Secondary Student Development

Rugby union has been played in England since it was said that William Webb Ellis of Rugby School caught the ball and ran. Since those beginnings in1823, rugby union has become one of the most played and watched sports the world. Thousands of young people of all shapes, sizes and abilities play rugby throughout the nation every week of the season. The RFU strive to provide appropriate playing opportunities for every school in England, for information on your local playing landscape please contact your local Rugby Development Officer


The NatWest Schools Cup is the premier tournament in schools rugby, where schools teams compete regionally and then nationally for the chance to play at Twickenham and clinch the coveted trophy. Some 1000 teams take part each year across the country at Under 15 and Under 18 level, all schools taking part are members of the ERFSU. All schools that enter play for a main cup and there is also a vase for teams knocked out in the early rounds, also culminating in a Twickenham final.

For all the latest news on the NatWest Schools Cup Competitions, including eligibility information, the cup draw, round dates, links to match reports and much more, please visit the NatWest Schools Cup section

Student Development 

Tour and Cross Border Fixtures

Taking part in rugby activity in a different rugby union is a fantastic way to develop your students further. It can provide them with the opportunity to learn about different cultures, build team spirit, and create memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.

The RFU has a dedicated section to organising tours oversees from checklists to the permission to tour process. For more information please visit

U18 Schools Champions Trophy

Following consultation, the RFU/ERFSU are introducing a new, one-term U18 schools competition next season, aiming to engage the best rugby playing schools who play one term rugby only. This is a 32-team pilot, which should ensure that post-Christmas commitments don’t clash for the schools taking part, allowing talented U18s to play for school, academy and country. There will be four knockout rounds followed by a Final at Allianz Park.

Schools Games

The School Games is a unique opportunity to motivate and inspire millions of young people across the country to take part in more competitive school sport. The Games are made up of four levels of activity: competition in schools, between schools, at county/area level and a national finals event and rugby union is proud to be part of all levels of the games.

Rugby Union is a good fit for the School Games at all 4 levels:

  • Level 1 is a great opportunity for schools to play inter-form or house matches in various formats. It doesn't have to be contact 15-a-side either; the Kids First Rugby Competition and Games guide provides a suggested format for a fun, inclusive Level 1 intra school festival.
  • Level 2 is all about players representing their school regularly against other schools. This continues to be the bedrock of schools rugby union with young people having the chance to test their skills against players of similar standard. Inter-school rugby is where the values of teamwork, respect, discipline and sportsmanship really start to affect lives.
  • Level 3 involves the county cup competitions as well as stepping stones to regional and national schools competitions. It is also the stage where the Girls Year 7 & 8, Year 9 & 10 and the Natwest Schools Cup Under 15 Vase and Cup take place.
  • The Level 4 School Games event is a multi-sport event for the UK's elite young athletes of school age. The event features 12 current and future Olympic and Paralympic sports including girls rugby 7s, which has been included in the national School Games since 2011, and over 1,600 young sports stars are expected to take part.

Player Pathway

For almost all young players, the rugby journey begins through participating at school or a local rugby club. The journey for some players can then follow the path to county representation, and in excess of six thousand players are enrolled nationally in one of the fourteen Developing Player Programmes across seventy centre's where they receive further development opportunities. The Developing Player programme is a national programme managed by the RFU and delivered locally through a partnership of RFU, England Rugby Academy and Constituent Body.

The dual system Aspirational and Performance Pathways – is integrated to ensure different player lifestyles and needs are accounted for –This draws on the expertise of teachers, coaches, top class managers and administrators and the Regional Academies and ensures that the experience is open, fair, and developmental and most of all a good quality one. For more information on local opportunities for talented players please contact your local RFU Player Development Officer.

Student Leadership

The RFU student leadership programme offers two award courses for pupils aged 11 – 16. These awards are FREE to access and can be downloaded here to be delivered by school staff.

RFU Key Stage 3 Young Leaders Award

RFU Key Stage 4 Level 1 Leaders Award

Leadership activities have shown significant impact in developing the personal and social skills of those doing the leading. For many students it is their first experience of responsibility; the first time they have been listened to, the first time they have gained an idea of their own worth, their personal skills and potential. For some it can often be the first time they have gained success in P.E.

We want the RFU student leadership programme to develop students as confident, capable Rugby Union leaders and also encourage a community delivery project. These awards will support your students in running any of the following projects:

  • Organise and run a ‘Return to Rugby’ touch rugby programme at your school to capitalise on the 2015 Rugby World Cup Legacy
  • Organise a Level 1 School Games Tag Rugby intra school festival.
  • Organise a primary school Tag Rugby festival at your local rugby club or school.
  • Support the coaching of younger rugby teams at your school.
  • Provide coaching for Primary School pupils.
  • Run informal playground tag/touch rugby at lunchtime at your school.

The ethos and Core Values of Rugby Union learned as a part of this course aid the development of confident, capable young people who are able to make a positive contribution to school life.

Kids First Rugby Competition Guide