School and college rugby programmes can vary greatly. This guidance is deemed as best practice and it is recommended that schools/colleges 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 school or college.

Communication with Parents/Guardians

Teachers/coaches should communicate regularly with parent/guardian(s) and work closely to support any children with pre-existing medical conditions. It is important everyone is clear about what (if any) particular accommodations should be taken to consider safety and ensure that the experience is a positive one for the player and others involved. Coaches should consider using different methods and approaches that meet the needs of the individual and the group of players they are working with.

Schools/colleges should consider providing information to parents each season which outline any measures that the school/college has put in place to protect the safety of young players e.g. HEADCASE online module training, first aid training.

Staff meetings

It is recommended that those responsible for the school’s rugby programme e.g. Head of Rugby, host a meeting with all teachers, staff and coaches involved in the school’s rugby programme. To ensure there is a clear understanding of standards including policies, risk assessment and all schemes of work.

Giving Pupils a choice

As with any subject and sport, young people will have different abilities and motivation levels when it comes to rugby. Providing different formats of the game such as Touch, provides pupils with the opportunity to still participate in the game at a level that is appropriate to their ability and motivation. Pupils are more likely to enjoy the game and stay involved if they experience a game they enjoy.

Students with specific medical needs

In general, participation in rugby by pupils can provide fitness and wellbeing benefits. However, for some young people 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 on the basis of medical advice by an appropriate expert. The parent/guardian(s) should be asked to confirm in writing that their child has been medically assessed.

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

Teachers/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 training sessions and match-day warm-ups to help prepare players in dealing with the physical demands of the game.

There are free Activate online resources including cue cards and videos, however it is highly 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

Schools/colleges may want to consider ways to raise awareness of anti-doping and proper sports nutrition amongst staff and students. 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 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 and the minimum standards required for coaches/teachers.

Schools/colleges with age grade rugby are encouraged to apply the Codes of Practice as they provide a foundation for how a rugby coach/teacher 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 Codes of Practice

Managing Contact

Session plans should involve all aspects of the game including skill development, position 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 each week, taking into account the age, strength, experience and ability of the children.

Safe Fixtures

Schools should consider their fixture list as players will achieve more from appropriately competitive games. Whilst history and tradition can play an important role in a school’s annual fixture list it is also important that schools work together to provide a safe and enjoyable playing environment. Different formats and/or reasonable adjustments may need to be considered. The age grade rules and codes of practice will help determine these.

Match Protocols Safety

Teachers/coaches from the different schools/colleges and match officials should communicate before the game to discuss any potential safety issues and if necessary, any reasonable adjustments.

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 ‘zero tolerance’ of dangerous infractions.

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. Schools play a major part in helping us achieve this. Every year we need schools to be involved in a research study that will investigate the number of injuries that occur during schools rugby matches.

For more information on how your school can get involved, visit the Research page.


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