About Age Grade Rugby


Following a four year review of rugby for under 18’s, led by the RFU, in consultation with a wide cross section of the game, Age Grade Rugby will roll out from September 2016.   

You can download the graphic with more information about Age Grade Rugby here.


The Age Grade Competition Review (AGCR) found:

  • A lack of clarity of the competition pathway for young players
  • Conflict between club, school, college and the representative competition structure
  • A tendency to overplay the talented players and underplay the less able to achieve results.

Age Grade Rugby is based on the principles of player centred, development driven and competition supported.  The wants and needs of young people will be at its heart.  It will put player enjoyment above all else to keep more young people enjoying the game for longer and into their adult years.

Age Grade Rugby will ensure:

  • 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
  • Training and Continuous Professional Development for coaches, referees, parents, teachers and others.

As part of the review young people told the RFU that, above all else, they wanted to have fun playing rugby with their friends. Both expert opinion and the RFU’s own research have shown that emphasis has historically been placed on winning, with evidence of over playing the able players and under playing those less able players to achieve results. Age Grade Rugby will put inclusivity and each player’s skill development first, with the increasing intensity of competition introduced later. Young players will start with festivals and triangulars and progress to knockouts, tournaments and leagues as they get older and develop their game.

Experts believe rugby is a late specialism sport and recommend that the representative rugby programme should wait until U15 when players have matured.   The RFU’s player development programme will be shaped to ensure that it complements the rest of the age grade game as well as identifying and developing the more able players and providing them with higher intensity competitive opportunities.  It will also ensure a focus on their core playing programme in clubs, schools and colleges so that selection and representative rugby balances with the rest of a player’s season and motivations for taking part in rugby union.

September 2016 will also see the full roll out of the new Rules of Play under Regulation 15.

The principles behind these rules is to provide a playing format with building blocks to the 15-a-side game that allows players time to get to grips with the basics of running and catching the ball before contact and specialism is gradually introduced.

The schools and clubs who have trialed these rules have been extremely positive about the results and believe they give each player more chance to play in an environment based on activity, safety and fun.

You can view more videos about the detail of Age Grade Rugby with thoughts from coaches and teachers across the country here.