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Rugby League

Version control: Original 1986 / Updated 1989 / Updated 1999 / Updated 2003 / Updated 2015 / Updated 2016/ Updated February 2023/ Updated March 2023



You must refer to the Requirements for All Sport and Physical Activity (PDF 466KB) to understand your overall compliance responsibilities.

All students must have written parental permission to play at intra, inter-school and higher representative levels.

Inter-school Rugby League in primary schools must be played only under the 'Rugby League: Laws of Mini Footy & Mod League' and must incorporate the 'National Safeplay Code'. Refer to the Laws for age group specifications for Mini Footy and Mod League.

The NSWPSSA State Open and 11 Years Carnivals are played under the rules of 'Mod League for twelve (12) year olds and incorporates the 'National Safeplay Code'.

Rugby League for students thirteen (13) years and above must be played under the Australian Rugby League: International Laws of the Game. Matches involving students fifteen (15) years and under must also incorporate the 'National Safeplay Code'.

The Australian Rugby League: International Laws of the Game includes the following additional rules for junior participants: -

  • Retire at Play-the-Ball: In matches involving players aged fourteen (14) years and under, the players of the side not in possession, must retire five (5) metres from the point at which the ball is played. This is different to the normal ten (10) metres in matches involving players aged fifteen (15) years and above.
  • No Shoulder Charging: In matches involving players eighteen (18) years and under, a defender who runs at a ball-carrier and without attempting to tackle, grab or hold the ball-carrier, charges to make contact with the shoulder or with the upper arm (tucked into the side) is guilty of an infringement.

Rule booklets are available from the Australian Rugby League and New South Wales Rugby League.

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Teacher/Instructor Qualifications and Experience

The coach must have appropriate expertise and/or training in the teaching/coaching of rugby league. League Safe is the minimum compulsory requirement for every coach and match official participating in school Rugby League.

NSW Rugby League offers the following accreditation courses:

Accreditation details of the coaches, should be recorded by the principal.

A teacher must be present who has recognised current training in emergency care.

Specific sport support for Rugby League is provided in the Teacher resource hub.

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Where an adult other than a teacher is engaged to provide instruction, a teacher must be present to take overall responsibility.

It is recommended that qualified referees be used for inter-school competition.

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Appropriate padding must be used on goal posts.

Mouthguards must be worn in the following circumstances:

  • All selection trials and games organised for any occasion by the school, the school's sporting zone, regional and/or state school sport association.
  • All games or competitions organised by external organisations that are school endorsed activities.
  • Training sessions where skills training requires physical contact between participants.

Players should be encouraged to wear Standards Australia approved head gear designed primarily to protect the ears and head against abrasions.

Players who choose to wear shoulder pads should only use a type of shoulder pad approved by the Australian Rugby League (ARL).

Boots must conform to the Laws of the Game.

A well-equipped medical kit must be readily available.

Principals and teachers are advised that when conducting individual activity based ‘training sessions’ and or skill sessions the use of safety equipment (e.g. shin guards, mouthguards, headgear, shoulder pads) may be optional after considering the level of risk involved and assessing any possible risk as minimal.

Students involved in “opposition based drills and contact games” must wear the specified safety equipment.

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Enclosed grounds are preferred for inter-school fixtures. Grounds must be free of obstructions and loose objects and marked avoiding the use of hydrated lime.

Spectators and reserve players must be positioned well back from the sideline during play.

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Each school is required to have a structured training and coaching program and an agreed selection procedure for teams participating in intra and inter-school programs.

Coaches of teams participating in competitions where tackling and scrummaging are included should note: Training must be specific to the player’s position and physique.

Coaches of intra or inter-school teams must be aware of the specific strength and physical requirements of the activity, for example, the most desirable and suitable body build for a front row forward.

Students must be selected on the basis of ability and suitability for the position they are to play. Sample Consent Form for Rugby League (DOCX 27KB)

Students assessed as having an inappropriate physique for selection in any position where scrummaging may occur must not be allowed in any circumstances to play in these positions. Particular care must be taken to prevent students with such physiques from playing in these positions as replacements or by positional changes during the course of a game.

If a player involved in scrummaging is sent from the field, the coach must be given the opportunity to make a change to the playing personnel to ensure that these positions are filled by players with the appropriate training and experience. This may require the voluntary substitution of another player. The team involved should remain one player short.

If a suitable replacement for a player involved in scrummaging is not available, the team must forfeit the game.

Students must not be allowed to play or continue to play if they are injured. If a teacher has reason to believe that a student is injured, the student must be removed from the play.

Coaches must not allow students to return to playing after injury until it is clear that the injury has healed. If there is any doubt, the student is not to play until medically cleared.

Where possible, but particularly for representative matches, there should be a person present at each sporting venue who has current first-aid qualifications.

Warm-up and cool-down are vital elements in preventing injury and should be included before and after all training and competition sessions. Stretching activities performed in the warm-up should move the muscles through the full range of movement to be performed during the training session or game.

The warm-up should be continuous and lead into the training session. It should include games/activities relevant to the session to be performed.

Students trialling for zone or regional teams must present to the organisers, a permission note (similar to the school rugby union/league note) signed by the parent or caregiver.

Students must remove jewellery and other ornaments likely to cause injury.

Should an injury occur involving bleeding these procedures should be followed

  • All clothing, equipment and surfaces contaminated by blood must be viewed as potentially infectious and treated accordingly
  • Participants who are bleeding must have the wound dressed and securely covered
  • Any blood covered body area (and surface area where appropriate), must be cleaned thoroughly and any blood covered clothing and equipment cleaned or removed prior to the participant recommencing the activity.

Where possible, ice should be available for the treatment of injuries.

Students are to be instructed to use adequate sun protection, e.g. an SPF50+, broad spectrum, water resistant sunscreen reapplied regularly.

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