Support for Parents

What to expect from a great rugby club

Rugby is everyone’s game and there is a game for everyone.

There is a form of rugby and a level of competition that is right for everyone – whether it’s 15-a-side, casual touch rugby or even walking rugby! Our game is a fantastic way to keep fit, improve your mental well-being and develop transferable skills.

But how do you choose the right club for you or your child? What should you look for to know that your child will be safe, looked after and given the best opportunity to be the best they can be? Here, we share some top tips on what to look for and what you should expect from a great rugby club.


Rugby is a values driven sport so explore what the club stands for through their values. This will be set by the members and brought to life through their behaviours so if the club values resonate with you, it’s likely that you will enjoy the experience of being part of the club.

Scottish Rugby’s core values of Leadership, Respect, Engagement, Enjoyment and Achievement ensures that rugby is an inclusive, safe and enjoyable game for everyone.

Good governance

The most effective rugby clubs have clear roles and responsibilities for their committees, coaches and volunteer members. This allows them to focus on developing the club, both on and off the park, constantly improving the rugby environment for everyone connected with the club.

Look to see that there are clear roles in place across the organisation, which should provide a level of comfort knowing that there is a plan in place to develop the club. Think about your own skillset and consider if there is something you could do to support the club as a volunteer.

Safeguarding practice

All sports, including rugby, should be a fun and safe place for children to be. They are learning new skills, making new friends and enjoying being part of a team. Understandably, parents should feel confident that the club their child attends has safeguarding as a priority.

All rugby clubs with youth sections are required to have a Child Protection Officer (CPO) in place. The CPO attends safeguarding training and is involved in the safe recruitment of volunteers in the club and all youth coaches are required to be member of the PVG scheme.

As a parent there are some things to consider when joining any new sports club:

  • Who is the club CPO and how easy is it for you to contact them?
  • Is it easy for your child to find out who the CPO is too?
  • Does the club have a Child Protection/Safeguarding Policy – is it on their website?
  • Does the club ensure that all appropriate coaches/volunteers join the PVG Scheme?
  • Have their coaches/volunteers gone through Child Protection and Safeguarding training?
  • Do they take details from you on joining – medical/allergy information, next of kin, any special requirements, consent forms for things like photos of your child?
  • Do they have trained First Aiders?
  • Do they have social media policy for contacting young people?
  • Does your child enjoy their time at the club?
  • Are they happy to take parental feedback/answer your concerns?

For more information and advice for parents please refer to our safeguarding page which also has a section for parents. You can also contact us at [email protected]

Childrens Rights Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA)

Introduced In December 2018 the Scottish Government laid before the Scottish Parliament the Progressing the Human Rights of Children in Scotland: 2018-2021 Action Plan and the Progressing the Human Rights of Children in Scotland: Report 2018, in line with the duties placed on Scottish Ministers under Part 1 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.

Scottish Rugby has completed our Childrens Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment, which can be found below.

Girls’ and women’s rugby

Girls’ and women’s rugby has become one of the fastest growing sports in the world and there are now more opportunities than ever to get playing. Great rugby clubs provide opportunities for their entire community so you should expect to see your local club providing opportunities for girls’ and women to play the game.

Click here to understand game play opportunities and the formats of the game on offer across Scotland.

Good coaching

Coaching is central to developing, sustaining and increasing participation in rugby union as well as improving performance at all levels. Find out about how the club promotes and supports coach education within their coaching teams.

Scottish Rugby offer a range of qualifications and workshops to suit coaches differing aspirations and are delivered across all of our regions in Scotland);

The game is Scotland is structured in a way that the skills and contact elements are layered in a staged manner to reflect the experience of the players. Great rugby clubs follow key programmes to ensure all coaching and playing is carried out in as safe an environment as possible.

Age Grade Law Variations: the game on TV isn’t the one that children and young people play. The game progresses incrementally so that players are introduced to key skills in line with their physical development and experience

Rugbyright: every coach undertakes training around concussion management, injury prevention and safeguarding each season. To find out more about Rugby Right, click here.

Activate: a warmup programme devised by World Rugby and the University of Bath which as show to reduce injuries in youth players – all coaches have access to this resource and are taken through it as part of the Coaching Essentials Programme.

If in doubt sit them out: as with other sports, concussions occasional happen in rugby. Scottish Rugby works with sportscotland (the government agency for sport) and other sports across Scotland to ensure all coaches know how to deal with potential concussions – by removing the player immediately from the game. Player welfare is at the heart of all decisions made by coaches.

Club development plans

A club development plan is designed to help clubs to plan for the future. It will help a club to have a clear purpose and will encourage a coordinated approach in order to achieve this.

There are a number of reasons why good planning is important: a secure future, to attract new members, to develop volunteering, to support club staff and volunteers and to ensure efficient use of resources. As a parent of a player at the club, it is within your interests to know that a plan exists, or at least the club is working towards one, and it being used to provide a clear direction for your club’s development. Again, think about your own skillset and consider if there is something you could do to help achieve the vision of the club.

Player development in focus

In order to create and sustain a quality, player-centered environment, clubs should have a clear and transparent plan in place to nurture and develop all players across their teams.

As a parent or carer, you should consider what the club is doing at key transition points to ensure continued participation and development opportunities exist within the club’s plans. Seek to find out about the role that parents and carers play in the development journey of young players at the club and how you can support this.

Some points for you to consider include:

  1. How are players involved in their own development and wider club/school development?
  2. Does the environment cater for all levels and player ability?
  3. What are the key transition points (do the club help you know what these are) within the club environment and how are these supported?
  4. Do players receive individual development opportunities and feedback?
  5. Is there alignment between age groups?
  6. How are ‘talented’ players identified and nurtured and as a parent/guardian are you aware of this?
  7. Does the Club have suitably qualified and experienced coaches delivering at each age group/stage of rugby development?
  8. Is there great training and support available for your children’s coaches within the club?
  9. As a parent do you feel engaged in your players development?

What next?

Once you’ve considered what a great club should look like, find your nearest club to suit your needs and there will be plenty going on over the course of the season for you to enjoy!

Volunteer for your local club

Once you’ve considered what a great club should look like, find your nearest club to suit your needs and there will be plenty going on over the course of the season for you to enjoy!

How to be a great rugby parent?

All sports including rugby, should be a fun place for children to be. They are learning new skills, making new friends and enjoying being part of a team.

Rugby is Everyone’s Game and Scottish Rugby is committed to creating high quality environments on and off the park and you, as a parent, have a role to play.

Parents are hugely influential when it comes to young people’s participation in sport. In most cases they are the reason their child starts playing and young people often state how their parents watching them play is a source of enjoyment to them.

The positive encouragement and support of your child can’t be over emphasised. How you behave and what you say will have huge impact on how your child experiences the game.

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