Andy Dunne says burnout is an issue with school players

Former Leinster player Andy Dunne believes young players in this country need to be nurtured in a balanced environment.

BY Niall McGrath 17:55 Tuesday 2 January 2018, 17:55 2 Jan 2018

Image: ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Andy Dunne joined this morning’s OTB AM to discuss the issue of parenting and development of rugby in the country.

The conversation was a talking point after Vincent Hogan spoke on the Sunday Paper Review about Brendan Fanning’s piece in the Sunday Independent.

"Well, I think there’s a balance between ‘everybody is a winner' and 'everybody gets a medal'," Dunne explained. "I don’t think that’s the route to go, either. I think a kid needs to know how to lose, and how to win, but not at the expense of skill development.”

Dunne says his experience from coaching at club level has led him to notice a trend in which players finishing the school system in Leinster suffer burnout from the physical and mental strain.

"What seems to be coming out of school system at the moment is either: A) the finished article, or B) I never want to see another rugby ball again," Dunne said.

"So, at a club level, we’re coaching amateur guys at 18 and 19. We have guys coming to us, six months out of the game, saying that they need a break from the game. It is quite a shock to hear a 19-year-old say that.”

The former Leinster player said the burnout might be related to the influence of parents pushing their children to reach unattainable heights on the sports field.

"There are plenty of parents who have the nous and smarts on how to raise their children in a practical way too, in terms of sport.”

The Castleknock man says the physicality of the game is not the only attribute young players must have, however. The mental drive and determination to make it to the highest level must be there, regardless of how hard the parents push them to improve and work on their physical preparation.

"From a rugby point of view, it’s becoming such a physical game, so challenging," Dunne said. "If only the parents want the child to get through, it’s not going to happen. It takes a hell of a lot of drive to be successful in rugby, just purely from a physical point of view."

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