The Colts structure is proving a great success in retaining young players and transitioning them into the adult game and is to be applauded.
The first few weeks of the season have brought into focus a few issues which we need to clarify to ensure the success of this structure and to manage the risk to players, coaches and clubs. This is not placing barriers in the way of Colts rugby, it is the opposite – ensuring that barriers imposed by existing criminal laws and RFU regulations are properly managed so they do not impact adversely on this important transition.
- Age Grades
Colts rugby is Age Grade Rugby, and has to adhere to RFU Regulation 15. http://www.englandrugby.com/mm/Document/General/General/01/31/97/52/RFURegulation152016-2017_English.pdf
Age Grade Rugby is played by players in the Under 18 age grade and below. That is, by players who are not yet 18 on the 31st August of the preceding season.
Players who are 18 or older before the start of the season cannot play in a Colts game unless they have been suitably risk assessed and have applied for and received NLD CB approval to play down. Details of this process and the application form are set out in the Playing Out Of Age Grade guidance here https://nldrfu.co.uk/resource/playing-age-grade/.
Players in the Under 16 and Under 17 age grades may play up in an Under 18 Colts team if they have been assessed as able to do so and the Playing Out Of Age Grade form has been completed, signed off by the club and submitted to the NLD office. U16 players may not play in the front row of contested scrums if playing up in a Colts game.
If the game is classed as an Under 19 game then this is Adult Rugby. In this circumstance the following apply:
- all players must have reached their 17th birthday.
- Any player under the age of 18 must have been suitably risk assessed and the club must have completed the RFU Playing Adult Rugby form for them. http://www.englandrugby.com/mm/Document/General/General/01/32/60/47/PlayingAdultRugbyForm2017_English.docx
- Any player over 17 but not yet 18 must not play in the front row of contested scrums.
- There should be a suitable mentor assigned to each player under 18.
- DBS requirements
Anyone coaching or supervising age grade rugby (including Colts rugby) is taking part in regulated activity as defined in the Children’s Act and supporting legislation and MUST have a valid DBS check. The RFU requires that this is an RFU sponsored DBS and that it is registered on the GMS system.
- Safeguarding issues when playing on a Saturday.
Be careful to ensure that behaviour of adults in and around the changing rooms and clubhouse sets a good example and does not exclude those U18.
Ensure that any involvement of U18 players in post match activities is age appropriate and does not expose the players, adults or club to breaches of the law.
If the game is an Under 19 game, that is there are no players under the age of 17 AND all those not yet 18 have been signed off to play Adult Rugby, then there are no other safeguarding issues to address.
Colts teams can include players aged 15 to 18. The following apply:
- All supervising adults must have a current DBS recorded on GMS
- Age Grade players must not share changing room or showering facilities with adult teams.
There are several simple precautions which can be put in place to ensure the changing and showering requirements are not an issue.
- Where a club has sufficient changing rooms and dedicated showers for each changing room there are few issues to address. Ensure sufficient supervision is in place to prevent accidental issues such as unauthorised access to changing rooms or showers used by age grade players.
- If there are not sufficient facilities to allow segregation of adults and colts then you could stagger the games. If shared showers is the issue, why not start the colts game 30 minutes or so before the adult games, giving time for the colts to vacate the showers before the adult game finishes?
- If there are insufficient changing rooms to avoid sharing, then the game should be played at a different time, either earlier on the same day or another day.