REGULATION 15 – AGE GRADE RUGBY
15.1.1 This Regulation 15 relates to youth rugby known as Age Grade rugby from the Under 6
(U6) to Under 18 (U18) age groups.
15.1.2 This Regulation 15 applies to both genders up to and including U12s, from which point
there are specific regulations applicable to girls’ rugby for the U13 to U18 age grades
which are set out in Regulation 15.5 below. Regulation 15.5 overrides all others in
relation to girls’ rugby between U13 and U18.
15.1.3 This Regulation 15 relates to training, matches and all variations of rugby permitted within
the relevant age grade.
15.1.4 This Regulation is supported by the Guidance document set out at [insert link] that sets
out best practice principles and the RFU Safeguarding Policy [insert link].
15.2 Determining a player’s Age Grade
15.2.1 A player’s age grade is determined by their age at midnight on 31st August at the
beginning of each Season and that age grade applies for the whole season. At England
U17 and U18 elite level only the player’s age grade is determined by their age at midnight
on 31st December of that Season.
15.2.2 Players must only play contact rugby with players of their own age grade unless the
player is permitted to play outside their age grade as set out in Regulations 15.3 to 15.5.
An assessment should be carried out to assess whether a player should be permitted to
play outside their age grade. Best practice as to how to carry out an assessment is set
out in the Guidance [insert link].
15.3 Playing with other age grades
15.3.1 Players who are in the U6 age grade (but not U5s or below) are permitted to train with
U7s and U8s. A player in the U6 age grade or below is not permitted to participate in
fixtures or festivals with U7s and U8s until they have reached the age of six. Players
under the age of six are not permitted to participate in any types of fixtures, matches,
competitions, tournaments or festivals.
15.3.2 U7s and U8s can train and play together in fixtures and festivals.
15.3.3 The following age grades are permitted to participate together in contact rugby training
(which includes playing contact internal training matches):
(a) U9s with U10s; and
(b) U11s with U12s.
15.3.4 In respect of Schools and Clubs with an insufficient number of players, U9s can train and play with U10s, and U11s can train and play with U12s, in fixtures and festivals subject to satisfying the following conditions:
(a) the School or Club does not have a sufficient number of players to make up a team in the single age grade;
(b) the School’s CSU or the Club’s Constituent Body provides written approval (such approval to be valid for up to one season only);
(c) No more than half the players on the pitch at any time should be from the older age grade; and
(d) The team plays to the rules of the younger age grade.
15.3.5 U12s to U15s can train and play up one age grade provided that:
(a) in respect of club rugby, consent is obtained from the parents, guardians or carers of the player; (b) in respect of schools’ rugby, consent is obtained from the School’s Head Teacher; and
(c) in each case an appropriate assessment is carried out.
Best practice on carrying out an appropriate assessment is set out in the Guidance.
15.3.6 U16s and U17s can train and play up one age grade (including in the front row of the scrum) or two age grades (but not including in the front row of contested scrums if an U16 player is playing 15 a-side rugby) provided that:
(a) in respect of club rugby, consent is obtained from the parents, guardians or carers of the player; (b) in respect of schools’ rugby, consent is obtained from the School’s Head Teacher;
(c) the parent, guardian, carer or the School’s Head Teacher (as applicable) is informed that it is possible that this dispensation may result in the player playing with and/or against one or more U19 players who are playing down in accordance with Regulation 15.4.3; and
(d) an appropriate assessment is carried out.
Best practice on carrying out an appropriate assessment is set out in the Guidance.
15.3.7 A player can play adult contact rugby, or train with other adults in contact rugby, when they reach their seventeenth birthday provided:
(a) they have been assessed as capable of playing with adults;
(b) the RFU’s Playing Adult Rugby Form has been duly completed and signed; and
(c) the player does not train or play in the front row of the scrum.
15.3.8 In respect of England Academy Players:
(a) an U16 England Academy Player can play up two age grades in the front row of the scrum provided that in each case the prior written consent of the RFU Elite Player Development Manager is obtained;
(b) a 16 year old England Academy Player can play adult contact rugby, or train with other adults in contact rugby, if the written approval of the RFU Elite Player Development Manager has been obtained;
(c) a 17 year old England Academy Player can play adult rugby and train with adults in the front row of the scrum if the written approval of the RFU Elite Player Development Manager has been obtained. Such consent may be given for playing or training.
15.4 Restrictions on Playing Down
15.4.1 In respect of any fixtures and festivals, the Club or School must inform the match officials, organisers and the opposing team of all players playing down an age grade.
15.4.2 If a player is permitted to play down as set out in these Regulations, that permission is valid for up to one Season only and the player must remain in that lower age grade for the entire Season.
15.4.3 U9s to U19s (inclusive) can only train and play down one age grade in exceptional circumstances (and subject to competition rules) if:
(a) the player is in a younger academic year at school than the player’s academic birth year; or
(b) the player’s safety may be compromised due to their small stature in comparison to other players in the same age grade or due to a developmental or behavioural issue: provided that in each case:
(a) an assessment is carried out.
Best practice as to how to carry out an assessment is set out in the Guidance;
(b) for U12s and below, the Club’s Constituent Body’s or, in respect of schools’ rugby, the School’s Head Teacher’s approval is obtained;
(c) for U13 and above, the player’s parent or guardian or, in respect of schools’ rugby, the School’s Head Teacher’s approval is obtained; and
(d) if consent is given, the Club or School must notify the opposing teams within a reasonable period of time in advance of the game.
15.4.4 U9s to U19s can only train and play down two or more age grades in exceptional circumstances and only with the written approval of the RFU Legal and Governance Director to whom application must be made. Any requests for approval must be accompanied by such documentary evidence and/or signed statements as may be necessary or requested by the RFU Legal and Governance Director.
15.5 Girls’ Rugby
15.5.1 The U13 girls’ age band is permitted to include U11s, U12s and U13s girls. For the 2012-13 Season any female players aged U13 and registered as an U12 player on Rugby First in 2011-12 Season can apply for dispensation to play within the U15 age band by contacting the Competitions Executive responsible for Women’s Rugby.
15.5.2 The U15 girls’ age band is permitted to include U14s and U15s.
15.5.3 The U18 girls’ age band is permitted to include U16s, U17s and U18s.
15.5.4 Players who are aged 17 may play adult rugby and train with other adults as part of the RFU’s Women’s Elite Rugby programme where the RFU Head of Performance (Women) has given specific consent. Such consent may be given for playing or training.
15.5.5 From their 18th birthday players may elect to register as a senior player and may participate in senior training sessions and matches as well as U18 sessions and matches. It is recommended that players do not play more than one match a week to avoid injury and player burnout. It is expected that coaches involved should pro-actively communicate on the development of an appropriate competition plan for 18 year old
players to ensure their duty of care responsibilities are fulfilled.
15.5.6 Match day requirements specific to girls rugby are set out in Appendix 3.
15.6.1 In Age Grade rugby the Season shall be: Season 2012-2013 will run from Saturday 25th August 2012 until Monday 6th May 2013 (inclusive) Season 2013-2014 will run from Saturday 31st August 2013 until Monday 5th May 2014 (inclusive)
15.6.2 During the Season, U5s and U6s can participate in training but can only play in fixtures and festivals when they reach the age of 6 years old, as permitted in Regulation 15.3.1. Outside of the Season, U5s and U6s can participate in the Pre-Approved Activity.
15.6.3 During the Season, U7s to U12s can participate in training only until the first Saturday in October and from the first Sunday in October can participate in training, fixtures and festivals. Outside of the Season, U7s to U12s can participate in the Pre-Approved Activity.
15.6.4 During the Season, U13s to U18s can participate in training, fixtures and festivals. Outside of the Season, U13s to U18s can participate in the Pre-Approved Activity.
15.6.5 For the purposes of this Regulation, “Pre-Approved Activity” means:
(a) for all age grades: (i) rugby based non-contact training and non-contact invasion games (where one teams invades another’s territory) that develops and supports fundamental movement and core skills, examples of which are set out in the guidance.
(ii) internal matches that form part of a Club’s genuine recruitment initiative; (iii) summer camps are permitted provided they comply with the requirements set out in RFU Regulation 15.8; and
(iv) Schools Games Events.
(b) for U8s the tag to tackle training resource available from the RFU;
(c) for U9s to U18s: (i) contact training; and
(ii) non-contact versions of rugby including tag and touch, further detail of which is set out in the Guidance;
(d) for U13s to U18s: (i) in the two weeks immediately prior to the start of the Season, pre-season matches, festivals and skills revision training, guidance on which can be
(ii) in the three weeks immediately following the end of the Season, matches that were abandoned or postponed due to adverse weather conditions; (iii) seven a-side contact rugby; and
(iv) up until the end of May, noncompetitive exhibition games forming part of a national showcase in advance of a national game.
15.6.6 Overseas Tours and Trials are exempt from this Regulation.
15.7 Non-contact Rugby
All U7 to U18 players of both sexes may train and play together in non-competitive noncontact rugby provided that: (a) the organiser and/or coach has assessed the session and/or match to be safe for all players; (b) under no circumstances is any element of contact rugby permitted and the training session and/or match should be conducted in accordance with the best practice principles set out in the Guidance.
15.8 Summer Camps
Summer camps are permitted for all age grades provided that:
(a) the summer camps and its activity programme are run in accordance with the guidelines set out in the Guidance;
(b) the Constituent Body in which the summer camp is located is notified of the proposed summer camp in advance;
(c) any proposed activity falling outside the guidelines is approved in writing by the Constituent Body; and (d) Regulation 15 is complied with.
15.9 Festivals and Fixtures
15.9.1 Festivals, fixtures and competitions may be played at any time during the Season provided the School’s CSU or the Club’s Constituent Body gives its written approval.
Out of Season
15.9.2 U6s to U18s may only play in festivals or fixtures outside the Season provided that:
(a) the festival or fixture is classified as a “Pre-Approved Activity”; and
(b) the hosting Constituent Body has given written approval.
15.9.3 All festivals and fixtures that do not fall within the definition of “Pre-Approved Activity” are not permitted out of season unless the written consent of the RFU Legal and Governance Director is obtained.
15.9.4 National Schools’ Festivals may only take place provided the written approval of ERSFU (and the hosting Constituent Body is notified) is obtained. Applications must be made in good time.
15.9.5 National Clubs’ Festivals may only take place provided the written approval of the RFU Legal and Governance Director is obtained (and the hosting Constituent Body is notified). Applications must be made in good time.
Note: For the purposes of Regulations 15.9.4 and 15.9.5 above a Festival is considered to be “National” if participating Clubs or Schools are drawn from more than just neighbouring Constituent Bodies and there are more than six entrants.
Age Grade rugby tours are subject to the requirements set out in Regulation 10 and should be conducted in accordance with the best practice outlined in the Tour Policy
15.11 Rules of Play
15.11.1 Players and match officials must comply with the IRB Laws of the Games, subject to any permitted Law Variations set out in Appendices 1, 2 and 3.
15.11.2 Rules of Play for U7-U12 rugby are set out in Appendix 1.
15.11.3 Rules of Play for U13-U19 are set out in Appendix 2.
15.11.4 Rules of Play for Girls’ age bands U13 – U18 are set out in Appendix 3.
15.11.5 Rules of Play for non-contact rugby matches are set out in [insert link to IRB Regulations].
15.12 Pitch and Ball Size
15.12.1 The maximum pitch and ball sizes are:
Age grade Pitch size (metres) Ball size
Under 7 and Under 8 60 x 30 + 5m for ingoal area 3
Under 9 60 x 35 + 5m for ingoal areas 3
Under 10 60 x 35 + 5m for ingoal areas 4
Under 11 and Under 12 60 x 43 + 5m for ingoal areas* 4
U13-U14 See IRB Law 1 4
U15-U18 See IRB Law 1 5
U13 60 x 35 + 5m for ingoal areas 4
U15 See IRB Law 1 4
U18 See IRB Law 1 5
* = Provision should be made to indicate the position of the line 15 metres out from each goal line, serving a similar purpose to the 22 metre line in the IRB Laws of the Game.
15.12.2 Reduced pitch sizes are acceptable if agreed between the referee and coaches, and the smaller pitches are risk assessed.
15.12.3 Adjacent pitches should be no closer than 5 metres.
15.13.1 Players studs and clothing during training and matches must comply with IRB Regulatory requirements (including IRB Law 4 and IRB Regulation 12)
15.13.2 Age grade players are permitted to wear base layers provided they comply with the IRB
15.13.3 Players in age grades U7 to U8 only may wear specially designed and manufactured
“goggles” provided the player’s optician certifies that:
(a) They only allow the player to have properly corrected vision and do not substantially restrict any normal field of vision; and
(b) They do not constitute a physical danger to the wearer or other players.
Note: The RFU has applied to the IRB for a dispensation to permit U7s to U12s to wear goggles and the RFU hopes to be granted this approval in advance of next Season.
15.14 Duration of Matches, coaching and training sessions
15.14.1 All players, match officials and clubs must ensure that no player plays more than 35 matches per Season and plays no more than 90 minutes of match time in a forty-eight hour period.
15.14.2 The table below details the maximum playing times that must be adhered to:
“*” = Means only for 15-a-side and 7s on a given day
Further guidance as playing times and durations for single fixtures, festivals, tournaments and coaching and training sessions are set out in the Guidance document.
15.15 Player Eligibility and Player Registration
15.15.1 Each Club must ensure all its Age Grade players complete the RFU Youth Player Registration Form and are registered on the RFU’s data system within 45 days of their first joining the Club.
15.15.2 Constituent Bodies and/or event organisers may require Registration cards and copies of any special dispensations issued to be taken to each Club match or festival. Team managers must produce these documents for inspection by the opposition or match officials if requested.
Single Fixtures Festivals or Tournaments
Age Grade Each half (mins) Total playing Time Minutes for each half Maximum Games per day Total Playing Time per festival/tournament
U7 & U8 10 20 5 5 50
U9 & U10 15 30 6 5 60
U11 & U12 20 40 7 5 70
U13 & U14 25 50 10 4 80
U15 30 60 9 5 90
U16+ 35 70 9 5 90
No extra time is permitted in any match except that added for injury time.
15.15.3 A player may qualify to represent an Age Grade representative team in a Constituent Body for that season if he meets one of the following criteria:
(a) he/she attends a School affiliated to that Constituent Body;
(b) he/she resides in that Constituent Body for any part of that season;
(c) he/she was born in that Constituent Body;
(d) he/she is a registered playing member of a Club affiliated to that Constituent Body;
(e) he/she played for that Constituent Body in a representative fixture the previous season.
15.15.4 Membership of a Constituent Body’s School of Rugby or an Academy does not entitle a player to play for that Constituent Body if he does not satisfy one of the previous criteria.
15.15.5 Where a player has not been selected for a Constituent Body the Divisional Chairman of Selectors may allow him to play for another Constituent Body for which he is not qualified if it is in the interests of the player’s development.
Disciplinary matters relating to Age Grade rugby shall follow the procedures set out in
Appendix 6 of RFU Regulation 19.