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RFU Regulations


Rules and Regulations

The RFU Rules and Regulations website at Regulations is your central resource for the rules and regulations of Rugby Union Football in England.   

The new regulations and guidance have been revised in order to assist in developing children and young players in the most appropriate and safest way, with long term development and retention being the ultimate aim.

All youth rugby from U6 to U18 is covered under Regulation 15 which is known as Age Grade Rugby. This regulation relates to training, matches and all variations of rugby permitted within the relevant age grade.

Age Grade Competition Review
Background to the New Rules of Play
and the Age Grade Competition Calendar 

Also see our page dedicated to the Rules of Play - first option under RFU Regulations

The AGCR Implementation Action Plan, which also includes a new strategic direction for Under 16 representative rugby, has foundations based on the firm principles that the game must be “player-centred, development-driven and competition-supported”, in that order.  This ensures that the motivations and welfare of all players, no matter their experience or ability, are the cornerstone of the game they play week in week out.
The plan includes, from the 2016-17 season, consistent age bandings and incremental player progressions for all Age Grade Rugby; a nationally consistent playing menu and calendar that increases inclusivity, clarifies player priorities and dovetails club, school, college competitions; an integrated England Rugby Player Development pathway and representative framework and training and Continuous Professional Development for coaches, referees, parents, teachers and others.  It will support and work with counties, clubs, schools and colleges over the next 16 months to make the changes.
Implications requiring some change for those organising, delivering and playing rugby at Under 18 and below include:
Playing Framework

  • Mixed contact rugby finishes after U11
  • U13 dual age band for girls does not include U11s
  • 15 a side rugby starts at U14
  • U13 New Rules are implemented nationally in 2016-17
  • Lineout introduction is delayed to U14
 Competitive Diet and Season
  • A nationally-defined consistent menu of national and county competitions per age group
  • No formal league rugby before U15
  • Competitive festivals before U12, not competitions/tournaments that find overall winners
  • Competitions and representative rugby at all levels (local to CB to national) to be played in specific, nationally-consistent season windows
 Representative Pathway
  • Formation of Regional Player Pathway Groups to drive the programme
  • Divisional representative level replaced by regional programme matched with the 14 Regional Academies at U16 (implementation of this point from 2015/16 season)
  • No representative rugby before U15
  • No district programmes at U16
The significant changes to the England Rugby player pathway in this third section will result in development opportunities extended to 250 more English players each year (with a residential festival involving 14 Regional Academy sides) and a single clear pathway from 2016/17. A strategic review of the U16s programme studied the AGCR’s work, the RFU Talent Symposium’s findings and best practice from other nations.  The Review Group recommended broad numbers accessing talent development opportunities, less layers of representative rugby, improved pathway clarity, more development, less selection and age appropriate competition.
Implementation will be carried out in two stages and be managed locally by the newly-formed Regional Player Pathway Groups to ensure implementation best overcomes local challenges.  Key stakeholders from across the Academy Region have a critical role to schedule development activities and manage player programmes to ensure they are mutually supporting and not conflicting.
Between May and September 2015, an information and awareness campaign will share the plan detail to ensure that everyone involved in Age Grade rugby union knows how the game will look from September 2016 onwards.  Regular updates on EnglandRugby.com, in Touchline and other game communications will be key to keeping everyone informed.
A series of resources, events and support programmes will continue through to and beyond the start of the 2016-17 season.  The RFU is committed to helping the game to make the changes and to be ready for kick-off in 16 months’ time. 
For more detail about the AGCR Implementation Action Plan, its back story and the rollout please go to www.englandrugby.com/age-grade-rugby or contact agegraderugby@rfu.com
Also, see our special page that helps with understanding the New Rules of Play and the Age Grade Competition Calendar