Moving from the ‘Continuum’ to the new rules of play

Since 1990, children have been taught to play rugby based on the ‘Continuum’. This was formulated on the idea that the adult version of the game could be watered down to create a child version of the same game. U7s and U8s played Tag rugby, and then at U9 children moved onto contact where the tackle, scrum, lineout, ruck and maul were introduced.

The new rules of play have been designed based on research evidence and child development expertise and is aligned to the needs and capabilities of the child.

As in education, children are introduced to new skills and concepts on an incremental basis, which enables them to become competent in them, work to master them and embed them before providing them with more progressive skills and concepts leading to the adult game.

[quote_left]As in education, children are introduced to new skills and concepts on an incremental basis[/quote_left]

The new Rules of Play provide more passing, running with the ball, tagging/tackling, more tries and more time in play and as a consequence more decision-making in both attack and defense – core skills which are the foundation of the game.

U7’s play 4v4, U8’s 6v6, (Tag with an emphasis on passing, catching, support play and evasive running) U9’s 7v7 (tackling introduced), U10’s 8v8 (with the introduction of rucks, mauls and scrums) U11’s (introduction of kicking)

The pitches are smaller and there is less coaching on the pitch, so only one referee is required per pitch rather than the current one game coach plus two coaches on the pitch.

There is also a relaxing of penalizing for accidental handling errors with the U7’s, to help prevent the situation where child A does not pass to child B because s/he dropped the ball last time.

When the scrum is introduced, at U10, the nearest 3 players are encouraged to participate, this will teach all players the correct technique for scrummage, which is then transferable to the tackle, line-out support, ruck and maul. The introduction of safe scrum technique combined with a delay of competitive scrum (with its inevitable temptation of early specialization), will increase the number of players who have experienced the scrum and who are able to demonstrate a safe technique.


For all squads U11 and below:

In 2013 the RFU conducted a Mini and Youth Rugby Blueprint Roadshow and interviewed over 500 people in 27 clubs. 70% of those questioned said that competition needed to change and there was almost unanimous agreement, that, although festivals and triangulars motivated young people to play, tournaments with a ‘winner’ did not. Therefore, in line with this study, the focus will now be on competitive opportunities on a local level to enable any player of any experience or standard to play the game. The current larger events remain but as competitive festivals, not as competitions/tournaments that find overall winners or base progression on winning matches. Demonstration of the core values, commitment and child/player-centredness are some of the most relevant success measures at these ages.

It was felt there should be a limited number of festivals teams could enter per
year, friendly and triangular matches, with a game/festival opportunity every 3rd week.

School Rugby

In early 2015, the Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS), of which the vast majority of rugby-playing prep schools are members, adopted the New Rules of Play up to U11 for 2015-16 and for U12 and U13 for 2016-17.

Further Information

New rules of play faq

Mini and Youth Blueprint Roadshow Report

AGCR Competitions and Playing Menu

AGCR Consistent Age Bandings