Rugby: Time to change, insists All Blacks coaching great Sir Graham Henry

Sir Graham Henry insists rugby needs to change with the times to stop young talent from leaving the game. 

The 2011 World Cup-winning coach claims, although the professional game is in a strong place, more needs to be done around the safety to keep it attractive to younger players at the grassroots level. 

"I think kids who leave secondary school - and if they are smallish - won’t feel so intimidated by continuing in the game [in the U85kg grade]," Henry says. "They are not playing against monsters. 

"They still have their careers, trades, professions or whatever, and they are enjoying each other's company on Saturday and playing a bit of footy.

"I just see it as a massive opportunity to go grow the game."

One idea Henry favours is the U85kg grade something that could not only promote safety within the sport, but also a place for younger players to develop their skills, before taking their game to the next level. 

"There could be a change of rules, weights, numbers and times," Henry says. "I would like to think all the provinces have a good think-tank about what is best for their area, to get kids playing the game, whether it is Rippa Rugby, sevens, tens or the U85kg grade." 

Smaller players are not just found at the grassroots level. In the latest All Blacks squad, inside backs, Aaron Smith, Brad Weber and Richie Mo’unga are all listed at less than 85kg. Fullback Damian McKenzie weighs about 78kg.

Rugby has been around since 1823, when it was created by William Webb Ellis, and Henry feels it's time to change and moves away from its traditional format. 

"I think the game is controlled by people who are very traditional and want to keep doing what we have done for the last 100 years," Henry adds.

"That is clearly not working, we need to change."