Ross Cowie on Age Grade and Playing Regulations for 2015/16

A note from Ross Cowie – “Forgive me please for attaching some notes on Age Grade and Playing Regulations for this coming season.
Eastern Counties will be adopting the New Rules of Play at U12s – a link to these is below – we are forever grateful to this age group for being the guinea pigs for introducing the new rules each season.
http://www.englandrugby.com/mm/Document/Governance/Regulations/01/31/29/18/RFU_Regulation_15_Appendix_1_U12_New_Rules_of_Play_Neutral.pdf
Inevitably, there will be queries on the detail !

Our RDOs, Jonathan and Sam are organising Workshops across Eastern Counties to explain these to coaches in further detail – they are writing separately to CCCs. Under 11s & below will be playing to the same rules as introduced last and previous seasons. There may have been some confusion on changes at other age groups – these are not in force until next season 16/17 – so please ignore (for the time being).

I attach below a link to Age Grade Regulations for season 15/16.
http://www.englandrugby.com/mm/Document/Governance/Regulations/01/30/34/88/RFU_Regulation_15_Neutral.pdf
http://www.englandrugby.com/mm/Document/Governance/Regulations/01/30/35/01/Guidance_to_age_grade_regulation_15_Neutral.pdf

These should, of course, be the “bible” by which you run your club’s youth, mini, and girls rugby.

There has been much talk about playing down an age group, and amalgamation of age groups etc., but these regulations are more stringent, and require formal approval. May I highlight the following, please.

U7 to U12s – these age groups are covered by the new Shaping the Game protocols, which Eastern Counties agreed to adopt. Please be reminded that all clubs within ECs need to follow these new protocols, which are mandatory.

U12s to U15s – playing up – players may play up one year with the appropriate assessments, and parental consents.

U16s to U18s – playing up – players may play up 2 age groups year with the appropriate assessments, and parental consents. Except in the front row – one age group only (NB – this is a recent regulation) – age dates for youth rugby are 31st August / 1st September – which is different from adult rugby – which is player’s birthday.

PLAYING DOWN – THIS IS FORBIDDEN, except where a player has formal permission from Eastern Counties. This will be approved in exceptional circumstances where there are physical or developmental reasons which mean that it would be more appropriate to play a year down. A form is here; any assessment should be completed by a Level 2 coach, and signed off by 2 of Hon Sec, Youth Chairman / CCC/ Club Safeguarding Officer. I am very happy to provide advice on this matter – but completed forms should be forwarded to Lisa in the EC office.
Please note that you will need to reapply for any exemption given in previous seasons.

MIXED AGE GROUPS, We are keen to ensure that as many youngsters as possible can play the game in a safe and enjoyable environment, and are conscious that a number of clubs can only field sides at certain age groups by amalgamating age groups – and it has been normal for these groups to “play up”. However, we are conscious that this, occasionally, may not necessarily be the best environment for all the players.
I am aware of previous examples :
A club ran their U16s with 2 (modest) players at U17 – they did not have formal permission to do so. They always sought permission from their opponents – it was a very safe environment, BUT on paper it was wrong.
A club ran a mixed U14/U15 group playing up – 75% of the players were U14, and of a very modest standard – they were regularly well beaten.

I am minded to find a better way in these circumstances, provided it is safe and enjoyable, so…………………………

If and where you want to / need to play mixed groups in similar circumstances, please contact me, and we will see if there is a pragmatic solution which can be formalised .
Please do NOT play anyone down without seeking formal approval.

Any queries on this, please do not hesitate to contact me by e-mail (rossrugby@btinternet.com), or via you RDO or CRC before making any call on this.

For the avoidance of doubt, players may not play down in order to “make up numbers” – if a club is short of numbers, please make arrangements with your opposition to equalise numbers.

Please do NOT call off games if you are short of numbers, or do not have a front row – please contact your opponents – they will normally happily help you (or play uncontested scrums) – so that youngsters can have an enjoyable game.

Please ensure that all who turn up have a game – please do not leave them “on the bench”.
There is no need to have a large number of replacements – where you have more than (say) 10 “on the bench”, please try running a second side – remember that “any number can play” – virtually all opponents will assist.

For Mixed Age Groups at Mini level, please see Regulation 15; I am more than happy to advise if and where you have any queries – we are keen to ensure that all youngsters have the opportunity to play – but please do not break these protocols !

Girls Rugby
There are 3 age bands
U18 – covering school years 13,12,11
U15 – covering school years 10,9
U13 – covering school years 8,7,6
Except for 18 year olds playing adult rugby, these bands are strict, and girls should not play matches outside these protocols. There is no longer any exemption for U13s to play up at U15.

The Season
Commences September 5th, and finishes 2nd May 16. Competitive fixtures should not be played outside these dates, without (very) special permission.
For U12s and below, there should not be fixtures before 1st October

Festivals
Where a club wishes to hold a Mini Festival, formal approval MUST be given. Please ask Lisa for Eastern Counties forms and guidance documentation.
Youth Festivals – these have been pre-determined within the Structured Season; if a club wishes to hold a Festival in 16/17, please contact me directly.

Foreign Tours
Where a club wishes to tour outside the home unions, or host a touring side, permission is required from Eastern Counties. Appropriate forms are available on the Eastern Counties web-site, and should be lodged with Lisa at least 4 weeks beforehand. The remainder of the regulations and guidance are self explanatory, and are commended to you for best practice. It would be helpful if all clubs could disseminate these to all involved in the management and coaching of youth, mini, and girls rugby.
If you have any queries on these, please direct these via Lisa, or contact your RDO or CRC.
May I wish you a great rugby season, and no doubt, I will see many of you ‘around the circuit’.

Ross Cowie
Chairman, CCPD – Eastern Counties.”

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