Get Involved in Mini Rugby – The RFU Rules of Play (U7-U12)

Whether you’re a parent or otherwise interested in getting involved with grassroots rugby, the RFU Rules of Play are a great place to start.

The grassroots rugby system in England has been fully reviewed and updated for the first time since 1990. The process of reviewing U7 to U12 rugby has been underway since the late naughties. The RFU having been supported by Exeter University, working together with clubs in Durham, Warwickshire and Hampshire who have been piloting the Rules for the last few years.

The purpose of reviewing and now implementing the new Rules of Play is to broaden the appeal of the game, encourage participation over competition and ensure inclusivity for all. Children need to have a positive experience when they first play the game in order to come back week after week, year after year.

The new competition formats mean that from U7 to U12, where the majority of games are played at festivals, there will no longer be any playoff or knockout matches. All teams participate in round-robin pools only. The teams in each pool play one another and all players take part – there is no winner at the end of the tournament, so the desire to field better players in order to win is removed. The playing field can be levelled according to the ability of the opposition.

Although competition is good for children, it can often take precedent over enjoyment. A 9-year-old will obviously be thrilled at winning a trophy, but for every 10 children celebrating, there are another 50 who don’t win. Taking something home, whether it is a certificate or even a medal for participating, will be more rewarding for the collective over the select few.

For those who disagree: remember, they are children. A few years ago they learnt to walk, talk and were still wearing nappies. They have many years after Mini Rugby to develop further. U13+ will incorporate competition. Children would rather spend an hour participating for a pat on the back, than 55 minutes watching and 5 minutes on the field for a trophy they will feel they haven’t earned.

The main reason a player or person stops participating in any activity, rugby included, is because they no longer enjoy it. We cannot invest in the future of our game if there are no players. It is our responsibility as parents, coaches, volunteers and fans to encourage our youngest members to take part before they are lost to other sports.

You can find out more about the structure of each age group, when core skills and key learning outcomes are introduced and much more from the RFU website, or, your local club:

RFU Rules of Play:
RFU Believe, Belong, Begin: