There was no fairytale finish for Munster great Paul O'Connell as Glasgow Warriors triumphed 31-13 in Belfast to become the first Scottish winners of the GUINNESS PRO12.
An extensive process of discussion and consultation between world-renowned developmental expert Dr. Istvan Balyi, the National Coaching and Training Centre, and the IRFU Coach Development department, provided the impetus for the design of this Long Term Player Development Model. The collective intention is to provide the best possible rugby experience for all participants "from 6 to 6 Nations". The LTPD framework will help to ensure that the experience of training and playing the game is always appropriate for the developmental stage of the player involved.
The model is a Player-Centred one, in that the specific characteristics pertaining to each stage are based on the particular capacities of players at each stage of development.
The nature of rugby union required a close examination of the demands of the game itself at each stage, as well as the capacities of players. This analysis, coupled with extensive validation from coaches "on the ground" at all levels, resulted in the establishment of Player Capacities across 5 specific areas: Technical, Tactical, Physical, Mental and Lifestyle.
These player capacities provide the compass by which the IRFU's Coach Development Department designs and promotes rugby coaching courses at all levels, believing that all coaches should be appropriately trained and qualified to work with players at each stage in the Model.
An integral aspect of the LTPD model is the "essence" of Player, Game and Coach at each stage - this single word summation of the characteristics of these three components throughout the stages acts as a guideline to all participants.
It is important to remember that the L.T.P.D. model is not intended to be a production line of world-class players but rather an integrated series of stages (based on scientific principles and participant experience) to maximise the potential of players according to their own ability and ambition. Ultimately of course, the successful establishment and maintenance of a long-term programme of development will be essential to that small number of players with the talent and aspiration to become elite performers.
The true effectiveness of the Irish Rugby Union's LTPD programme will be evidenced by its integration into all of our structures and systems and by the rewarding experiences of players, coaches, parents, referees, supporters and administrators of the game.
Coach Development Department, Irish Rugby Football Union, 2006