This time last year no one in New Zealand could hand on heart be sure there would be a vibrant schools rugby scene in another 10 years.
The Herald had broken the story that St Kentigern College had been kicked out of the prestigious 1A First XV competition for excessive and aggressive poaching and in doing so, revealed that the win at all costs attitudes had pervaded unsustainably deep into schools rugby.
That story coincided with the release of a year-long research project into schools rugby which revealed what many already suspected, that playing numbers were declining sharply in that age group.
The reason why so many teenagers were walking away from the game was the surprise – it wasn't so much because they feared being hurt or couldn't get their heads around the complexity of the rules.
It was primarily because thousands of kids didn't believe the set-up catered for them. They just wanted to run around and have a bit of fun with their mates but so few schools provided that opportunity.
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The pervading ethos was to create winning teams and unearth superstar players. Most schools were streaming players into elite teams at the age of 13 and basically leaving those who they didn't think were capable of becoming the next Daniel Carter feeling like they should be ashamed at their lack of talent and/or desire to conquer the rugby world.
It was plain crazy – treating the most emotionally volatile generation of the last 100 years in such a pointless, cut-throat way.
No wonder the stats showed that around 50 per cent of teenagers playing at 13 won't still be involved with rugby at the age of 18.
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And no wonder the New Zealand Rugby has spent the last year re-thinking its plans to arrest the decline in playing numbers and why, last week, they revealed a range of initiatives for 2020 which they hope will keep more young people committed.
The plan next year is to allow junior grades to be more flexible with player numbers and scrum rules so fewer games are defaulted.
There will be more availability of non-contact rugby and separately but significantly, many provincial unions are moving away from picking junior representative teams which has been a divisive practice in the past.
All of this is to be applauded. All of this should help keep players in the game for longer and give New Zealand a wider playing base.
It has, then, in theory been a year of positive change. A year in which schools rugby has changed its likely future from unsustainable to sustainable: where the junior game has given itself a chance to get back to what matters and rid itself of the toxic culture that had been allowed to manifest.
But there is a big unknown in all this and that is whether parental attitudes can catch up and be as flexible as the national union?
Parents remain the number one problem in most high profile sports at a junior level. Sidelines are nasty places where tension is high and expectations unreal.
Kids just want to have fun but so many parents see that as a weakness or a plain silly concept. They don't want their kids to come happy, they want them to come home winners and this is why junior sport has become so toxic.
This is why so many kids don't want to play – because they are having to chase the dreams of a parent who can't or won't accept they are living vicariously through their child.
So the real change has to be made in homes across the country. Attitudes have to shift and parents, however much it might hurt them, have to realise that their child may in fact not be as good or as motivated as they want them to be.
Success is not cracking the big time, it is still playing rugby long after they leave school.
It's all good and well creating a blueprint for the schools game but ensuring what is actually delivered to participants lives up to that vision is not so easy to do.
It certainly won't be easy if parental communities dismiss the NZR's plan as new age nonsense and pressure clubs, schools and provincial unions to carry on as before and create a world of winners and losers.
It takes just one vocal parent to spoil it for everyone else and change the emphasis from having fun to playing to win and with it, a sense of dread and foreboding in those who really don't want to be put under pressure to conform to someone else's expectations.
So it has, in theory, been a good 12 months for junior rugby. A year in which genuine progress has been made in addressing the participation problems.
But it will take another 12 months to see whether it can be a success in practice.