Formed 2004 ... Herts 7s U14 Runners-up 2005 ... North Herts U14 team, Herts Youth Games 2005 runners-up (coached by Letchworth)... Herts Superteams U14 Runners-up 2005 ... Herts SuperTeams "Fairplay" winners 2006 ... Rochford 10s U17 Champions 2006 ... East Midlands 10s U17 Runners-up 2007 ... East Midlands 10s U17 "Fairplay" winners 2007 ... National 10s U17 5th place and "Fairplay" winners 2007 ... Herts 7s U17 Plate runners-up 2007 ... National 7s U17 Plate winners 2007 ... RFU "President's XV" Award winners 2007 ... Herts Superteams winners 2007 ... Midlands 10s U18 Runners-up 2008 ... National 10s U18 4th place 2008 ... North Herts U11 team, Herts Youth Games 2008 runners-up (coached by Letchworth girls) ... London and SE 7s U18 Plate runners-up 2008 ... Herts 7s U18s runners-up 2008 ... National 7s U18s quarter-finalists 2008 ... Gloucester City 10s U18 Bowl runner-up (6th) 2009 ... Worthing 10s U18 Plate runner-up 2009 ... National 7s U18 Plate winners 2009... Worthing 10s U15 Plate winners 2010... Worthing 10s U18 Shield winners 2010... Herts 7s U15 and U18 Bowl runners-up 2010... National 7s U18 Plate runners-up 2010...

Friday, January 02, 2009

U15 law confusion

A recent exchange on the RFUW discussion board deserves rather wider notice than it might otherwise be given, not least to anyone who plays, coaches, or referees girls' U15 rugby.

As you will all know, when the age groups changed the younger tier of girls rugby changed from being a 12-a-side game with five-player uncontested scrums to a 13-a-side games with six player (potentially) contested scrums. This therefore resulted in a number of rule changes for the age group. The RFUW helpfully circulated a card detailing rule variations to all clubs for use by referees, coaches and anyone else concerned.

However, buried deep in a separate publication - the RFUW Handbook (which is not on the website - well, not that I can find-  and which clubs are only sent one copy of each year) - are extra rules which not everyone may be aware of. Indeed these have only come to light due to what sounds an degree of unpleasentness at a game in Hampshire reported by Simon Thomas, a Level 7 rugby referee who you might expect would know his onions. In his post he says that...
"We appoint to Womens League and also County Womens Adult, U18 and U15 matches in our CB. Last season we discovered the useful RFUW Law card on by accident and so printed & issued it to all our referees who cover any sort of Women's match.

I recently had a report from a Society Ref about an U15 Girls county match, where the two sides disagreed with each other and with him. He was using the RFUW card as his reference. 

Apparently there is no #8 pick up allowed and the second rows must us a 'modesty' outside bind on props. Apart from that they use U14 boys variants, but one side insisted they were allowed to follow round at scrum half ! Apparently this is all in the RFUW 2008-09 handbook - a book no one in our Society has ever seen, let alone been sent (this season or in any previous season). 

Needless to say the Referee involved has indicated that he will decline any future RFUW Girls XV appointments." 
I'm not wildly surprised that Simon did not know about this. I was completely unaware of these rules - which is impressive as I was a member of the panel that recommended the age group changes and where the scrum was discussed in some detail. 

David Rose, a senior referee and now working for RFUW, has now replied and it seems that there are indeed different laws for six-player scrums from those that apply to five or eight. David quotes "the handbook" - though its unclear whether this is the RFUW or RFU's handbook, or another altogether. Anyway what he says appear below (and it is interesting, incidentally, that even David Rose had to get this checked). I've highlighted the relevent bits:
13 aside – 6 in scrum & 7 backs 

The game is played between teams having a maximum of thirteen players, six of whom will be forwards and form the scrum, with the remaining players forming the back line. Each side can have a number of substitutes agreed by mutual consent. Substituted players can be re-used at any time. Substitutions may only take place when the ball is ‘dead’ or at half time and always with the referees knowledge. 

The scrum will be made of six players from each team – the front row (a row of three players, i.e. a prop on either side of the hooker, two locks forming the second row and a back-row player who shall bind between the two locks 3-2-1 formation). The locks must bind to each other using the inside arm, with the outside arm around the hips (not between the legs) of the front row (props). The back row player must have their head between the hips of the second row bound with the arms around the hips (not between the legs) of the second row (locks). No player may unbind to pick up the ball at the rear of the scrum but must remain bound into the scrum until the ball is carried or passed out by the scrum half. 

Safety Note: Coaches must ensure that only players trained in the front row participate in contested scrums. 
Okay, hands up all those U15 coaches and referees who knew about this? Actually, I recall that Joe knew about the requirement to remain bound (he disallowed a try for Sasha in a game last year - or was it the year before? - for this very reason), but who knew about the modesty binding bit? And what the heck is that rule meant to achieve, anyway?

My suspicion here is that the confusion comes from our running U15 games to rules designed and written with younger boys in mind. 

Anyway - its clearly a mess and rather highlights a basic communication issue. If you send someone a 200 or so page handbook you cannot assume that they will read it. Equally posting something on the website (because the same rules also appear here) does not mean that it will be read by everyone who needs to read it. It was news to me - and I would venture to suggest that I probably hang around the RFUW website more than the average reader (indeed I might add that the above link includes a section on U12 rules which were at least partially news to me - a fact that, given Hertfordshire's leading role in the age band, is a bit worrying. I don't think we have broken too many of the rules given, though I fail to see the logic of requiring girls-only U12 teams to play to significantly different rules to those used by mixed U12 teams. Perhaps we should draft in a token boy to stand on the wing in games so as to clear up any confusion?).

I'll leave it to Simon to sum up:
"Well whatever you can do to improve communication would be useful as we had two County U15 Girls coaches and the referee each working with different sets of laws/variations, so there is something going wrong somewhere."


  1. Excellent post John.
    I had picked this up on the RFU forums and would put my hand up to having previously not know about the binding requirement.
    Simon made an excellent point on his final posting but interesting David Rose answered the previous post very quickly indeed, having kicked around that forum for some time now other than Andy who used to look after such things on the continuum pages I can't remember 'an officer' replying to a post either at all or so very quickly. That's at least one bit of communication which is working. (Never know we might see a comment on here or one of the other blogs before this year is out.......)

    btw Happy New Year to you all.


  2. Anonymous10:22 AM

    The modesty binding is in the Continuum where the girls laws on the scrum come from. Can't remember now if it is a U12, but I think so. (Haven't looked at the continuum for a couple of years.)It is a weaker binding than through the legs, which could cause a problem if one team is not using this. We have never allowed a No. 8 pick up at U15, but we do regularly get some coaches trying this, as well as the scrum half coming past the tunnel, which has not been allowed at U15 either. I would guess that this is from coaches new to girls rugby coming in to the game.
    Where mixed rugby has the continuum, which can be found in detail on the RFU website and boys have the modified U19 variations, which are not clear either, girls have this similar mish mash of regulations in different places. For the boys game, a colleague of Simon Thomas' has pulled it all together and the Hampshire Referees site has it in a downloadable table format. It looks like the girls need one also. Girls ~U12 rugby laws are based on the U10 continuum so a girl could have to play to two different sets of laws if playing both games.


  3. Anonymous10:21 PM

    I am relatively new to coaching U15 girls and have always coached and played the scrum laws as stated by David Rose with the addition of the defending scrum-half not being allowed to encroach beyond the tunnel until the ball is played.
    The easy way to ensure there is no confusion would be, and I have done this, to speak to the referee and opposition coach prior to the match to ensure we are all playing the same game.
    If this is done politely the referee will be happy and so will the opposition coach.
    Eventually everyone will know what the laws state and the confusion will be cleared up.
    I think some of this confusion may come from the change in laws from U15 to U18 or possibly from coaches trying to gain an advantage by using an illegal Number8 pick-up, hoping the referee wouldn't know.
    Malcolm (Swaffham Girls)


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