Junior Coaches & Volunteers Code Of Conduct

It is the policy of Garstang Rugby Club (the ‘Club’) to protect children and young people under the age of 18 playing youth rugby from possible abuse. The Club’s Code of Conduct set out below has been written for all youth rugby coaches and other youth rugby volunteers at the Club, to remind or inform them of their responsibilities and the minimum standards of behaviour required of them. All youth rugby coaches and other youth rugby volunteers involved at the Club are required to familiarise themselves with the Code of Conduct and abide by it.

The Code of Conduct may be amended from time to time by the Club. A copy of the latest Code of Conduct can be found on the Club’s website. Allegations of a breach of the Club’s Code of Conduct for Youth Rugby Coaches and Other Youth Rugby Volunteers will be investigated according to RFU disciplinary procedures.

The Club’s Code of Conduct for Youth Rugby Coaches and Other Youth Rugby Volunteers is as follows:


  • You have a moral and legal obligation to ensure that, when given responsibility for young people, you provide them with the highest possible standard of care. You must maintain the professionalism and safeguards of good practice which are associated with rugby union
  • You must safeguard and promote the interests and wellbeing of youth players with whom you work
  • Recognise that abuse can take place within the context of rugby union. Abuse is a term used to describe ways in which young people are harmed, usually by individuals and often by those they know and trust. Youth rugby coaches and other youth rugby volunteers hold this trust and may be at risk of misusing their power over youth players. If you have any concerns relating to the welfare of a young person or young people at the Club, you should contact the Club’s Child Protection/Welfare Officer
  • Do not put yourself in a position where you could be suspected of, or accused of physical or sexual abuse of any youth player or child associated with the Club. Always be publicly open when working with young people. Avoid situations when you and an individual child are completely unobserved
  • You must respect the rights and dignity and worth of every youth player with whom you work, and treat them with equality within the context of rugby union
  • Some very experienced people wrote the Continuum. Understand it and abide by it – you have no option, the Continuum is part of the Laws of the Game
  • You must learn the Laws and consider learning to referee
  • You must promote the positive aspects of the sport e.g. fair play. Violations of the Laws of the Game, behaviour contrary to the spirit of the Laws of the Game or relevant regulations, or the use of prohibited techniques or substances must never be condoned
  • Teach your squad’s players, by your own example, to respect the Referee – always!
  • You must read and abide by sections D and E at the end of this Code (headed “Practice to be avoided and practice that is prohibited by the RFU” and “RFU Code of Conduct on the Abuse of Trust”)

Youth players in your squad

  • Rugby is only part of youth players’ lives. Recognise this and allow for it in your demands on them
  • Find out what ‘makes each player tick’. Know about their family background and other interests. Be able to spot and then explain changes in their behaviour
  • Find out about child development, and the physical, intellectual, and emotional capabilities of the squad you work with
  • If youth players are to be supervised by adults in changing rooms, always ensure that the adults work in pairs, and that gender is appropriate. Ideally, youth players should not have to change at the same time or in the same place as adults. Adults must never get in the bath/shower with youth players
  • When mixed teams compete away from home, they should always be accompanied by at least one male and one female adult
  • Players should not be allowed to drink alcohol or encouraged to drink alcohol

Guidelines for coaches

Whilst the following guidelines are particularly relevant to coaches of youth rugby at the Club, all other youth rugby volunteers at the Club should also heed them:

  • The relationship that you develop with the youth players with whom you work must be based on mutual trust and respect
  • You must place the physical and emotional wellbeing and safety of all youth players above all other considerations, including the development of performance

You should…

  • Remember that young people play rugby for fun and enjoyment and that winning is only a part of it (treat games against other clubs as lessons and opportunities for your squad’s players to learn, not tests; tell your squad (and yourself) that winning and losing are only by-products of performance, they are there to play and to enjoy playing, nothing more)
  • Avoid overplaying of youth players (particularly talented players) – all players need and deserve equal opportunity to play
  • Remember that rugby is for everyone – do not promote ‘star’ players, and never make any player feel like a ‘spare part’
  • Motivate youngsters through positive feedback and constructive criticism (never ridicule or belittle a player – make each one feel valued; never use language or actions which may cause a youth player to lose self-esteem or confidence)
  • Ensure that contact skills are taught in a safe, secure manner, paying due regard to the physical development of young players (the activities which you direct or advocate must be appropriate to the age, maturity and ability of the youth players you are dealing with)
  • Never allow youth players to train/play when injured – refer injured players to their doctor or to a sports injury clinic
  • Ensure equipment and facilities are safe and appropriate to the age and ability of the youth players. You are responsible for the safety of the youth players you work with
  • Mark out a safe work area and keep it safe
  • Make sure equipment is in good repair and safe
  • Be careful when joining in with contract drills and games. You are bigger and harder, and you can hurt them


Rugby is a physical game. Situations will occur when, in order to teach or coach certain techniques, it is necessary to make contact with the player. However, the following must apply:

  • Parents and young players must be made aware of situations in which this may happen when they join the Club
  • Physical handling of a youth player should only be used for safety reasons or where there is no other way of coaching the technique
  • Contact or touching of a youth player which is inappropriate (not directly related to the coaching context) or aggressive will not be tolerated
  • Rugby is a potentially dangerous game which relies on participants playing with a spirit of mutual respect. Teach your squad players the meaning of ‘fair play’, and set them a good example. You must encourage youth players to accept responsibility for their own behaviour and performance
  • Rugby works best when sides are evenly matched. Insist on mixing and matching ill-balanced teams when appropriate
  • You should hold a current RFU coaching award (or other recognized award). You must keep up-to-date with knowledge and technical skills on coaching issues and rugby issues. You should be aware of your own limitations and you should only work within the limitations of your knowledge and qualifications
  • You must consistently display high standards of personal behaviour and appearance. Do not drink alcohol before you work, or while you are working. Do not smoke while you are working
  • Plan your sessions, and then plan your season. Start on time and finish coaching sessions for your squad on time
  • You should clarify with your squad (and their parents/carers) what is expected of them both on and off the rugby field and also what they are entitled to expect from you as their coach
  • You should work in partnership with others within the game (officials, doctors, physiotherapists, sports scientists, etc.) to ensure the wellbeing, safety and enjoyment of all youth players

Practice to be avoided and practice that is prohibited by the RFU

The RFU has advised clubs that certain practices should be avoided and other practices are prohibited.

Practice to be avoided:

Everyone should be aware that, as a general rule, it does not make sense for a Youth Rugby Coach or Other Youth Rugby Volunteer to:

  • Spend amounts of time alone with youth players away from others
  • Take youth players alone on car journeys, however short
  • If it should arise that such situations are unavoidable, they should only take place with the full knowledge and consent of someone in charge at the Club and/or a person with parental responsibility for the youth player
  • If a Youth Rugby Coach or Other Youth Rugby Volunteer accidentally hurts or causes distress in any manner to a youth player or the youth player appears to respond in a sexual manner to the actions of a Youth Rugby Coach or Other Youth Rugby Volunteer or misunderstands or misinterprets something that person has done, the Youth Rugby Coach or Other Youth Rugby Volunteer must report the incident to a colleague supported by a written report of the incident as soon as possible. Parents/carers of the youth player should also be informed of the occurrence

Practice that is prohibited:

A Youth Rugby Coach or Other Youth Rugby Volunteer should never:

  • Take youth players to their home or other secluded places where they will be alone
  • Engage in rough, physical games, sexually provocative games or horseplay with youth players
  • Take part in any dynamic games or training sessions with youth players. If there is a need for an adult to facilitate learning within a coaching session through the use of coaching aids (e.g. contact pads), this should be done with the utmost care and with due regard to the safety and wellbeing of the youth players
  • Share a room with a youth player unless the individual is the parent/guardian of that youth player
  • Allow any form of inappropriate touching (not specifically related to the coaching of the game)
  • Make sexually suggestive remarks to a youth player, even in fun
  • Use inappropriate language or allow youth players to use inappropriate language unchallenged
  • Allow allegations by a youth player to go unchallenged, unrecorded or not acted upon
  • Do things of a personal nature for a youth player that they can do for themselves, unless asked to do so by the parents/carer of the youth player. (Please note that it is recognized that some youth players will always need help with such things as lace tying, adjustment of tag belts, fitting head guards etc.)
  • Depart the Club until the safe dispersal of all youth players is complete
  • Cause an individual to lose self-esteem by embarrassing, humiliating or undermining him/her
  • Treat some youth players more favourably than others
  • Agree to meet a youth player on your own on a one to one basis

RFU Code of Conduct on Abuse of Trust (as applicable to the Club)

All adults who work with young people are in a position of trust which has been invested in them by the parents, the sport and the young person. This relationship can be described as one in which the adult is in a position of power and influence by virtue of their role. In rugby union, most adults in a position of trust recognise that there are certain boundaries in the adult/player relationship that must not be crossed. The relationship is no different to that between a school teacher and the pupils in their care.

Any behaviour which encourages a physical or emotionally dependant relationship to develop between the person in a position of trust and the young person in their care must be avoided.

All those within the Club have a duty to raise concerns about the behaviour by coaches, officials, volunteers and administrators which may be harmful to the young people in their care, without prejudice to their own position.

Allegations of a breach of the Code of Conduct on the Abuse of Trust will be investigated according to RFU disciplinary procedures.