clarity was provided in the launch article for the tournament around what needed to be paid when and by whom and we apologise for this. The following payment deadlines will be in place:
Kit Payment Deadline: 12pm Monday 5th December (£30 – this is payable by all 16 players selected in each side, and needs to be paid before production begins to ensure all costs are covered)
Tournament Registration Payment Deadline: 12pm Monday 10th April (£25 – this is payable only by the final tournament 12 selected by each side)
Q: Can there be more categories to reflect current and future Great Britain categories
A: The categories at the UK Tag Nationals are reviewed annually. We have added new categories in two of the four years that the tournament has taken place. The decision not to add any new categories this year was data driven and to allow us to focus on developing other areas before expanding the tournament’s size again. As the tournament continues to grow we will add further categories. These will align with, and feed into, existing and future GB categories.
Q: Can regions select referees and have them involved in regional training sessions
A: Referees for the UK Tag Nationals and international duty are now selected through a development programme that trains and develops them for the elite standard of the game. Involving them at regional training is certainly something that we will encourage as part of their ongoing development.
Q: Why isn’t Nationals into two tournaments; one for Mixed and one for Women’s and Men’s
A: This suggestion has been made on multiple occasions and unfortunately runs entirely contrary to the majority of coaches’ stated aims to increase the size of the player pool exposed to Nationals level tag. Running the tournament in this manner would allow players of a certain standard to play both mixed and single gender which, while positive for the individual player, takes away opportunities for players who would otherwise play with the tournament as it currently is.
Part of TTR’s review of tournaments for 2023 will focus on the demand for a women’s and men’s tournament and we hope to add one back into the calendar. However it will not be at the expense of the existing structure of Nationals.
Q: Can you increase streaming so all regions have access to video analysis for all games?
A: As the tournament grows we will continue to increase match recording and streaming as finances allow to reflect the prestige of the tournament.
Q: Can there be a steering group of coaches who are in post year round?
A: The increased time period for coaching running into the tournament is designed in part to turn the UK Tag Nationals into more of a year round competition rather than a few focused months in the spring and early summer. Going forward this may allow certain successful coaches to be confirmed in post for subsequent years following iterations of the tournament, providing them with the opportunity to give players ongoing feedback year round.
Q: Why isn’t Nationals a series of tournaments that take place throughout the year?
A: This significant change to the UK Tag Nationals is reviewed after each tournament. There are notable benefits to it however it currently remains too large a step change in terms of logistics and the commitment it would require from players and volunteer coaches, many of whom are also involved in the Great Britain programme. With the current arrangement Nationals starts following the conclusion of the international season and reaches its peak shortly into the new international season, preparing players for Great Britain duty.
Q: Why don’t you prioritise the highest level matches for Pitch 1 streaming since this should contain the best content for marketing purposes?
A: A balance has to be struck between simply scheduling the top seeded regions to play on Pitch 1 and ensuring that all players and regions have an opportunity for exposure. One of the tries of the tournament last year was by Alexandra Simpson in the Wigan v Manchester Mixed pool game, a match that would not have been streamed were seedings the sole factor in which games were chosen. The Olympics, amongst many other sporting events, stream smaller sports, earlier heats and lower ranked athletes for a reason – all are worthy of their opportunity to shine on the top stage.
We genuinely welcome ideas and constructive feedback about our leagues, tournaments, social events or anything else related to Try Tag Rugby. The best place for this feedback is via the contact form on our website so as we can ensure that your message reaches the right person or people at Try Tag Rugby https://trytagrugby.com/contact/.
There was some concern that comments had been deleted from the original post. Try Tag Rugby deleted a single comment that provided no constructive feedback in any manner. Another comment was deleted by the author, not Try Tag Rugby.