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Playing Out of Age Group [POoAG] and Combining Age Groups

This page has been updated following revisions to RFU regulations and procedures.  It is intended as an interim position so that clubs and schools can prepare accordingly for those changes.  Please read the details carefully. Details of application processes will be updated in due course.

PLAYING OUT OF AGE GROUP

This page covers 4 issues:

  • Combining Age Groups (previously "grouping") which involves a number of children in each application.

  • Playing Down an Age Group which involves an individual child.

  • Playing Up an Age Group which involves an individual child.

  • Seventeen Year Olds playing Adult Rugby, which again is about individuals.

In all 4 cases, whether it be at a club or school, APPLICATIONS FOR PERMISSION MUST BE ENDORSED BY THE GRFU (including the County School's Union for schools).

The requirements are set out in RFU Regulation 15 (Age Grade Rugby) and there is a detailed table in RFU Regulation 15.5 explaining which age groups can be combined and details of those that can play up or down. Regulation 15.6 sets out the conditions for 17 year olds being allowed to be involved in adult rugby.

However, this website page explains all the application processes and the conditions that have to be fulfilled. 

 

COMBINING AGE GROUPS

Clubs and schools may need to do this if they do not have sufficient children at a particular age group to make up a team.  So it is about groups of children, not about allowing individual children to play out of their normal age group to aid their individual development.  Which adjacent age groups can be combined are set out in the table in RFU Regulation 15.5.

GRFU is developing an on-line process for such applications; this will be available here later in August 2019.  However, we do not anticipate and will not accept any applications until September 2019 when clubs and schools have been able to assess the number of active players in each of their age groupsFor clubs, it is important that the number of players it has registered on GMS in the relevant age groups coincides with the numbers on the application.   

 

PLAYING DOWN AN AGE GROUP

This is about an individual child who for the benefit of their rugby development need to play and train with a younger age group. Such an application is usually made for one of 2 reasons:

  • The child is in a lower year at school than their birthday age group (so such an application will mean that they can play rugby at school or a club with their school mates - the most important motivator for children to play rugby.

  • The child is particularly small in stature for their age and, therefore, their safety might be compromised.  Details of the child's size and how it differs from others of his or her age group must be included on the application.

GRFU is developing an on-line process for such applications; this will be available here later in August 2019. 

In rare cases where a club or school wants a child to play down 2 age groups, after endorsement bythe GRFU, it will also require GRFU to seek the permission of the RFU Legal department as well. 

 

PLAYING UP AN AGE GROUP

Playing up an age group is not permitted until the child is at least an U12.

This is about an individual child who for the benefit of their rugby development need to play and train with an older age group. Such an application should not be made lightly:

  • Children enjoy playing with their mates who are invariably in their school year group.

  • It must not be made, because a club or school has insufficient numbers in a particular age group (that is what combining age groups is for - see above).

The application requires a Level 2 coach to carry out an assessment to demonstrate why that child will benefit from playing and training with an older age group.  It is strongly recommended that coaches read RFU's Age Grade Codes of Practice  before making such an assessment.  The assessment, details of which must be included in the application, must cover:

  • Why and how the skill level and ability of the child is different from children of his or her normal age group.

  • How the physical development for the child's age is different from children of his or her normal age group.

  • How the social and emotional development for the child's age is different from children of his or her normal age group.

  • If an U16 seeking permision to play with U17s / U18s, details of the representative rugby the individual has played.

GRFU is developing an on-line process for such applications; this will be available here later in August 2019.  However, we do not anticipate and will not accept any applications until September 2019 when clubs and schools have been able to assess such individual players against others in their school age group. 

 

SEVENTEEN YEAR OLDS PLAYING ADULT RUGBY

We have been aware that the RFU is having to change its processes for 17 year olds playing adult rugby, following a review and clarification by the Government’s Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) about the process for any child to participate with adults in sport (it is not just rugby).  The government‘s DBS has clarified that anybody under the age of 18, even with the physical and emotional maturity to benefit from playing sport with adults, is still “legally a child” (including 17 year olds) and must be safeguarded accordingly. 

Consequently, the RFU has had to have its processes reviewed and it has resulted in a new 2 stage process to allow a 17 year old to play adult rugby, as follows:

  • The club has to be approved by its CB as having an appropriate environment to safeguard 17 year olds participating in rugby with adults.  To do this the club has to submit a new form called the club approval form, and that approval lasts for a season.  Moreover, the conditions that a club has to fulfil are something that may take a few days, weeks or a month or so to fulfil; more on this below

  • Once the club has that CB approval, it can then submit for each individual a revised player approval form,  seeking permission for that 17 year old to play and contact train with adults, which again has to be approved by the CB.

GRFU is developing an online system for these 2 processes, rather than there being a myriad of forms, but we only had final confirmation from the RFU recently (29 Jul 19) of this new 2 stage process so it is going to take a couple of weeks to set up. Monitor this page for an update.

So what do we do in the meantime?  The RFU has agreed that for those 17 year olds who were given permission last season to play adult rugby that can be extended until 1 Sep 19, by which time the new system will be functional.  To make such an application for an extension, please send an email to POOAG@grfu.org.

For those who were 17 last season, but were not considered by their club and approved by GRFU to play adult rugby and for those whose 17th birthday has been since the end of last season, they will need to wait before an application can be made.   They will have to continue to play and train with their age grade side, but hopefully this will only affect pre-season.  Of course that assumes that the club is able to fulfil the conditions of being a suitable club.

In addition, clubs can prepare to fulfil the conditions needed for the CB to approve them as a club having an appropriate environment to safeguard 17 year olds participating in rugby with adults; these include and will be some of the information required in the on-line process form:

  • Does the club have an active safeguarding officer?  Is their name and contact details easily available on the club website.

  • Has the club’s safeguarding office completed the RFU’s In Touch course (date of completion will be required).  If not, an course application has to have been made, with details of date (not more than 6 months in advance) and location supplied.

  • Has the club adopted the RFU’s Safeguarding Policy and is it available (via a link ideally) on the club’s website.

  • Has the club completed satisfactorily the RFU Safeguarding Audit on GMS this season.  This  can now been found on your GMS page under the “questionnaires” section

  • Those in positions of trust in the adult teams that the 17 year old is likely to play in will need a DBS clearance.  These are likely to be coach, team manager, captain and volunteer first aider (this does not include a health care professional who is providing pitch side care because they will have the relevant clearance from their professional standing).  We will expect a club to name and give their DBS clearance number for a minimum of 2 individuals. If your club runs both an adult wonen's  and adult men's team, we would require the club to list 4 such individuals; 2 involved with the relevant male adult team(s) and 2 with the relevant female adult team(s), unless an individual is involved with both male and female adult teams.

  • Is your club accreditation up to date?

Failure to fulfil any of those conditions is likely to mean that a club would not be approved as a suitable environment and, therefore, could not make any applications for 17 year olds to play adult rugby. So clubs will need to ensure they can fulfil those conditions if they want 17 year olds to be able to play and contact train with adults next season. 

 

FURTHER QUESTIONS

If you have any other queries not covered above,please send an email to POOAG@grfu.org with details of your question.

 

 

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