New under 9 rules

New under 9 rules


Effective from 1 August 2016

UNDER 9s RULES OF PLAY (Transitional Contact)

Players and match officials must ensure that the following Rules of Play and RFU Regulation 15 are observed when playing rugby at Under 9.

These Under 9s Rules of Play set out below are mandatory for clubs and schools, and replace the previous Under 9s Rules of Play in their entirety.
Any terms defined in these Rules shall have the meanings set out in the World Rugby

Laws of the Game.

The key elements of the Under 9s Rules of Play are:
• Team numbers: a maximum of 7-a-side
• Maximum pitch size: 60 metres x 30 metres
• Ball Size: 3
• Maximum minutes each half: 15
• Introduction of the tackle only but no rucks, mauls, lineouts or

1. General:

The object of the game is to score a try by placing the ball with a downward
pressure on or behind the opponents’ goal line. A penalty try will be awarded
if a try would probably have been scored but for an infringement by the
defending team.

2. Teams:

a) Under 9 Rugby is played between teams of equal numbers of players,
containing a maximum of seven players on the pitch at any one time.
b) Rolling substitutions are permitted and substituted players can
return at any time. Substitutions can only take place when the ball is
dead and always with the referee’s permission.
c) Coaches are not permitted on the pitch when the game is in play and
the referee is encouraged to advise and guide the teams and players.
3. Pitch Size:
a) The maximum pitch size is 60 metres by 30 metres, plus 5 metres for
each in-goal area.
b) The referee and coaches may agree to reduce the pitch sizes provided
that they agree it is safe to do so.
c) Adjacent pitches should be no closer than 5 metres.

4. Passing:
The ball may only be passed sideways or backwards . If the ball is knocked
or passed forwards towards the opponents’ dead ball line, then a free pass
is awarded to the non-offending team, unless advantage occurs to the nonoffending team. In order to keep the game flowing, referees should play
advantage wherever possible.

5. Free Passes:

a) A free pass is awarded:
i. To start the match at the beginning of each half from the
centre of the pitch.
ii. When there has been an infringement.
iii. For a forward pass.
iv. For a knock on.
v. After a try is scored, to restart the match by the nonscoring
team from the centre of the pitch.
vi. When the ball or ball carrier goes into touch. The free
pass is 5 metre from touch, level with where the ball or
ball carrier went into touch.
vii. When the ball is pulled from the ball carrier’s grasp.
viii. When the tackler makes contact at or above the armpit.
b) At a free pass, the opposition must be 7 metres back from the mark.
At a free pass, the passer must start with the ball in both hands and,
when the referee calls “Play”, pass the ball backwards through the
air to a member of their team. For safety reasons, no player may run
until the pass is made.
6. The Tackle:
a) A “Tackle” occurs when the ball carrier is held by one or more
opponents and is brought to ground. A ball carrier who is not held
is not a tackled player and a tackle has not taken place. Opposition
players who hold the ball carrier and bring that player to ground, and
who also go to ground, are known as tacklers. Opposition players
who hold the ball carrier and do not go to ground are not tacklers.
The tackle must include the use of arms.
b) Where the ball carrier remains on their feet the referee must call
“Tackle” (allowing approximately 3 seconds to establish whether the
ball carrier is held). Where the ball carrier is taken to ground, the
referee must also call “Tackle-Release”.
c) The ball carrier can run and dodge potential tacklers but cannot
fend off or hand off using their hands or the ball. The ball cannot be
pulled out of the ball carrier’s hands at any time.
d) When the referee says ‘’Tackle’’ the ball carrier must pass the ball to a supporting player from their own team, either from standing or from
the ground within 3 seconds of the call.
e) Once “Tackle” has been called the ball carrier can continue to go
forward (if on their feet), but must pass within 3 seconds.
f) The ball carrier cannot score a try once “Tackle” has been called and
must pass to a supporting player.
g) If the ball carrier is within a metre of their opponents’ goal line the
referee should allow the 3 seconds before calling “Tackle”. If the
player touches the ball down on or over the goal line within that time,
a try will be awarded.


h) The tackler must grasp the ball carrier below the armpits. The tackle
must include the use of arms.
i) The tackler may not contest the ball (grabbing it, blocking the
pass), but may attempt to to stop the ball carrier attempting to gain
j) More than one defender is allowed in the tackle, but must allow the
ball carrier to pass the ball.
k) Once the referee has called “Tackle”, the tackler can continue to
keep hold to prevent further forward movement of the ball carrier,
but must not prevent the ball carrier from passing the ball and must
release the ball carrier and re-join the game once the pass has been
made. If the tackle is made to ground, the tackler must release and
get to their feet as soon as possible, they must not contest the ball
nor block the pass and must get into an on-side position between
their goal line and the tackled player.
l) If the ball carrier has not been held for 3 seconds and the referee has
not called “Tackle”, the ball carrier is allowed to score a try or in one
movement (if on the ground) place the ball over the goal line.


m) When a tackle is made the attacking team should support from
n) The supporting players may not assist the ball carrier in moving
forward by either driving with the shoulder or binding on.
o) The supporting players must be behind or level with the ball carrier
to receive a pass. Any player that is passed the ball before, during or
after contact may run with it.
p) A supporting player may rip the ball from the ball carrier but must
then pass the ball immediately to a team mate.
q) Supporting players must not deliberately stand either side and in
close proximity to the ball carrier to prevent defenders from making
the next tackle.
r) A supporting player may pick the ball up from a tackled player or
ground, but must then pass the ball immediately to a team mate.
This player who passes the ball cannot be tackled.
s) When the tackle is made other opponents cannot prevent the ball
carrier from passing the ball.
t) At the tackle, opponents must stay 1m behind the hindmost foot of
the hindmost player. This represents the offside line and opponents
must retreat and stay behind the offside line or the goal line (if
closer) until the pass is made, otherwise they will be considered to
be offside.

7. Transitional Rugby Variation:

COMMENCEMENT OF THE MATCH. Where the players are confident
and proficient and to challenge them further: To reward good defence and
to promote the ball carrying team keeping the ball alive by passing the ball before being tackled, the team in possession of a ball will only be allowed to be tackled a maximum of 6 times before scoring a try. At the 7th tackle, the referee will stop the game and give the ball to the other team by awarding a free pass at the point that the tackle took place. If the 7th tackle takes place one or more metres from the goal line and the ball is grounded, the try will be disallowed and the opposition will be given the ball for a free pass 7 metres out from the goal line, in line with the point the goal line was crossed.

If the coaches and referee do not agree, the rules variations set out in point 7 above shall not apply.

8. Offside:

Offside only occurs at the time of the tackle. If a player, in an offside position,
intercepts, prevents or slows down a pass from the tackled player to a team
mate, a free pass will be awarded to the non-offending team. A player can,
however, run from an onside position to intercept a floated pass before it
reaches the intended receiver.

9. Infringements:

There is an emphasis on running with the ball, evasion, running in support
of the ball carrier and passing; and for the opponents on tackling the ball
carrier, prevent them going forward and to get back into the game. In Under
9 rugby the following are not permitted:
a) Contact above the armpits. If contact is above the armpits, the game
must be stopped, the offender spoken to, reminded of the contact
rules and a free pass awarded to the non-offending team.
b) Kicking of any kind.
c) Hand off or fend off (a hand off being the placing of an open palmed
hand by the ball carrier against an opponent’s face or body while
a fend off is an outstretched arm by the ball carrier towards an
opponent to discourage that person making a tackle) with a hand or
d) The ball must not be pulled from the ball carrier’s grasp by an
e) Contact with players not in possession.

10. Ball on the Ground:

a) Players must play rugby on their feet, with the ball in hand. If the
ball goes to ground, players should be encouraged to pick it up. If
they dive to recover the ball they must either get up with the ball,
pass the ball or release it immediately and be allowed to do so by the
b) If the ball is lost forward, a free pass is awarded to the non-offending
team unless advantage occurs to the non-offending team.
c) If the ball is passed other than forward and goes to ground play will
continue and either team may pick up the ball. If the ball rolls into
touch, a free pass will be awarded at five metres in from the touchline
to the opposition team.