Under 12 Rules
KEY STAGE 2 MINI RUGBY UNDER 12
12.1 The object of the game is to score a try (5 points) and conversion (2 points)
in accordance with the Laws of the Game.
12.2 Teams will be made up of twelve players, five (and no more) of whom will
be forwards, with the remaining seven forming the back line.
12.3 At this age, the game will start with, and recommence the second half
with, a kick-off from the centre of the field. All other restarts will be with
a drop kick. The kicker’s team must be behind the ball until it has been
kicked and the receiving team must be at least 7 metres back from the ball.
LAW 13 - KICK-OFF AND RESTART KICKS If, from the kick-off, the ball is kicked
directly into touch, the opposition has the choice of: • The kick-off
to be taken again • Their throw-in to a scrum at the centre spot • Accepting
the kick and contesting a line-out at the half-way line.
If, from the kick-off, the ball goes directly into in-goal and is then immediately
touched down or made ‘dead’, or the ball goes into touch-in-goal,
the opposition has the choice of: • The kick-off to be taken again • Their
throw-in to a scrum at the centre spot.
LAW 20 - SCRUM The scrummage will be made up of five players from each team
- the front row (a row of three players, and no more, i.e. a prop on either
side of the hooker) and two locks forming the second row. 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 front rows from each team will bind together approximately half a metre
apart, and the locks will bind to each other and to the props. Each prop will
then touch the upper arm of his opponent, and then pause before the engagement.
The referee will talk the players through the engagement procedure in the sequence
Crouch, Touch, Pause, and Engage. On the grounds of safety, it is important
that the referee manages the engagement of every scrum in this way.
SCRUM SAFETY GUIDANCE FOR REFEREES AND COACHES • Front rows must not
be allowed to charge at each other • If they start to engage too close
together, and with necks and backs bent they must be stopped and the scrummage
reformed • Props’ body positions should be parallel to the touchline
(not boring in) • Locks must bind round the hips of the props - not through
the props’ legs • There should be no downward pressure exerted by
hands or arms • If the scrummage collapses, the whistle should immediately
be blown and the appropriate penalty awarded, or the scrummage reset • If
a player is persistently involved in collapsing or illegal binding he must
be replaced • If a player’s lack of technique or strength is a danger
then he should be replaced • In the absence of any adequate replacement,
there is no choice (on safety grounds) other than to go to an uncontested scrummage.
This applies at any age level. In an uncontested scrum the teams do not contest
for the ball. The team throwing in the ball must win it. Neither team is allowed
to push the other team away from the mark.
In all other situations, the Laws of the Game of Rugby Union Football apply
with the following exceptions:
Under no circumstances is the scrum to be: • Pushed more than 1.5 metres
towards either try line Penalty: A free kick against the side, which pushes
the scrum at the original spot.
• Wheeled more than 45 degrees Penalty: If a team intentionally wheels
a scrum, a penalty kick will be awarded against that side. If the scrum is
wheeled more than 45 degrees without a penalty kick award, the scrum will be
reset with the same team throwing the ball in.
The scrum-half not throwing the ball into the scrum may remain alongside his
opponent. He must not move beyond the middle-line of ths scrum until the ball
has emerged from the scrummage or an opponent has placed his hand on the ball.
In the event of a strike against the head, the scrum-half who has thrown the
ball in is similarly restricted in not following the ball.
12.4 If the ball or player carrying the ball goes out of play, a contested
line-out at the point at which the ball or players crossed the touchline will
take place. A quick throw-in is permitted.
THE LINE-OUT • The line-out will be made up of two, three or four players
from each team, plus the player throwing the ball in and an immediate opponent,
who must stand within the 2 metre area, and one player from either side in
a position to receive the ball (i.e. scrum-half). Both the thrower-in and his
immediate opponent are able to take an active role in the game as soon as the
ball has been touched by one of the players contesting the line-out. • The
line-out will extend from 2 to 10 metres from the touchline. Should the ball
be thrown beyond 10 metres, the opposition will be awarded the throw. Should
the opposition then throw beyond 10 metres, a scrum will be awarded to the
side originally throwing in. All ‘peeling off’ movements must be
close to and parallel with the line-out. Players must keep moving. • Lifting
/ supporting is prohibited at this level (i.e. a player may not bind to a jumper
until he / she has returned to the ground). • The offside line for all
players not participating in the line-out (all players other than those described
under Rule 12.4 above) will be 7 metres back from the line of touch parallel
to the goal-line and they must remain behind that offside line until the line-out
LAW 19 - LINE-OUT The line-out begins when the ball leaves the hands of the
player throwing it in. The line-out ends when the ball, or a player carrying
it, leaves the line-out. This includes the following: • When the ball
is thrown, knocked or kicked out of the line-out • When a line-out player
hands the ball to a player who is peeling close to and parallel to the line. • When
a ruck or maul develops in a line-out, and both feet of all the players in
the ruck or maul move beyond the line of touch • When the ball becomes
unplayable in a line-out. Play restarts with a scrum.
12.5 FOLLOWING A TACKLE: Full tackling, as opposed to the touch tackle, is
now permitted in all age groups from under-9 upwards. The tackler must immediately
release the tackled player and get up or move away from the tackled player
and the ball. The tackler must get up before playing the ball.
The tackled player must immediately pass or release the ball and must get
up or move away from the ball. The tackled player may put the ball on the ground
in any direction, or may push the ball along the ground in any direction, except
forward (towards the opposition try line). providing this is done immediately.
Any player who has the ball and is on their feet (except in a maul) can be
tackled as laid down in Law 15 of the Laws of the Game.
At a tackle, or near to a tackle, other players who play the ball must do
so from behind the ball and from behind the tackled player, or the tackler
closest to those player’s goal-line.
PENALTY KICK Any player who first gains possession of the ball at the tackle
or near to it may be tackled by an opposition player, providing that player
does so from behind the ball and from behind the tackled player or tackler
nearest that player’s goal-line. Penalty: Penalty kick.
Note 1: Any tackle level with or above the armpit is to be considered a high
tackle. Penalty: Penalty kick to the ball-carrier’s team.
Note 2: The scrag type tackle (i.e. swinging the player round by the shirt)
is to be considered dangerous play and must be penalised. Penalty: Penalty
kick to the ball-carrier’s team.
Note 3: Where a ruck or maul occurs, the offside line for players not in the
ruck or maul is at the hindmost foot on their side of the ruck or maul. Penalty:
A penalty kick to the non-offending team.
LAW NOTES: DEFINITION
LAW 17 - MAUL A maul occurs when a player carrying the ball is held by one
or more opponents, and one or more of the ball-carrier’s team-mates bind
on to the ball-carrier. It is helpful if the referee calls ‘maul formed’. • All
the players involved are on their feet. • A maul ends successfully when
the ball or a player with the ball leaves the maul. • A maul ends successfully
when the ball is on the ground, or is on or over the goal-line. • A maul
ends unsuccessfully if the ball becomes unplayable or collapses (not as a result
of foul play) and a scrum is awarded. • When a maul remains stationary
or has stopped moving forward for more than 5 seconds, but the ball is being
moved and the referee can see it, a reasonable time is allowed for the ball
to emerge. If it does not emerge within a reasonable time, a scrum is ordered.
It is helpful in all maul situations if the referee calls “use it or
lose it” prior to awarding a scrum. • When a maul has stopped moving
forward it may start moving forward again providing it does so within 5 seconds.
If the maul stops moving forward for a second time, and if the ball is being
moved and the referee can see it, a reasonable time is allowed for the ball
to emerge. A scrum is awarded if it does not emerge within a reasonable time.
Scrum following maul The ball is thrown in by the team not in possession when
the maul began. If the referee cannot decide which team had possession, the
team moving before the maul stopped throws in the ball. If neither team was
moving forward, the attacking team throws in the ball.
Summary At least three players form the maul, all on their feet; the ball-carrier
and one player from each team.
LAW 16 - RUCK A ruck occurs where one or more players from each team, who
are on their feet, in physical contact, close around the ball on the ground.
Players are rucking when they are in a ruck and using their feet to try to
win or keep possession of the ball, without being guilty of foul play. • A
ruck ends successfully when the ball leaves the ruck, or when the ball is on
or over the goal-line. • A ruck ends unsuccessfully when the ball becomes
unplayable and a scrum is awarded.
Scrum following ruck The team that was moving forward immediately before the
ball became unplayable in the ruck throws in the ball. If neither team was
moving forward, or if the referee cannot decide which team was moving forward
before the ball became unplayable in the ruck, the team that was moving forward
before the ruck began throws in the ball. If neither team was moving forward,
then the attacking team throws in the ball. Before the referee blows the whistle
for a scrum, the referee allows a reasonable amount of time for the ball to
emerge. If the ruck stops moving, or if the referee decides that the ball will
probably not emerge within a reasonable time, the referee must order a scrum.
Summary The ball is on the ground with at least one player from each team
on their feet, close to the ball, and in physical contact. It is helpful if
the referee calls “ruck formed”.
12.6 If, after a tackle, the ball becomes unplayable, a contested scrummage
is awarded. The scrummage is awarded to the team that was moving forward immediately
prior to the tackle or, if no team was moving forward, to the attacking team
(the team in the opponents’ half of the pitch). At all penalty kicks,
the offending team must retire 7 metres towards their own goal-line from the
place where the penalty kick is awarded (see 12.11).
12.7 A player must not hand-off or fend-off an opponent in any way. A hand-off
or fend-off is defined as ‘any movement of the hand, arm or ball to ward
off a would-be tackler’. Penalty: A penalty kick to the opposition.
Note: Players are recommended to carry the ball in two hands.
12.8 All the Laws of the Game pertaining to kicking in open play will apply,
with the following exceptions: • Players may only kick the ball out of
their hands • The offside zone ahead of the kicker is 7, rather than 10,
metres. Kicking the ball when it is on the ground other than for starts, restarts
and tap penalties (often called fly hacking) is not permitted. Penalty: A penalty
kick to the non-offending team.
12.9 After a try has been scored, the team can attempt to convert the try
into a goal. The kick at goal will take place from anywhere in front of the
12.10 After a try or goal has been scored, the game will restart with a drop
kick from the centre of the half-way line.
12.11 When an infringement occurs, as per the Laws of the Game, a penalty
or free kick will be awarded. The referee will make a mark for the kick. The
opposition will retire quickly to 7 metres from the mark. If the kick is taken
so quickly that opponents have no opportunity to retire, they will not be penalised
for this. However, they must continue to retire, until a team-mate who was
standing 7 metres from the mark has run in front of them. The opposing team
must not do anything to delay the penalty kick or obstruct the kicker. Any
infringement by the opposing team Results in a second penalty 7 metres in front
of the mark for the first kick. On the second occasion the kick will not be
taken until all opponents have retired 7 metres. No penalty or free kick can
be taken within 7 metres of the goal-line.
12.12 After any stoppage not covered in the Rules, the game shall restart
with a scrummage to the team who was moving forward, or, if neither team was
moving forward, to the team who was last in possession of the ball.
12.13 A game will be made up of two equal halves, each of not more than 20
minutes duration. During the interval, coaches should take adequate time to
talk to, encourage, coach and explain the game to players.
1. A size 4 ball should be used.
2. Tackling must be introduced progressively, using the stages described in
the Mini/Midi Foundation or Mini/Midi Level 1 Coaches Handbooks.
3. The formation of the scrummage must be introduced in a progressive way
following the stages described in ‘Even Better Rugby’ with great
emphasis placed on body position, foot placement, binding, throwing the ball
into the scrummage and hooking techniques.
4. In order to give a balance between coaching and playing, fixtures should
be arranged to allow at least one Sunday coaching / training session between
matches. At this age, players may play a maximum of fourteen fixtures and not
more than three festivals (one in the Constituent Body and two others) in any
season. The emphasis remains on providing the children with an enjoyable introduction
to the skills of the game. Competition is of secondary importance.
5. If there is an insufficient number of players to play Midi Rugby (12-a-side),
they should play Mini Rugby (9-a-side) still in their under-12 age group. Where
clubs have large squads, additional fixtures / festivals might be arranged,
provided that no player plays in more than the maximum number.
(a) Fixture / Triangular Fixture: The playing of Mini Rugby between teams
of different schools / clubs, not more than three schools / clubs being involved
together on any one day.
(b) Festival / Competition: The playing of Mini Rugby between more than three
teams of different schools / clubs on a league basis, normally to establish
a winner, all games taking place being part of one event.
At festivals no player is to play in more than 5 games.
Under 11 / under 12 match durations Fixture: 20 minutes each way • 1
game = 40 minutes Triangular: 15 minutes each way • 2 games = 60 minutes
Festival / tournament: 7 minutes each way • Maximum of 5 games = 70 minutes
In all age groups matches must not be consecutive. A minimum period of 15
minutes should elapse after a game prior to a team playing again.
7. Games should be shortened if one side is scoring too freely (i.e. if the
points difference rises to more than 30).
8. The emphasis should be on enjoyment. The children should be encouraged
to enjoy the physical skills of running, passing and evasion, and they should
be coached according to material available in the Mini/Midi Foundation or Level
1 coaching courses.
9. A practical coaching session that includes talks and videos, etc., should
last no longer than two hours with a maximum of 40 minutes devoted to match
10. On match days against outside opposition, a coaching session should normally
precede the match. Matches should be used as an extension of the coaching session,
with the emphasis being on the quality of performance rather than the result.
11. The RFU strongly recommends the wearing of mouthguards. Ideally mouthguards
should be custom made from a dental impression of the teeth. Individuals may
choose to wear shinguards.
12. Coaches and Referees are advised to check studs and other approved clothing
before training sessions, games or tournaments in accordance with the Laws
of the Game.
In this version of the game, there is: • NO HAND-OFF / FEND-OFF