Rugby Union regulations for 2019 - 20 | Updated 11 October

RUU i The BUCS Rugby Union Championships shall be conducted in accordance with the following BUCS sport specific regulations, the BUCS general regulations, and the World Rugby Laws of the Game.

RUU ii In the event that these regulations contradict the BUCS general regulations, these BUCS sport specific regulations will supersede, unless specifically stated otherwise.

RUU iii In the event that these regulations contradict those of the World Rugby Laws of the Game, these BUCS sport specific regulations will supersede, unless specifically stated otherwise.


RUU 1 There shall be separate Team Championships for Men and Women. The programme for each Championships shall include leagues and knockout competitions as per BUCS general regulations, Appendix 1 (‘BUCS Competition Offer and Associated BUCS Points’) and Appendix 10 (‘BUCS Promotion, Relegation and Knockout Information’).

RUU 2 Playing surface All matches should be played on grass or World Rugby approved artificial surface as per World Rugby Law 1.1 and World Rugby Regulation 22. It is the responsibility of the first named (home) team when confirming the fixture (note REG 9.5) to advise the opposition team and all match officials of the playing surface and on any footwear restrictions and the type of surface to be used (note REG 9.3.3).

RUU 3 Match officials Match officials should be appointed as per Appendix 5 (‘BUCS Match Officials Requirements’).

RUU 3.1 Officials for all BUCS Super Rugby league fixtures and Men's Championship knockout competition fixtures will be appointed centrally by the RFU (in England) and WRU (in Wales), with the addition of a 4th official being required.

RUU 3.2 For Men’s North/South 1/2 league fixtures, the RFU central appointments body or the local appointments body will appoint the referee and where possible touch judges. The first named (home) institution/Playing Entity is responsible for confirming appointments have been made, for contacting the officials concerned with match information, and covering the costs of the appointments.

RUU 3.2.1 Where officials (referee and/or touch judges) are not appointed centrally, the host institution shall be responsible for sourcing the necessary officials.

RUU 4 Health and safety

RUU 4.1 Rules regarding players’ protective clothing, studs etc. shall follow the rules as laid down by the respective Home Union in which the relevant match is played and teams should be aware of the different regulations in place for each of the Home Unions.

RUU 4.2 No underwired bras are to be worn for contact rugby.

RUU 4.3 All teams are expected to provide their own first aid kit, gloves, water spray bottles and sterile wipes for the treatment of blood injuries. The use of buckets and sponges is discouraged. Current Home Union and World Rugby guidelines for treatment of blood injuries are to be adhered to.

RUU 4.4 The first named (home) team should ensure there is access to a telephone at all fixtures for emergencies.

RUU 5 Duration of play

RUU 5.1 Men’s and Women’s Premier Tier/Tier 1 leagues and Championship/Vase/Trophy knockout competitions All matches shall consist of two periods of 40 minutes and a half-time interval of 10 minutes. Teams shall change ends at half-time.

RUU 5.2 All other leagues and knockout competitions All matches shall consist of two periods of 40 minutes and a half-time interval of no less than five minutes, with 10 minutes being the preferred duration. Teams shall change ends at half-time.

RUU 6 Ties in knockout competition matches In the event of a tie after normal time, the outcome of the match shall be determined as follows:

RUU 6.1 There shall be a five minute break. After this break, the teams will change ends and there shall be a period of extra time between the teams of 10 minutes each way, with a one minute interval. If the scores are then still equal;

RUU 6.2 The team that has scored most tries shall be declared the winners. If this does not produce a result;

RUU 6.3 The team that has scored the most goals from tries shall be declared the winners. If no result is achieved at this point, the result shall be decided as follows;

RUU 6.3.1 Each team shall nominate one player from its number on the field of play at the final whistle to participate on its behalf in a place kicking competition;

RUU 6.3.2 Starting with the kicker from the team that had the initial match kick-off, each kicker in turn shall attempt a place kick from the pre-determined positions indicated in RUU 6.3.4 until such time as, after an equal number of attempts, one kicker has kicked more goals than the other;

RUU 6.3.3 These attempts will be made towards the goal posts nearest the players’ entrance tunnel to the pitch or in the event of both sets of goal posts being of equal distance from the players’ entrance tunnel the goal posts to the left of the said tunnel when emerging from it;

RUU 6.3.4 The attempts will be taken from the following positions in turn, repeating the sequence until a winner is decided:

  • The centre of the 22-metre line;
  • The intersection of 22-metre and 15-metre lines to left of posts facing;
  • The intersection of 22-metre and 5-metre lines to left of posts facing;
  • The intersection of 22-metre and 15-metre lines to right of posts facing;
  • The intersection of 22-metre and 5-metre lines to right of posts facing.

RUU 7 Minimum number of players for a fixture to start The minimum number of players per team required for a fixture to start will be 10.

RUU 8 Replacements, front row requirements, scrummage and player matching

RUU 8.1 Front row players AND replacements must be identified to the referee before each match and denoted on all team sheets by writing ‘(FR)’ next to each player’s name.

RUU 8.2 Front row players, except for full internationals, can move up or down one team from their starting selection to play in a front row position only. For example, a 2nd team prop may play for the 1st team, or the 3rd team, in a front row position only. However, teams should be aware that REG 11.1.4 still applies.

RUU 8.2.1 For playoff fixtures, players shall only be eligible to move down one team if it can be evidenced that they are covering an injured front row player.

RUU 8.3 Uncontested scrums An uncontested scrum is defined as the same as for normal scrummages except that:

RUU 8.3.1 There is no contest for the ball.

RUU 8.3.2 The team putting the ball in must win it.

RUU 8.3.3 Neither team is permitted to push.

RUU 8.3.4 Normal rules regarding offside and binding still apply.

RUU 8.4 BUCS Super Rugby league matches and Men’s Championship knockout competition matches

RUU 8.4.1 A maximum of seven replacements per team may be named and used. Rolling substitutions are used in these competitions, with teams limited to 12 interchanges per match. At least five of the nominated squad (irrespective of squad size, but maximum 22) must be able to play in front row positions. Teams will be allowed a 23 player squad if they field an additional front row replacement on the bench to ensure cover of all three front row positions (Loosehead Prop, Hooker and Tighthead Prop) at the first time of asking. This falls in line with World Rugby Law 3.8.

RUU 8.4.2 A team unable to start the match with at least five suitably trained front row players will be deemed to have conceded a walkover. If the above requirements were met pre-match but during the match a team reaches a point where a front row cannot be replaced, then the match shall continue with uncontested scrums. World Rugby Law 3.17 shall apply, whether a 22 or 23 player squad.

RUU 8.4.3 All matches will be played to full World Rugby scrummage regulations.

RUU 8.5 Men’s North 1/South 1/North 2/South 2/Tier 1 league matches and Vase/Trophy knockout competition matches

RUU 8.5.1 A maximum of seven replacements per team may be named and used. Rolling substitutions are used in these competitions, with unlimited interchanges allowed per match. At least five of the nominated squad (irrespective of squad size, but maximum 22) must be able to play in front row positions.

RUU 8.5.2 A team unable to start the match with at least five suitably trained front row players will be deemed to have conceded a walkover. If the above requirements were met pre-match but during the match a team reaches a point where a front row cannot be replaced, then the match shall continue with uncontested scrums. World Rugby Law 3.17 shall apply, regardless of squad size.

RUU 8.5.3 All matches will be played to full World Rugby scrummage regulations.

RUU 8.6 Men’s Tier 2 – Tier 4 league matches and Conference Cup knockout competition matches featuring only teams from Tier 2 – Tier 4 (plus all Conference Cup matches from the round of 16 onwards)

RUU 8.6.1 A maximum of seven replacements per team may be named and used. Rolling substitutions are used in these competitions, with unlimited interchanges allowed per match. The number of suitably trained and experienced front row players of the nominated squad (maximum 22 players) must conform to the following:

Number of Suitably Trained and Experienced Front Row Players

Number of Players in Squad

Three players who can play in the front row

15 or less

Four players who can play in the front row

16, 17 or 18

Five players who can play in the front row

19, (20, 21 or 22)

When 19, 20, 21 or 22 players are nominated in a team there must be five players who can play in the front row to ensure that on the first occasion that a replacement hooker is required and, on the first occasion that a replacement prop forward is required, the team can continue to play safely with contested scrums. If at the second time of asking there is no suitably trained front row replacement then the World Rugby Laws will be followed, even if with a 22 player squad.

RUU 8.6.2 A team unable to start the match with at least three suitably trained front row players will be deemed to have conceded a walkover. If the above requirements were met pre-match but during the match a team reaches a point where a front row cannot be replaced, then the match shall continue with uncontested scrums. World Rugby Law 3.17 shall apply, regardless of squad size.

RUU 8.6.3 Matches in England and Wales will be played to full World Rugby scrummage regulations. Matches in Scotland will be played to World Rugby U19 scrummage regulations.

RUU 8.7 Men’s Tier 5 and below league matches and Conference Cup/Plate/Bowl knockout competition matches featuring at least one team from Tier 5 or below (with the exception of Conference Cup matches from the round of 16 onwards)

RUU 8.7.1 A maximum of seven replacements per team may be named and used. Rolling substitutions are used in these competitions, with unlimited interchanges allowed per match. Teams are permitted to field up to a full squad of 22 players without a qualified front row. However, the below penalties of RUU 8.7.3 will apply.

RUU 8.7.2 Priority must be given to the highest placed team from an institution/Playing Entity downwards. Therefore, a higher placed team may not start a match with uncontested scrums whilst any lower teams are starting matches on the same day with contested scrums.

RUU 8.7.3 In the event of a team being unable to field a suitably trained front row at the start of a match resulting in uncontested scrums being played, the result shall stand. However, teams that play 50% of matches or more with uncontested scrums will not be eligible for promotion. As per RUU 8.2 all front row players should be indicated on team sheets. Teams will be required to validate their eligibility for promotion by submitting their team sheets to the BUCS Executive at the end of the season. Non-offending teams should report the offending team using the form found in the BUCS website Rugby Union pages.

RUU 8.7.4 If a match starts with contested scrums but during the match a team reaches a point where a front row cannot be replaced, then the match shall continue with uncontested scrums. World Rugby Law 3.17 shall not apply, therefore a player whose departure has caused the referee to order uncontested scrums can be replaced.

RUU 8.7.5 Matches in England and Wales will be played to full World Rugby scrummage regulations. Matches in Scotland will be played to World Rugby U19 scrummage regulations.

RUU 8.8 Women’s National league matches and Championship knockout competition matches

RUU 8.8.1 A maximum of seven replacements per team may be named and used. Rolling substitutions is used in these competitions, with unlimited interchanges allowed per match. At least five of the nominated squad (irrespective of squad size, but maximum 22) must be able to play in front row positions. Teams will be allowed a 23 player squad if they field an additional front row replacement on the bench to ensure cover of all three front row positions (Loosehead Prop, Hooker and Tighthead Prop) at the first time of asking. This falls in line with World Rugby Law 3.8.

RUU 8.8.2 A team unable to start the match with at least five suitably trained front row players will be deemed to have conceded a walkover. If the above requirements were met pre-match but during the match a team reaches a point where a front row cannot be replaced, then the match shall continue with uncontested scrums. World Rugby Law 3.17 shall apply, whether a 22 or 23 player squad.

RUU 8.8.3 All matches will be played to full World Rugby scrummage regulations.

RUU 8.9 Women’s North/South league matches and Vase knockout competition matches

RUU 8.9.1 A maximum of seven replacements per team may be named and used. Rolling substitutions are used in these competitions, with unlimited interchanges allowed per match. The number of suitably trained and experienced front row players of the nominated squad (maximum 22 players) must conform to the following:

Number of Suitably Trained and Experienced Front Row Players

Number of Players in Squad

Three players who can play in the front row

15 or less

Four players who can play in the front row

16, 17 or 18

Five players who can play in the front row

19, (20, 21 or 22)

When 19, 20, 21 or 22 players are nominated in a team there must be five players who can play in the front row to ensure that on the first occasion that a replacement hooker is required and, on the first occasion that a replacement prop forward is required, the team can continue to play safely with contested scrums. If at the second time of asking there is no suitably trained front row replacement then the World Rugby Laws will be followed, even if with a 22 player squad.

RUU 8.9.2 Teams unable to start the match with at least three suitably trained front row players may play with uncontested scrums without forfeit. For this to be the case, the team without a front row must inform their opposition that they are unable to provide a front row 24 hours in advance of the advertised kick-off time. However, teams that play more than three matches with uncontested scrums will be deducted three league points and face possible further disciplinary action. Non-offending teams should report the offending team using the form found in the BUCS website Rugby Union pages. Failure to provide 24 hours’ notice will entitle the non-offending team to claim a walkover. Should 24 hours’ notice not be given and the non-offending team agrees to play with uncontested scrums then they are not entitled to claim a walkover retrospectively.

RUU 8.9.3 If the above requirements were met pre-match but during the match a team reaches a point where a front row cannot be replaced, then the match shall continue with uncontested scrums. World Rugby Law 3.17 shall apply, regardless of squad size.

RUU 8.9.4 All matches will be played according to full World Rugby scrummage regulations.

RUU 8.9.4.1 Teams can opt to play their matches using World Rugby U19 scrummage regulations. This must be agreed in writing and signed by each team’s captain and the match referee. No penalty will apply, there will be no option to submit a ‘Playing Under Protest’ form, and the result will stand.

RUU 8.10 Women’s Tier 1 league matches and Trophy knockout competition matches

RUU 8.10.1 A maximum of seven replacements per team may be named and used. Rolling substitutions are used in these competitions, with unlimited interchanges allowed per match. The number of suitably trained and experienced front row players of the nominated squad (maximum 22 players) must conform to the following:

Number of Suitably Trained and Experienced Front Row Players

Number of Players in Squad

Three players who can play in the front row

15 or less

Four players who can play in the front row

16, 17 or 18

Five players who can play in the front row

19, (20, 21 or 22)

When 19, 20, 21 or 22 players are nominated in a team there must be five players who can play in the front row to ensure that on the first occasion that a replacement hooker is required and, on the first occasion that a replacement prop forward is required, the team can continue to play safely with contested scrums. If at the second time of asking there is no suitably trained front row replacement then the World Rugby Laws will be followed, even if with a 22 player squad.

RUU 8.10.2 Teams unable to start the match with at least three suitably trained front row players may play with uncontested scrums without forfeit. For this to be the case, the team without a front row must inform their opposition that they are unable to provide a front row 24 hours in advance of the advertised kick-off time. However, teams that play 50% of matches or more with uncontested scrums will not be eligible for promotion. As per RUU 8.2 all front row players should be indicated on team sheets. Teams will be required to validate their eligibility for promotion by submitting their team sheets to the BUCS Executive at the end of the season. Non-offending teams should report the offending team using the form found in the BUCS website Rugby Union pages. Failure to provide 24 hours’ notice will entitle the non-offending team to claim a walkover. Should 24 hours’ notice not be given and the non-offending team agrees to play with uncontested scrums then they are not entitled to claim a walkover retrospectively.

RUU 8.10.3 If the above requirements were met pre-match but during the match a team reaches a point where a front row cannot be replaced, then the match shall continue with uncontested scrums. World Rugby Law 3.17 shall apply, regardless of squad size.

RUU 8.10.4 All matches will be played according to World Rugby U19 scrummage regulations.

RUU 8.11 Women’s Tier 2 and below league matches and Conference Cup knockout competition matches

RUU 8.11.1 A maximum of seven replacements per team may be named and used. Rolling substitutions are used in these competitions, with unlimited interchanges allowed per match. Teams are permitted to field up to a full squad of 22 players without a qualified front row. However, the below penalties of RUU 8.11.3 will apply.

RUU 8.11.2 Priority must be given to the highest placed team from an institution/Playing Entity downwards. Therefore, a higher placed team may not start a match with uncontested scrums whilst any lower teams are starting matches on the same day with contested scrums.

RUU 8.11.3 In the event of a team being unable to field a suitably trained front row at the start of a match resulting in uncontested scrums being played, the result shall stand. However, teams that play 50% of matches or more with uncontested scrums will not be eligible for promotion. As per RUU 8.2 all front row players should be indicated on team sheets. Teams will be required to validate their eligibility for promotion by submitting their team sheets to the BUCS Executive at the end of the season. Non-offending teams should report the offending team using the form found in the BUCS website Rugby Union pages.

RUU 8.11.4 If a match starts with contested scrums but during the match a team reaches a point where a front row cannot be replaced, then the match shall continue with uncontested scrums. World Rugby Law 3.17 shall not apply, therefore a player whose departure has caused the referee to order uncontested scrums can be replaced.

RUU 8.11.5 All matches will be played according to World Rugby U19 scrummage regulations.

RUU 8.11.6 Player matching

RUU 8.11.6.1 A team requiring the player matching to be applied must inform their opposition in writing, 24 hours in advance of the advertised kick-off time, irrespective of whether they are the home or away team. Both teams must also inform the referee before the start of the match. If 24 hours’ notice is not given, then the non-offending team are not required to match numbers unless the referee deems this unsafe. In this instance the non-offending team should match numbers, complete a ‘Playing Under Protest’ form, and refer the matter to the BUCS Executive.

RUU 8.11.6.2 If one team requests to player match during the game due to an injury, then they will not be permitted to simply add the player back in once treatment has concluded. If they wish to return to the previous playing number, then they must obtain the express consent of the opposing team. This should be done at the time of the injury.

RUU 8.11.6.3 Between 15 and 12-a-side, all matches must be played with equal numbers on each team on the field.

RUU 8.11.6.4 Player matching will not be enforced below 12 players therefore matches can be played with 12 v 11, 12 v 10 or 11 v 10 players. For matches played between 12 and 10-a-side, the length of the match will be reduced to 60 minutes.

RUU 8.11.6.5 Should teams drop to less than 10 players then the match may continue unless the referee deems the match to be unsafe. In this instance the match must stop, and the matter be referred to the BUCS office. A decision will then be made on whether to take the result as it stands or award a walkover to the non-offending team.

RUU 9 Discipline

RUU 9.1 All matches are played under the auspices of World Rugby. However the overarching jurisdiction for each game rests with the Home Union in which the relevant match is played and institutions should be aware of the different regulations in place for each of the Home Unions.

RUU 9.2 Sending offs A sending off report shall be initiated by the relevant match official in each case where a player is sent off (red card) and this should be forwarded to the Home Union point of contact who will in turn send it, if appropriate to the Union to which the institution/Playing Entity is affiliated. It is for that Union to take action as appropriate.

RUU 9.3 Citings All citings should be forwarded to the Home Union in which the match was played and the timescales pertinent in that country are binding to those teams playing. The citing should contain:

  • Details of teams participating.
  • Location and date.
  • Name of player(s).
  • Details of allegation and which law contravened.
  • Witness statements, match footage, injury photographs and medical report and prognosis if applicable.

RUU 10 League points

RUU 10.1 Four points will be awarded for a win, two points for a draw and no points for a loss. Separate bonus points will be awarded for teams for either; scoring four or more tries in a match, or losing by seven points or less.

RUU 10.1.1 Scorecards It is the responsibility of the first named (home) team for each match to complete a BUCS Rugby Union Scorecard in full, ensure it is signed by both captains and the referee, and submit it to their Athletic Union (or equivalent) for retention until the end of the season. Both teams must agree the score and method of scoring (i.e. number of tries, conversions, penalties and drop goals) so that the correct points will be awarded when the result is entered on BUCS Play.

RUU 10.2 Where a walkover has been awarded/conceded (REG 13), five points shall be given to the non-offending team and five points deducted from the offending team.

RUU 10.3 No points will be awarded to either team in the case of a void fixture.

RUU 11 Additional Women’s Rugby Union specific variations

RUU 11.1 Players must meet the minimum age requirement set out by their institution/Playing Entity’s Home Nation for playing senior rugby, in addition to meeting the minimum age for BUCS competitions outlined in REG 4.1. These are:

  • England: Players must be 18 years of age.
  • Scotland: Players must be 17 years of age*.
  • Wales: Players must be 18 years of age.

*All 17 year old female players wishing to play BUCS Rugby Union must get written permission from their NGB to participate in BUCS competitions; this is to guarantee all parties are insured. No player should train or play without this consent.

RUU 11.2 Representative commitments When five or more players are selected for a National Governing Body senior side (Full, A, U21, Students, Universities or Women’s Elite, Academy or Under 20s), necessitating their presence at a competition or preparation camp associated with a competition, the institution/Playing Entity concerned shall be able to postpone any affected league fixtures.

RUU 11.2.1 The institution/Playing Entity concerned shall be responsible for informing the opposition institution/Playing Entity of the requirement to postpone the fixture no later than 48 hours (outside of weekends and bank holidays) after the announcement of the squad for the representative team, and no later than five working days prior to the original fixture date. Upon notification of the postponement, institutions must follow REG 14.3 to rearrange the fixture.

RUU 11.2.2 Knockout competition fixtures are not covered by RUU 11.2.

RUU 12 Additional BUCS Super Rugby and Men's Championship specific variations

RUU 12.1 Institutions/Playing Entities must conform to the National League Minimum Operating Standards (MOS). These are outlined in a separate document and managed by the BUCS Executive directly with institutions/Playing Entities. The MOS document is to be observed in conjunction with the BUCS general regulations and Rugby Union sport specific regulations.

RUU 12.2 For televised ‘feature games’, the first named (home) team is permitted to wear their usual ‘home’ colours where a kit clash exists. This must be communicated to the opposition seven days prior to the fixture taking place.

RUU 12.3 Team selection/Player movement

RUU 12.3.1 Players can be listed on team sheets for up to, and including, 11 National League fixtures and still be eligible to play for a lower ranked team. Once a player has been listed on team sheets for 12 National League fixtures they are locked to that team and no longer eligible to represent lower ranked teams for the remainder of the season in any league or knockout competition. This supersedes the ‘normality’ of more than 50% in REG 11.1.3.

RUU 12.3.2 International commitment exemptions On league weeks when players are not released for BUCS selection due to their international commitments (training or competition), 2nd Team players are able to move up to the 1st Team to cover the absence without it counting towards their ‘normality’ tally (as per RUU 14.2.1) under the following conditions:

RUU 12.3.2.1 The names of the 1st Team player(s) unavailable due to international commitments (training or competition), evidence of their selection, and the name(s) of the 2nd Team players 'playing up' as cover must be emailed to BUCS prior to the start of the relevant fixture to be eligible for normality exemption.

RUU 12.3.2.2 Failure to meet the requirements of RUU 12.3.2.1 in advance will mean that the fixture will count towards ‘normality’ for the 2nd Team player(s) 'playing up'.

RUU 12.3.2.3 This is in addition to, and does not supersede any other elements of, BUCS REG 11.1.

RUU 12.3.3 Contraventions of player movement in accordance with these regulations will result in appropriate disciplinary action, in accordance with REG 5.

RUU 13 Additional Men’s North 1/South 1/North 2/South 2 and Vase specific requirements

RUU 13.1 Facilities should be of an appropriate quality and should comply with National Governing Body regulations for matches of this standard. Pitches should, as a minimum, be roped off to a distance of three metres to prevent spectator encroachment.

RUU 13.2 Post protectors must be in place.

RUU 14 Additional National League playoffs specific requirements

RUU 14.1 The home team for each of the National League playoff matches will be determined by coin toss, undertaken by the BUCS Executive. Institutions/Playing Entities are encouraged to use neutral venues, but this is not mandatory.

RUU 14.2 In order to be eligible to compete in the final playoff match (Bottom side in National League v Winner of North 1/South 1 playoff match), players must have been named in 33% of league fixtures for the team they wish to represent. The exemptions to this being:

  • Evidenced medical dispensation.
  • A player that has established normality in a lower team, and hence would be eligible to be called up.
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