Medical research into boys' rugby strongly indicates that there is an increased risk of serious injury when under-16 players play under-18 rugby, and when under-18 players play adult rugby. It is Scottish Rugby's policy that the age at which male players are allowed to play under-18 rugby is 16 years old.
Girls may play under-18 rugby aged 15 years old and this difference is due to the relative physical maturity of 15-year-old girls when compared to boys.
It will remain Scottish Rugby policy that the age at which any player is permitted to play adult rugby is 18 years old. Exceptions below.
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Are You Ready to Play Rugby? administrator
After a club consultation period in January 2013, Scottish Rugby, through the Board, adopted the following policy for the 2013-14 season.
All players must apply for dispensation, even those who were granted dispensation last year. Applications open on Monday 15 July 2013.
There have been no changes in the under-16 into under-18 policy for season 2013-14
Download the Male under-16 into under-18 policy (pdf)
We are now accepting applications for season 2013-14. To apply, please
On receipt of application forms an acknowledgment email will be sent to the main contact (usually the coach).
All players wishing to be put through the exception process must attend a physical maturrity assessment - these will be organised on an ad-hoc basis from this point forward, and the date and venue of these centres cannot be guaranteed.
In exceptional cases a player may be given dispensation to participate in rugby at a level below their true age grade, due to an existing or previous medical disability (physical or behavioural). Any dispensation, if granted, would only be valid for one season, and would only allow players to play down one age grade, in a specific team.
If a club or school wishes to apply for such a dispensation for a player they must make a written submission to Scottish Rugby, including any supporting evidence of the player's condition. The player and their coach must have completed the online IRB Rugby Ready course (www.irbrugbyready.com), and submissions should be signed by the player's parent or guardian and coach.
Submissions will be considered on a case-by-case basis by Scottish Rugby's medical team.
Scottish Rugby recommends that male school rugby is played in a maximum of two year age bandings.
For example, players in S1 can play with the S2 year group, but not with the S3s. Where clubs or schools need to combine age groupings (e.g. S1 and S2), the lower age grade law variation (S1) should be applied.
Age Grade Law Variations (pdf)
It is the policy of Scottish Rugby that children can begin their introduction to training and playing contact rugby from the age that they enter their 4th year of primary school. Children of Primary 1 to 3 years of age should participate in non-contact versions of the game like tag rugby, focusing on the development of basic movement and coordination skills.
Further information on what to prioritise at each age and stage of a child and young person's development in rugby is available in Scottish Rugby's Long Term Development Strategy (LTPD). Please note Scottish Rugby's insurance policy covers participation in the game from the age of 5 (Primary 1) to 55 years of age.