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British universities & Colleges Sport

Rugby Union

RUU i The regulations outlined in this document supersede BUCS General Regulations unless specifically stated otherwise.

RUU ii in the event that these regulations contradict those of the national or international governing body these sport specific regulations will supersede, unless specifically stated otherwise.

RUU ii.i The Rugby Union Programme shall be conducted under the Laws of the World Rugby Board and the games played under the Laws of the Game Rugby Union. Note specific Women’s regulations below. Disciplinary issues shall be conducted under the specific Disciplinary Regulations below.   

 RUU iii The minimum number of players required for the game to start will be 10.

RUU 1 National League Requirements


RUU 1.1 Institutions competing in the National League (NL) must conform to NL 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 Rugby Union specific regulations (outlined here) and General Regulations.


RUU 1.2 Player Movement


RUU 1.2.1 Institutions competing in the National League may declare up to 8 players who will be able to move between the 1st team and 2nd team subject to the following:


RUU 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 1.2. However, player movement under REG 6.7 is permitted


RUU Players must be declared during the appropriate declaration windows. Players cannot be re-declared outside of these windows. There will be two declaration windows in a season. Declaration windows will be outlined in the BUCS Affiliation and Deadline document. This information will be sent direct to institutions during the 2016-17 season


RUU 1.2.2 Knockout competitions: Player movement as outlined in RUU 1.2.1 will not apply to knockout competitions. Team selection for knockout competitions must comply with REG 6.8


RUU 1.2.3 Contraventions of player movement in accordance with these regulations will be dealt with by the BUCS Office in accordance with REG 17.


RUU 1.3 Team Sheets: In addition to REG 7, all National League Team Sheets must be submitted by both institutions to the BUCS office no later than midday the following day after a league or knock out game.


RUU 1.4 REG 12.2 ‘Start Times’ does not apply to Institutions competing in the National League


RUU 1.5 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 1.6 Officials for all games will be appointed centrally by the RFU (in England) and WRU (in Wales)







RUU 2 Front Rows: Front row players are able to move up and down 1 team from their starting selection. For example, a 2nd team prop may play for the 1st team, or the 3rd team, in a front row position only. This movement is only permitted within front row positions. Front Row players therefore do not need to be declared in accordance with RUU 1.2. Full internationals are not permitted movement under this regulation.



RUU 3 North A/B and South A/B Requirements.


RUU 3.1 Playing 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 3.2 Post protectors must be in place.


RUU 3.3 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. Where officials are not appointed centrally, the host institutions must provide an appropriately qualified and neutral referee. The host institution is also responsible for the provision of 2 touch judges.


RUU 3.4:  Please note the following promotion/relegation restrictions apply to the men’s programme:

-       Only 1st teams are permitted to play in the National League

-       Only one team per institution is permitted to play in North A, South A, North B and South B. This must be the highest team eligible.



RUU 4 Competition Regulations


RUU 4.1 Officials: In the Men’s and Women’s Championship, officials will be organised by BUCS from the semi-finals onwards. For the quarter finals the home institution is required to provide 2 neutrally appointed assistant referees.


RUU 4.2 Bonus Points (All Tiers): 4 points will be awarded for a win, 2 for a draw and 0 for a loss. Bonus points will be awarded for teams scoring 4 or more tries in a match or losing by 7 points or less. 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.  If it is brought to the attention of the BUCS office that institutions have not completed the bonus point information within one week of the match being played they will be warned in writing. The second time this occurs they will be deducted one league point. Walkovers conceded in all tiers of competition will result in 5 league points being awarded to the non-offending team and 5 league points deducted from the offending team.


RUU 5 Tie in Knockout Rounds


RUU 5.1 In all knock out matches if after 40 minutes of play each way the scores are level, 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.


RUU 5.2 If the scores are then still equal, the team that has scored most tries shall be declared the winners.


RUU 5.3 If this does not produce a result, the team that has scored the most goals from tries shall be declared the winners.


RUU 5.4 If no result is achieved under RUU 5.1 – 5.3 the result shall be decided as



RUU 5.4.1 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 5.4.2 Starting with the kicker from the team that kicked off the match, each kicker in turn shall attempt a place kick from the pre-determined positions indicated in RUU 5.4.4 below until such time as, after an equal number of attempts, one kicker has kicked more goals than the other;


RUU 5.4.3 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 5.4.4 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 Interval: In Tier 1 leagues and above (including cup knock out games) the interval between halves must be 10 minutes. In Tier 2 and leagues and below intervals should be no less than five minute with ten minutes being the preferred duration.



RUU 7 Replacements


RUU 7.1 In Tier 1 leagues and above, a maximum of seven replacements per team may be named and used. At least five of the nominated squad (irrespective of squad size, but maximum 22) must be able to play in front row positions. Rolling substitutions is used in these leagues (please see separate guidance for rolling substitutions).


RUU 7.2 In Men’s and Women’s leagues below Tier 1 level, a maximum of seven replacements may be used. Rolling substitutions is used in these leagues (please see separate guidance for rolling substitutions). The number of suitably trained and experienced front row players of the nominated squad (maximum 22 players) must conform to the following World Rugby Regulations:


No. of Suitably Trained & Experienced Players

No. of Players

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) 


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.


RUU 7.3 All teams in Tier 3 and above must provide a front row. A team unable to start the match with 3 suitably trained front row 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).


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 squad size of 19 or 22 (dependent on the league regulations – see RUU 9.1 and RUU 9.2)


RUU 7.4 If the above requirements have been met and a front row cannot be replaced then the match shall continue with uncontested scrums. See reg RUU 14 for Women’s Rugby variation.


RUU 7.5 In tier 4 and below 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 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 7.6 Priority must be given to the highest placed teams 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 7.7 Conference cup and plate matches involving teams in tier 3 and below are not required to have contested scrums. However, from the last 16 there must be contested scrums.

RUU 7.8 An uncontested scrum is defined as the same as for normal scrummages except that:


RUU 7.8.1 There is no contest for the ball.


RUU 7.8.2 The team putting the ball in must win it.


RUU 7.8.3 Neither team is permitted to push.


RUU 7.8.4 Normal rules regarding offside and binding still apply.


RUU 7.9 For ALL KNOCKOUT competitions i.e. Championship and Trophy, seven REPLACEMENTS PER TEAM may be in attendance and used. (At least five players must be able to play in front row positions – World Rugby law 3(5)(5)(B)). RUU 7.3 and RUU 7.4 still apply.


RUU 7.10 The front row players AND replacements must be identified to the Referee before each match


RUU 8 Health and Safety


RUU 8.1 Rules regarding players’ protective clothing shall follow the rules as laid down by the respective home unions. This applies specifically to protective equipment and studs etc.


RUU 8.2 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. First aid kits are recommended for every pitch. The use of bucket and sponges is discouraged. Current NGB and World Rugby guidelines for treatment of blood injuries are to be adhered to. The home side should ensure there is access to a telephone for emergencies.


RUU 8.3 No under wired bras are to be worn for contact rugby. This is in line with current NGB and WORLD RUGBY guidelines. 


RUU 9 Disciplinary Regulations: All matches are played under the auspices of the International Rugby Board. However the overarching jurisdiction for each game rests with the home union in which the relevant match is played and Clubs should be aware of the different regulations in place for each of the home Unions.


RUU 9.1 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 Club is affiliated. It is for that Union to take action as appropriate.


RUU 9.2 Citings: All citings should be forwarded to the individual 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 at the respective unions can be found on the BUCS website. 


RUU 10 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.      




RUU 11 Scrummage: All men’s matches played in England, Wales, the Championship, Premier A and Premier B, Tier One and the Trophy will be played to full WORLD RUGBY regulations. Men’s matches at Tier Two and below in England and Wales will be played to full WORLD RUGBY regulations. Scottish Tier Two teams and below will play to U19 scrummage variations.


RUU 12 Representative Commitments: In women’s rugby only 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), the institution concerned shall be able to postpone the fixture to a new fixture date to be set by BUCS. The final will not move. Please note that in the event of two teams not being able to agree a new knockout date then BUCS will enforce REG 15.5.8 to instruct teams of the replay date and venue.


RUU 13 Men’s and Women’s 7-a-Side Championships: Men’s and Women’s Seven-a-Side Championships will be held annually at a venue to be decided by the BUCS Office. The tournament shall be run in accordance with rules set out in the WORLD RUGBY Handbook and sent out prior to the competition. 



RUU 14 Women’s Rugby Variations


RUU 14.1 Premier League 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 and the result will stand. There will be no option to submit a ‘playing under protest’ form. All matches below Premier League level (i.e. Tier 1 and below including Trophy knockout matches) will be played according to WORLD RUGBY U19 scrummage regulations.


RUU 14.2 If a Premier League team is drawn against a team qualifying from Tier 1 in the Championship knockout cup, the match will be played according to WORLD RUGBY U19 scrummage regulations.


RUU 14.3 Players must meet the minimum age requirement set out by their 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 to play university rugby.        

Scotland: Players must be 17 years of age to play university rugby*.        

Wales: Players must be 18 years of age to play university rugby.


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


RUU 14.4 All Women’s Premier League matches will be played according to the full WORLD RUGBY laws of the game.


RUU 14.5 All Women’s matches below Premier League level (Tier 1 and below including Trophy knock out matches) will be played according to full WORLD RUGBY laws with exception to scrummage which will be played to WORLD RUGBY U19 scrummage regulations.


RUU 14.6 Uncontested scrums for Premier League, Tier 1 and Below: 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.


RUU 14.7 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 via the form on the rugby pages of the BUCS website.





RUU 14.8 Teams in tier 1 and below who play 4 matches or more with uncontested scrums will not be eligible for promotion. Non offending teams should report the offending team via the form on the rugby pages of the BUCS website.


RUU 15 Women’s Rugby Player Matching


RUU 15.1 Tier 1 & below: All matches must be played with equal numbers on each team. This must be either 15, 14, 13, 12 – a – side.


RUU 15.2 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 15.3 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 12v11, 12v10 or 11v10 players. (For matches played between 12 and 10-a-side, the duration of the match will be reduced to 60 minutes)


RUU 15.4 For all matches played between 12 and 10-a-side the length of the match will be reduced to 60 minutes. 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 16 Communication: In the event that teams require to use the player matching regulation or request either World Rugby U19 scrummage regulations or uncontested scrums, it will be the responsibility of the team who are using one of the women’s variations e.g. player matching or U19 uncontested scrummage to communicate their request to their opposition irrespective if they are the home or away team. Communication with the opposition must be in writing and received by the opposition 24 hours from the scheduled match start time. 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.

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