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Playing Out of Age Group [POoAG]


Notwithstanding the current RFU Regulations the case to play out of age group (including involvement with adult rugby) within Gloucestershire, whether for club, school or college must be endorsed by the Constituent Body (GRFU) or the County Schools Union (Gloucestershire Schools Union)

Children (U18s and below) are normally expected to play rugby and train in clubs, schools and colleges with others in their same school year (1 Sep – 31 Aug), although combining U17s and U18s boys is allowed without further authorisation, and there are specific regulations for combining teenage girls without further authorisation.  However, there are a number of circumstances that it may be beneficial or necessary for some children to play out of their normal age group; this includes 17 year olds playing adult rugby.  Involvement in this trial does not require any additional work by our clubs and schools, but just ensures that they are carrying out the appropriate assessments and completing the paperwork with care to ensure that all the appropriate safeguards are in place, as required of all clubs and schools across the country in RFU Regulation 15. 


The development of individuals, who are either significantly more physically or emotionally mature than their school year, may benefit from “Playing Up”.  Similarly, the development of some individuals, who physically and / or emotionally are not as advanced as his / her as others in their school age group, may benefit from “Playing Down”.  In addition, there may be circumstances where a club, school or college does not have a sufficient number of players to make up a team at a particular age group.  In such situations, combining age groups to play and train, known as “Grouping”, may be permitted.


RFU Regulation 15 and, in particular, RFU Regulation 15.2 – 15.4, details  the circumstances and conditions when children can play and train with other age groups; there is a useful table summarising these details  at RFU Regulation 15.5.  The conditions when 17 year olds can play adult rugby and train with adults are at RFU Regulation 15.6.   There are separate regulations for England Academy Players (in our case the Bristol Rugby Academy or the Gloucester Rugby Academy), outlined at RFU Regulation 15.7.  This regulation does not apply when those players play for their school, college or community club.


Grouping.  The RFU Regulation requires clubs to seek the approval of the Constituent Body (GRFU) if it wishes to group certain age grades. For schools and colleges, they have to seek the approval of their head teacher or principal, but must comply with the conditions set out in RFU Regulation 15.2.

For clubs, they should submit their case, detailing how it will meet the conditions set out in RFU Regulation 15.2.  In addition, the case must include details of the number of players the club has registered on GMS in each relevant age group.   The case just needs to be a simple paragraph stating the reasons why you want to group 2 age groups (please ensure that the number of players registered on GMS conforms with the numbers stated in your case).  The case must be submitted and signed by either the Mini & Youth Chairman or the Club Safeguarding Officer, as listed on GMS . The case should be sent to:

We will endeavour to answer this within 5 working days, although this cannot be guaranteed. There are specific arrangements for girls in the RFU Regulations and for U17s and U18s boys; these are:


U14s & U15s Girls: Can play and train together and there is no requirement to seek approval from GRFU.

U16s, U17s & U18s Girls:  Can play and train together and there is no requirement to seek approval from GRFU.

U17s & U18s Boys:  Can play and train together and there is no requirement to seek approval from GRFU.


Playing Up or Down, and Playing Adult Rugby and Training with Adults.  Playing up is only for the exceptional individual who is physically, mentally and technically maturer than their chronological age.  While playing down is for the individual who will benefit for whole lot of reasons, listed in the guidance notes below, from playing with a younger age group.  Asking for individuals to play up or down cannot be used to solve a shortage of players at a particular age group (that is the purpose of grouping).

The RFU Regulation, to play up or down, or to play adult rugby and train with adults, sometimes requires clubs to seek endorsement from their Constituent Body (GRFU).  Similarly, the RFU Regulation sometimes requires the school or college to seek endorsement of the County Schools Union (CSU).  However, GRFU is part of an RFU nationwide trial where the endorsement of all cases to play out of age group must be endorsed by the CB or CSU.  This is to determine, firstly, how many children are playing out of age group and, secondly, to ensure the decision to do so is always made solely to benefit the individual’s development. 

Participation in this trial does not require any additional work by our clubs and schools.  The RFU already requires, in RFU Regulation 15, all clubs and schools across the country to undertake appropriate assessments and have diligently completed the appropriate paperwork to ensure all safeguards are in place for players, all of whom are still legally children.

In all circumstances, the decision to play a youngster up or down must be made SOLELY to benefit the development of the individual.

There are links to further guidance and the relevant forms below.  Please ensure that you include all the supporting evidence, as listed in the appropriate Guidance Note, along with the signed application form.   We will endeavour to answer this within 5 working days, although this cannot be guaranteed.

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