John Sheppard - County Safeguarding Officer and Dawn Rathmell the Mini-Junior Secretary along with the YRFU Mini/Junior Committee, have the responsibility for ensuring that all clubs in membership of the Yorkshire RFU Constituent Body are aware of the Regulations and Guidance, issued by the RFU and set out annually in the Handbook, and abide by them. Many of the Regulations and the Guidance that accompanies them are part of the Child Safeguarding Policy.
We are responsible for addressing breaches of the policy. Since John's appointment to the role of Constituent Body Safeguarding Manager two seasons ago he has been in regular contact with Clubs explaining the policy, clarifying regulations, explaining the implications in detail and supporting clubs to manage their responsibilities. His initial concerns were to make sure that every club with a junior section has a Club Safeguarding Officer in place and a Club Safeguarding Policy (as required by the regulations). His next focus was to ensure that all coaches and adults working with young people had completed the enhanced RFU CRB disclosure required by the regulations. Compliance is still not complete but greatly improved.
His third focus in the season 2008-09 was to ensure that all players were registered as required by the regulations; that they played in the correct age grade as defined by the regulations and that any dispensations were properly granted and recorded. All clubs were regularly informed about these issues through their Club Safeguarding Officer and guidance was issued which many clubs found helpful.
However, during the early part of the season 2009-10 there were a series of incidents involving young players which revealed that too many clubs were still failing to register their players; over-age players were still being allowed to play down; teams were being banded into age bands that were not allowed by the regulations, and dispensations were not being properly managed. Whilst dealing with one serious incident we were forcibly reminded by a representative of Marsh the RFU insurers that players, officials and coaches were only covered by this insurance when they were compliant with the regulations - if they breached the regulations then they could find themselves without insurance cover. Serious breaches could lead to insurance cover being withdrawn from the whole club- including the senior sides.
After lengthy debate and discussion at meetings which were attended by District Representatives who have a responsibility to report back to their district clubs, with minutes being taken and circulated; and then the proceedings being reported to the Yorkshire Council which is attended by more District representatives reporting back to their District committees, a decision was taken in January 2010 that from 01 September 2010 - the start of the next season and over eight months ahead, all players would need to be registered and produce ID cards at all games.
The RFU then decided to take stock of those players registered on Rugby First and requested that clubs re-register their players by placing a tick by their names to state they were still active at the club.
Clubs were initially given until 1st October to complete this and the notification was sent out in a letter along with the RFU handbook which is sent to Senior Secretary's and caused some confusion. Thus we extended the date by which players MUST have their ID cards to 3rd October 2010. Any player not having an ID on and after this date will not be able to play until their ID card is in place. Although the RFU have now extended the re-registration process until 22nd October it WILL NOT AFFECT THE RULING THAT AS OF 3rd OCTOBER NO CARD NO PLAY.
Upon re-registration the player keeps the same Registration number so there is no need to replace cards that should have already been prepared for the start of the 2010 season. We as a CB recommend that photos are changed on cards at u13 and u17 unless a player registered at u6/7 has changed so dramatically as to not be recognisable or has had extensive plastic surgery. Some clubs have gone one step further and issued ID cards for their coaches with the CRB number on, this we see as best practice in fact the officers of the Junior Committee also carry Photo ID cards with their CRB numbers.
This process ensures that all players are registered appropriately in a timely fashion, that they play in the correct age grade or that the appropriate dispensations to play down or permissions to play up an age grade are in place.
In addition this information was circulated to Clubs by Dawn Rathmell the Mini-Junior Secretary and John Sheppard County Safeguarding Officer circulated it to all Club CSOs Numerous reminders, guides and information sheets were sent out during the run up to the season. Moreover, the need to register players and play them in the correct age grade is an important feature of the Safeguarding and Protecting Young People in Rugby Union course which has now been delivered to over 700 volunteers at 41 Yorkshire clubs. These are run regularly across the county and if you would like to join one, please contact John and he will send you a list of venues and dates. One was held at Doncaster in January 2010.
Moreover, whenever we visit clubs we do discuss these issues and the rationale for them. When we have discussed the issues and rationale with coaches and parents - explaining parts of it. Those parents spoken to were very supportive of the ID Card system and a number had tales to tell of concerns about over-age players in teams their youngsters had faced.
Upon contacting other CB's regarding the issue of Photo ID cards we discovered that many of them were already using them in one form or another.
Having spent the last two season explaining to as many people as we can reach we are disappointed to hear that the information has not percolated through to the parents at clubs and indeed some clubs.
This if anything is a case in question of why clubs must send a representative to their District Committee meetings as not knowing is now no longer an excuse that will be acceptable.
Dawn Rathmell & John Sheppard for and on behalf of the YRFU Mini/Junior Committee September 2010