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Learning Rugby Laws


The Small Blacks Development Model has been developed to ensure that there is a consistency of play, coaching and player welfare at all levels throughout the country, and is a great way of getting kids involved in team sports.

 Y3 - U8  Y4 - U9  Y5 - U10 Y6 - U11 COMMENTS
 Numbers on Field  10  10  10 10  These numbers are maximums. If a team doesn’t have enough players to start a game, it should then be played with equal numbers.
 Field Size  1/2 1/2 1/2 1/2  1/2 = goal to 10m (across the field). Full size posts on one touchline need to have bolsters on them.
 Try  5pts 5pts 5pts 5pts  If score blow-cuts are occurring (ie 35= at halftime), both coaches MUST meet and come to an agreement as to how they can generate a more even contest.
 Conversion  0  0  0 0  U8 to U10 conversions taken from in front of posts either drop goal or punt. Points don't count.
 Ball Size  3  3  3 3  
 Subs  1/4 time 1/4 time 1/4 time 1/4 time  All players must play a minimum of half a game (this is to include at least two full quarters). 
Rolling substitutions are not permitted. 
Substitutions may be made at half time or approximately half way through each half when the referee will allow and signal a Substitution Break. This applies to representative games.
 Scrums  5 person  5 person   5 person 5 person  No Pushing and no contest. Safety is a paramount.
 Lineout  5 person  5 person  5 person 5 person Lineouts not to be contested until U11 grade.. There is to be no lineout lifting at any level.
 Penalty  Tap & Pass Tap & Pass Tap & Pass Tap & Pass  
 Kicking (general play)  Encourage running & passing  Encourage running & passing  Encourage running & passing Normal  
 Length of Game  2 x 25 2 x 25 2 x 25 2 x 25  These are maximums.
 Referee  Yes  Yes  Yes Yes  If no Learning Rugby referee, there will be no tackling
 Tackle  Tackle Yes
No fending to the head, face or neck regions
 No fending to the head, face or neck regions  No fending to the head, face or neck regions  A ‘tackle clinic’ sessions must be carried out by all U8 coaches before the season kicks off. Tackle must be below the nipple.
 Kick-Off  Tap & Pass  Punt or drop-kick by the
scoring side
Punt or drop-kick by the
scoring side
Punt or drop-kick by the
scoring side
 At U10 and below, kick-offs to be rotated through the players. there will be no lifting from kick-starts.


These laws complement laws outlined in the Small Blacks Development Model.


  • A try is scored by grounding the ball on or over the goal line.
  • The scoring team will restart play with a punt or drop kick from halfway.
  • Under 8 only - The non-scoring team will restart play with a tap kick from halfway.
  • The opposing team will be back five metres from halfway.


  • A player must not tackle an opponent whose feet are off the ground.
  • The tackled player must release the ball when either the player or the ball is grounded.


  • The side throwing the ball in to the scrum wins the ball, i.e. no contest and no pushing.
  • The opposing team cannot advance until the halfback has played the ball.
  • The opposing halfback must not advance past the middle line i.e. tunnel.


  • The side throwing the ball in to the lineout wins the ball (Unless U11). If the ball is not caught or goes over the back, the ball becomes "fair game".
  • If the throw isn't straight, advantage applies to the non-offending team, otherwise normal law applies.
  • The two lines of players must be one metre apart.
  • Backlines must stand five metres from the line of touch (centre line).


  • Players must not join from the side.
  • Players must be bound to the maul or behind the last player.
  • Players must not collapse a maul.


  • The defending team will be five metres back from the infringement mark.
  • All penalties are tapped on the ground.


  • All other domestic safety law variations apply.


  • The home team will provide a referee or Learning Rugby referee to officiate.
  • If no referee or Learning Rugby referee from the home team is available, then a referee or Learning Rugby referee from the visiting team will officiate.
  • It is recommended that one referee will control the entire match.