A Guide to Starting Youth Rugby Programs

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This manual is designed by USA Rugby as a starting point for a rugby enthusiast interested in creating a youth or high school rugby program. Most information needed to start your program is here in the manual. More information is available at the USA Rugby website.

How does it help you?

  • develop a model for your program
  • use dozens of best-practice examples
  • understand commitments and costs

10% of every order is donated to the rugby club of your choice! find out more

USA Rugby is committed to the development of the game at youth and high school levels. The strategic objective for USA Rugby is to have high school rugby as a recognized varsity sport with the state athletic associations. Therefore USA Rugby’s goal is to develop state-based administrative organizations for high school and youth rugby. The Regional Rugby Growth Model is a collection of best practices that will help grow and develop the game at youth and high school level. USA Rugby is looking for regions that have the energy and potential to implement this model with USA Rugby’s support. More information can be found here.

About USA Rugby

USA Rugby is the national governing body for the sport of rugby in the United States and serves as the sport’s official representative to the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and the International Rugby Board (iRB). Its mission is to achieve and maintain high levels of quality in all aspects of rugby, while its vision is to develop America into a world rugby power on and off the field. USA Rugby strives to accomplish these goals by providing competitive and educational opportunities to players, coaches, referees and administrators.

Youth development

The strategic direction of USA Rugby with regard to high schools rugby is to align with High School State Athletic Associations and single school teams and move away from community based U-19 teams. The RRGM provides the administrative support that rugby needs to grow the numbers of players and teams in order to reach the capacity required for consideration by State High School Athletic Associations, as well as the support to develop youth programs that feed into the high schools.

Starting a youth program

So you want to start a youth or high school rugby program? Congratulations! Inside this book, you'll find a list of items to consider when embarking on this journey

Developing your organization

A community based rugby program is a great way to introduce rugby to kids of all ages. Community and neighborhood centers always have an abundance of kids around that are looking for something to do. Rugby could be the answer!

Medical, safety and discipline

A coach’s first and foremost responsibility is the health and well-being of her players. Before starting a team or beginning a season, coaches should be organized and prepared. The proper forms, facilities, and assistance will make the season and the team operate more smoothly.

Marketing your program

All of the planning, administration and hard work are futile unless there are kids to play the sport. Thus marketing the program is very vital to the overall aspects in starting and sustaining a youth rugby program. There are several easy and very inexpensive ways to publicize the introduction and development of a youth rugby program to a community. Lots of tools and templates can be found at www.usarugby.org/youth

Code of ethics

USA Rugby has developed a Code of Ethics that strives to reverse any negative stereotype that rugby may have in America. USA Rugby expects each individual involved with rugby to obey and code himself or herself in accordance with the USA Rugby Code of Ethics


As the number of youth rugby players continues to grow in the United States, so too does the need for qualified youth rugby coaches. Just as other youth sports have evolved, such as soccer, baseball, foot- ball and hockey, so too have the parents to serve as coaches, referees and volunteers. This may vary from coaching practices or matches, to refereeing matches, tournaments, or just flipping burgers at the year end cookout. Regardless of duty, there needs to be parental involvement. If the program is run professionally, with a clear vision, this will attract volunteers to “jump on board” and join the excitement.


Referee involvement in youth and high school rugby is best discussed in the context of the two codes of youth rugby: contact and non-contact.