17 year olds playing Senior Rugby

17 Year Olds Playing Adult Rugby

The RFU have introduced a new Regulation effective from the start of our new 2019/2020 season, which requires approval from the CB BEFORE a 17- year old can be allowed to play or do contact training with adults.  Hopefully you will already be aware of this, as information was included in the RFU’s July Community Game Update.

This two-step process has been introduced as a result of clarification by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) on safeguarding requirements when underage players play in adult sport.  17-year olds are still considered to be children and this process helps clubs to react to this change and support the appropriate transition to adult rugby.  The RFU recognised that a more robust process was needed to assess both Club and Player suitability, and this process, whilst may initially be time consuming on our hard-working volunteers, will ensure that decisions are player-centred.  Firstly, the Club needs to be approved, and secondly, the Player.  These are separate processes, but Player approval cannot be given until the Club is approved.

This is the same process for both 17-year old boys and girls playing men’s or women’s rugby.


We attach 4 documents :-
1)  REGULATION 15.5 Playing Adult Rugby    2) A Club guide – to assist you to manage the process
3) Club Approval Form 2019                                 4) Player Approval Form 2019


Clearly, time is tight before the start of the season with first league games on 7th September, and we will do what we can to support you in this process.

We are setting up a dedicated email address to help you manage this process which will be communicated out to you in the coming days.

Where a Club wishes to play a 17-year old in an adult side at the start of the season, please complete the Club Approval Form by 31st August, so that Darren Dolby, NLD Safeguarding Manager can authorise it in time.

We are aware that some smaller clubs without a youth section do not have a Club Safeguarding Officer, and that there are others who have not taken the “in Touch” course.  Our RFU Delivery Team have determined that a course will be run before the end of October, to allow all clubs to adhere to this requirement.

Once the Club Approval has been agreed, we will then be in a position to countersign the Player Approval.  We would ask that applications are received by midnight on the Tuesday prior to the Saturday of a game; this will give our volunteers reasonable time to review and approve.

We would recommend that clubs complete forms with “real” signatures, scan and send as PDF documents – please.

We are required to approve in advance – the RFU will not allow us to approve in retrospect.

There may be some clubs who want an U17 to play in a pre-season August friendly – please send forms ASAP if you need this, and we will aim for a swift turnaround.

We would expect clubs to have an official (coach, captain, manager, senior player) with a DBS check for every match (home or away) as a mentor where there is a 17-year old playing, in line with what we would expect with 17-year olds in youth teams.  Where clubs are concerned on player numbers, and in the past have used 17-year olds to “make up numbers”, please be aware that the new “Game On” regulations permit games with reduced numbers below level 9 – hopefully, this will reduce the pressure on premature playing up.

No doubt there will be queries on the process so do please ask any questions – we will do our best to assist with forms or find appropriate personnel to assist with your own club’s processes.  Please do not question us on the RFU’s decision – this process is not optional.

We wish you a great season of rugby.