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British universities & Colleges Sport

Rugby Union

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

RUU 3.1 Officials for all Men’s National League (BUCS Super Rugby) and Championship fixtures will be appointed centrally by the RFU (in England) and WRU (in Wales), as per the requirements of Appendix 5 (‘BUCS Match Officials Requirements’), with the addition of a 4th official being required.

RUU 3.2 For Men’s North A/South A/North B/South B fixtures, the RFU central appointments body or the local appointments body will appoint the referee and where possible touch judges. Total costs for these officials shall be covered by the home institution. The host institution is responsible for confirming appointments have been made and for contacting the officials concerned with match information.

RUU 3.2.1 Where officials are not appointed centrally, the host institution must provide an appropriate referee and 2 touch judges as per Appendix 5 (‘BUCS Match Officials Requirements’). The host institution is also responsible for the provision of 2 touch judges.

RUU 3.3 For the Men’s and Women’s Championship, Vase and Trophy Finals, officials will be organised by BUCS. The costs incurred by these officials will be met by BUCS.

RUU 4 Interval In Tier 1 and above league matches, and Championship Vase and Trophy knockout matches, the interval between halves must be 10 minutes. In Tier 2 and below league matches, and Conference Cup/Plate/Bowl knockout matches, the interval between halves should be no less than 5 minutes, with 10 minutes being the preferred duration.

RUU 5 Ties in knockout matches In the event of a tie after 40 minutes of play each way, the outcome of the match shall be determined as follows:

RUU 5.1 There shall be a 5 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 1 minute interval. If the scores are then still equal;

RUU 5.2 The team that has scored most tries shall be declared the winners. If this does not produce a result;

RUU 5.3 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 5.3.1 Each team shall nominate 1 player from its number on the field of play at the final whistle to participate on its behalf in a place kicking competition;

RUU 5.3.2 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 5.3.4 until such time as, after an equal number of attempts, 1 kicker has kicked more goals than the other;

RUU 5.3.3 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 5.3.4 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 6 Replacements and front row requirements

RUU 6.1 For Tier 1 and above league matches, and Championship Vase and Trophy knockout matches, a maximum of 7 replacements per team may be named and used. Rolling substitutions is used in these leagues (Please see separate guidance for rolling substitutions found through the BUCS website Rugby Union pages). At least 5 of the nominated squad (irrespective of squad size, but maximum 22) must be able to play in front row positions.

RUU 6.1.1 In the Men’s National League/Championship, teams will be allowed a 23 man squad if they field an additional front row replacement on the bench to ensure cover of all 3 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 6.2 For Tier 2 and below league matches, a maximum of 7 replacements per team may be named and used. Rolling substitutions is used in these leagues (Please see separate guidance for rolling substitutions found through the BUCS website Rugby Union pages). The number of suitably trained and experienced front row players of the nominated squad (maximum 22 players) must conform to the following:

RUU 6.2.1

Number of Suitably Trained and Experienced Front Row Players Number of Players in Squad
3 players who can play in the front row 15 or less
4 players who can play in the front row 16, 17 or 18
5 players who can play in the front row 19, (20, 21 or 22)
Women's teams in Tier 2 and below leagues and Conference Cups/Plates are permitted to field a full squad of 22 players without a qualified front row. However, RUU 6.5.2 still applies.  

 

RUU 6.2.2 When 19, 20, 21 or 22 players are nominated in a team there must be 5 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 man squad.

RUU 6.3 For Tier 3 and above league matches, all teams must provide a front row. A team unable to start the match with 3 suitably trained front row players will be deemed to have conceded a walkover. Should a team be unable to provide the correct number of front row players, they must reduce their squad size to meet the World Rugby regulations (see table above). For example, a team arriving with only 4 front row players will be entitled to have a maximum squad size of 18 players (including the 4 front row players) for the duration of the match. If the opposition have a full complement of front row players, they are entitled to the maximum number of players in a squad as per RUU 6.2.1.

RUU 6.4 If the above requirements of RUU 6.1/RUU 6.2/RUU 6.3 have been met and a front row cannot be replaced then the match shall continue with uncontested scrums.

RUU 6.5 For Men’s Tier 4 and below league matches, teams unable to field a front row may play with uncontested scrums without forfeit. The team without a front row must inform their opposition 24 hours in advance of the advertised kick-off time if they are unable to provide a front row. 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 6.6 For Conference Cup matches involving solely Tier 2 teams, RUU 6.2 and RUU 6.3 shall apply. Conference Cup/Plate/Bowl matches involving at least 1 team from Tier 3 or below are not required to have contested scrums, with the exception of the round of 16 onwards in Conference Cups.

RUU 6.7 Women’s variations to RUU 6.1 – 6.6 For league and knockout fixtures at all levels, 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, the following shall apply:

RUU 6.7.1 Premier League teams that play more than 3 matches with uncontested scrums will be deducted 3 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.

RUU 6.7.2 Teams in Tier 1 and below who play 50% of matches or more with uncontested scrums will not be eligible for promotion. As per RUU 6.9 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 office 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 6.8 Priority must be given to the highest placed team from an institution downwards. Therefore the higher placed team may not play with uncontested scrums if any lower teams are playing on the same day with contested scrums.

RUU 6.9 Qualified front row players must be denoted on all team sheets by writing ‘(FR)’ next to each player’s name.

RUU 6.10 Front row players AND replacements must be identified to the referee before each match.

RUU 6.11 Front row players, with the exception of full internationals, are able to move up and down 1 team from their starting selection. However, teams should be aware that REG 7.1.6 still applies. For example, a 2nd team prop may play for the 1st team, or the 3rd team, in a front row position only.

RUU 6.11.1 This movement is only permitted within front row positions.

RUU 6.11.2 For Men’s National League teams, front row players therefore do not need to be declared in accordance with RUU 12.2.

RUU 7 Scrummage

RUU 7.1 Men’s scrummage

RUU 7.1.1 National League, North A/South A, North B/South B, Tier 1, Championship, Vase and Trophy All matches will be played to full World Rugby regulations.

RUU 7.1.2 Tier 2 and below leagues, Conference Cup/Plate/Bowl Matches in England and Wales will be played to full World Rugby regulations. Matches in Scotland will be played to U19 scrummage variations.

RUU 7.2 Women’s scrummage

RUU 7.2.1 Premier North/South, Championship and Vase All matches will be played according to full World Rugby regulations.

RUU 7.2.1.1 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 7.2.2 Tier 1 and below leagues, Trophy and Conference Cup/Plate All matches will be played according to World Rugby U19 scrummage regulations.

RUU 7.3 Uncontested scrums An uncontested scrum is defined as the same as for normal scrummages except that:

RUU 7.3.1 There is no contest for the ball.

RUU 7.3.2 The team putting the ball in must win it.

RUU 7.3.3 Neither team is permitted to push.

RUU 7.3.4 Normal rules regarding offside and binding still apply.

RUU 8 Women’s player matching

RUU 8.1 Tier 1 and below, Trophy and Conference Cup/Plate All matches must be played with equal numbers on each team. This must be either 15, 14, 13 or 12-a-side.

RUU 8.1.1 If 1 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 8.2 For all matches played between 15 and 12-a-side the length of the match will remain at 80 minutes, except for teams in tier 1 and below which are to be 35 minutes each way

RUU 8.3 The minimum number of players required per team is 10 players. 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.

RUU 8.3.1 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 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 8.4 For matches played between 12 and 10-a-side, the length of the match will be reduced to 60 minutes.

RUU 8.5 A team requiring the player matching regulations 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 office.

RUU 9 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 duty of the home team when confirming the fixture to advise the away team on any footwear restrictions and the type of surface to be used.

RUU 10 Health and safety

RUU 10.1 Rules regarding players’ protective clothing shall follow the rules as laid down by the respective Home Union. This applies specifically to protective equipment and studs etc.

RUU 10.2 Treatment of blood injuries 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 10.3 The home side should ensure there is access to a telephone for emergencies.

RUU 10.4 No under wired bras are to be worn for contact rugby.

RUU 11 Discipline

RUU 11.1 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 11.2 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 is affiliated. It is for that Union to take action as appropriate.

RUU 11.3 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.

The contacts and citing timelines of each Union can be found through the BUCS website Rugby Union pages.

RUU 12 League points (including bonus points) 4 points will be awarded for a win, 2 for a draw and 0 for a loss. Separate bonus points will be awarded for teams for either; scoring 4 or more tries in a match, or losing by 7 points or less.

RUU 12.1 It is the responsibility of the home side to complete the official BUCS Rugby Union scorecard in full and ensure it is signed by both captains and the referee.

RUU 12.2 If it is brought to the attention of the BUCS office that institutions have not completed the bonus point information within 1 week of the match being played they will be warned in writing. The second time this occurs they will be deducted 1 league point.

RUU 12.3 Walkovers conceded will result in 5 league points being awarded to the non-offending team and 5 league points being deducted from the offending team.

RUU 13 Additional Women’s Rugby Union specific variations

RUU 13.1 Players must meet the minimum age requirement set out by their institution's Home Nation for playing senior rugby, in addition to meeting the minimum age for BUCS competitions outlined in REG 6.1. 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 leagues/knockouts; this is to guarantee all parties are insured. No player should train or play without this consent.

RUU 13.2 Representative commitments When 5 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), the institution concerned shall be able to postpone the fixture to a new fixture date agreed by the 2 institutions.

RUU 13.2.1 In the event of the 2 institutions not being able to agree a new date then the matter should be referred to the BUCS office and the institutions will be instructed of the new date and venue.

RUU 13.2.2 Knockout competition finals will be not moved for this reason.

RUU 14 Additional Men’s National League and Championship specific variations

RUU 14.1 Institutions must conform to the National League Minimum Operating Standards (MOS). These are outlined in a separate document and managed by the BUCS office directly with institutions. The MOS document is to be observed in conjunction with the BUCS general regulations and Rugby Union sport specific regulations.

RUU 14.2 Player movement

RUU 14.2.1 Institutions may declare up to 8 players who will be able to move between their 1st team and 2nd team, for league fixtures only, subject to the following:

RUU 14.2.1.1 Declared players must not be starting players for the 1st team. Where a player becomes a starting player for the 1st team they will no longer be able to move to the 2nd team under RUU 14.2. However, player movement under REG 7.1 is permitted.

RUU 14.2.1.2 Players must be declared during the appropriate declaration windows. Players cannot be re-declared outside of these windows. There will be 2 declaration windows in a season. Declaration windows will be outlined in the BUCS Sport Specific Affiliations Document.

RUU 14.2.2 Player movement as outlined in RUU 14.2.1 will not apply to knockout competitions. Team selection for knockout competitions must comply with REG 7.2

RUU 14.2.3 Contraventions of player movement in accordance with these regulations will be dealt with by the BUCS office in accordance with REG 15.

RUU 14.3 Team sheets In addition to the requirements of REG 7.5, all team sheets must be submitted by both institutions to the BUCS office no later than midday on the day after a league or knockout match.

RUU 14.4 For televised ‘feature games’, the home team is permitted to wear their usual ‘home’ colours where a kit clash exists. This must be communicated to the away team 7 days prior to the fixture taking place.

RUU 15 Additional Men’s North A/South A/North B/South B and Vase specific requirements

RUU 15.1 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 3 metres to prevent spectator encroachment.

RUU 15.2 Post protectors must be in place.

RUU 16 Additional National League playoffs specific requirements

RUU 16.1 The home team for each of the National League playoff matches will be determined by coin toss, undertaken by the BUCS office. Institutions are encourage to use neutral venues, but this is not mandatory.

RUU 16.2 In order to be eligible to compete in the final playoff match (Bottom side in National League v Winner of North A/South A playoff match), players must have been named in 33% of 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.

RUU 17 Deliberate regulation manipulation If there is evidence that institutions are abusing the system and using the regulations outside of the spirit of the game to gain an unfair advantage, they can be reported to the BUCS Disciplinary Panel.

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