RugbySafe Best Practice

The experience of rugby can vary greatly from club to club. This guidance is deemed as best practice and recommends that clubs aim to implement the practices and apply poli­cies where possible and appropriate. However, is recognised that not all the information will be rele­vant to every club.

Communication with Parents/Guardians

Clubs and coaches should communicate regularly with parents/guardian(s) and work closely to sup­port any children with pre-existing medical conditions. It is important everyone is clear about what actions (if any) should be taken to consider safety and to ensure that the experience is a positive one for the player and those involved.

Clubs should consider providing information to parents each season which outlines any measures that the club has put in place to protect the safety of young players (e.g. HEAD­CASE online module training, first aid training).

Coach and volunteer meetings

It is recommended that those responsible for the club’s rugby programme(s) (e.g. Age Grade Chair, Director of Rugby) host a meeting with all coaches and volunteers to ensure there is a clear understanding of standards including the Medical Emergency Action Plan (MEAP) and codes of practice.

Players with specific medical needs

In general, participation in rugby can provide fitness and wellbeing benefits. However, for some individuals with certain medical conditions, participating in strenuous exercise and contact sports such as rugby may not be appropriate.

The RFU recommends that anyone with a medical condition that may be affected by strenuous exercise, or the physical nature of a sport like rugby, should seek medical advice before participating in any rugby union activity. The decision on whether an individual can play rugby and in what format (e.g. contact, touch rugby) needs to be based on medical advice by an appropriate expert. The parent/guardian(s) should be asked to confirm in writing that their child has been medically assessed.

Club, Team Manager and Coach responsibilities

The club and coaches should consider using different methods and approaches that meet the needs of the individual and the group of players they are working with.

Team managers/coaches should ensure the match official is appropriately briefed regarding any players with a pre-existing medical condition/injury.


Activate is an evidenced-based injury prevention exercise programme that can be integrated into training and pre-match sessions. The exercises included in the programme are designed to improve functional strength, balance and agility and have been shown to reduce the risk of injury.

Activate Infographic

Coaches are encouraged to use Activate as part of the training sessions and match-day warm-ups to help prepare players in dealing with the physical demands of the game.

Whilst there are free online resources including cue cards and videos, it is recommended that coaches attend the face-to-face session.  Courses can be requested through your local Rugby De­velopment Officer or Community Rugby Coach.

For more information visit Activate.

Supplement and Nutrition Awareness

Clubs may want to consider ways to raise awareness of anti-doping and sports nutrition amongst coaches and players. Further information and advice on supplements and nutrition  is available on the Ready for Rugby page.

Age Grade Rugby Codes of Practice

The Codes of Practice provide practical support and best practice to those delivering the Age Grade game. The Codes give practical advice on how to adopt a safe, player-centred and holistic approach to rugby and support the application of Regulation 15. They address topics such as:

  • The purpose of Age Grade rugby
  • Competition banding
  • Training activities according to a player’s age
  • Playing frequency
  • Over and under-playing players
  • Out-of-season activities
  • Player grouping
  •  Minimum standards for coaches.

Clubs with age grade rugby are encouraged to apply the Codes of Practice, as they provide a foundation for how a rugby coach should approach the development of young players. The Codes of Practice aim to help coaches recognise their responsibilities so that they can put into place a safe, progressive and monitored coaching policy.

For more information visit the Code of Practice.

Managing Contact

Training sessions should involve all aspects of the game including skill development, positioning, specific skills and contact. Contact should be built in as part of a gradual process and consideration should be given to the amount of contact activity during each session and across the week. It should take into account the age, strength, experience and ability of the children. The age grade rules and codes of practice help determine these.

Match Considerations and Safety  

Clubs should consider their fixture list, as players will achieve more from appropriately competitive games. It is important that clubs work together to provide a safe and enjoyable playing environment. For example:

  • Matching teams accordingly
  • Play four quarters
  • Play a conditioned/non-contact game (in line with RFU age grade rules)
  • Shorten or stop the game if necessary
  • Ensure dangerous play is dealt with appropriately.

Coaches from the opposing clubs as well as the match officials should be in communication before the game to discuss any potential safety issues and, if necessary, make reasonable adjustments.

Research and Injury Surveillance

As part of making the game as safe as possible, the RFU undertakes ongoing surveillance to under­stand and manage the injury risks involved. Clubs play a major part in this. Every year we need clubs to be involved in a research study that will investigate the number of injuries that occur during rugby matches.

Please visit the Research page for information on how your club can get involved.


Ensure you are delivering a safe and enjoyable rugby programme and can demonstrate how it is RugbySafe.