As the government drives to boost participation in rugby in English schools, there have been a number of articles in the press raising concern over the safety of the game for children.

The sport’s governing body, the RFU, has taken steps to ensure that the game is as safe as possible given the inherent risks in any contact sport. One of the key steps taken was the introduction of Regulations 15 relating to rules on the age of players in youth rugby.

Each season, children have a one in ten chance of getting injured badly enough that they need at least seven days off the pitch. Although some injuries are minor, others can prove to be fatal – concussion and spinal trauma being big concerns according to health officials. In 2011, one student received fatal injuries   during a match and collapsed after he was involved with a series of heavy tackles. Following an inquest, the cause of death to this teenager was due to brain injuries. This unfortunate accident has brought much criticism to the sport and subsequently, the RFU has taken steps to make the sport safer.

From 1st August 2013, the RFU introduced new regulations specific to Age Grade rugby (from Under 6 (U6) to Under 18 (U18) age groups). These regulations apply to both genders up to and including U12s, from which point there are specific regulations applicable to girls’ rugby for the U13 to U18 age grades. Regulations 15 relate to training, matches and all variations of rugby permitted within the relevant age grade whilst setting out the best practice principles.

Guidelines contained within Regulations 15 make suggestions on how assessments should be undertaken and adhered to. It is therefore essential that a risk assessment is completed and adjusted for each and every match occasion and is approved by the Head Teacher. In addition, the RFU has also introduced child safeguarding policies and some comprehensive guidelines on coaching requirements and introducing children to aspects such as the scrum and lineout.

Our Advice is:

If you have subscribed to our Competent Advisor Package & have access to our online Risk Management Resource Centre you can refer to the following documents by going to & clicking on the members tab:

Generic risk assessment – Games (general considerations)

Generic risk assessment  – Games (example pupil risk assessment)

Generic risk assessment  – First aid in schools

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