Scottish Rugby unveils law adaptions to aid player development

25/07/17 Broadwood Stadium - Cumbernauld Glasgow and the West U18 v Caledonia U18 Glasgow and the West U18 24-17 Caledonia U18 Photo credit: © Craig Watson Craig Watson, 07479748060

SCOTTISH RUGBY’S performance department has unveiled plans for a day of 15-a-side matches next month involving the nation’s best youngsters, playing against each other using several law adaptions aimed at promoting “high-tempo, dynamic rugby in line with Scottish Rugby’s ‘Technical Blueprint’ to develop fast, attack-minded players”.

Th tournament will involve four teams representing each of Scottish rugby’s four development academies at under-19 level, playing three games lasting 40-minutes (2 x 20 minute) each, on the indoor synthetic surface at Oriam (Scotland’s Sports Performance Centre) in west Edinburgh on Wednesday 18 October. Admission is free.

This rule adaptions have been devised by Scottish Rugby’s BT Sport Academy, coach development and refereeing departments. They include: insisting that all restarts land in a competitive range (to develop aerial skills through a regular challenge for possession), a number of restrictions on mauling and kicking from hand in open play, and 30-second time limits on lineouts and scrum set-ups to ensure the tempo of the game remains as high as possible. A full list of the adaptions is provided below.

“A lot of work has gone in to adapting the game to help create more opportunities to put the skills and conditioning of our most promising players under pressure, while also allowing for more thorough internal benchmarking and additional coaching opportunities for performance-focused coaches,” said Stephen Gemmell, Scottish Rugby Head of Academy and Performance Programmes.

This mini-tournament  is part of a programme of representative regional matches announced by the SRU this morning [Tuesday], incorporating every year-group from Under-16 through to Under-20 level.

Gemmell added: “In the 20 years I’ve been with Scottish Rugby we have never had the player numbers of sufficient quality or quantity to merit competitive, regional fixtures at every age-grade from Under-16 through to Under-20. It’s a credit to the work done in clubs and schools across the country as well as in the BT Sport Academy.”

2017-18 regional fixtures – 

Sunday 15 October at Kings Park, Aberdeen
East U16 v West U16 (kick-off 12.30pm)
East U18 v West U18 (kick-off 2.15pm)

Wednesday 18 October at Oriam, Edinburgh
BT Sport Academy U19

Game 1 (kick-off 11am)
Game 2 (kick-off 11.50am)
Game 3 (kick-off 1.30pm)
Game 4 (kick-off 2.20pm)
Game 5 (kick-off 4pm)
Game 6 (kick-off 4.50pm)

Sunday 22 October at Inverleith, Edinburgh
East U16 v West U16 (kick-off 12.30pm)
East U18 v West U18 (kick-off 2.15pm)

Sun 26 November at Oriam, Edinburgh
East U20 v West U20 (kick-off 5pm)

Weekend of 16/17/18 February at Oriam, Edinburgh
East U18 & Welsh Regions U18 (3 Teams)
West U18 & Welsh Regions U18 (3 Teams)

Wednesday 4 April at Boadwood, Glasgow
Glasgow U17 v Caledonia U17 (kick-off 1.30pm)
Edinburgh U17 v The Borders & East Lothian U17

Wednesday 11 April at a Borders & East Lothian TBC
Winners U17 v Winners U17 (kick-off 1.30pm)
Losers U17 v Losers U17 (3pm)

Full list of law adaptions  – 


Game Adaptation Rationale Sanction
Squads of 26. Players play 90-minutes max World Rugby game time guidelines N/A
No tactical subs until half-time Increase ball in play time / intensity N/A
Restarts from half-way must land between opposition 10m and 22m line Develop aerial skills / Challenge for Possession Free kick at half- way
22 restarts must land in own half Develop aerial skills / Challenge for Possession Free kick at half- way
Drop kick conversions. Opposition don’t have to retire the behind posts Increase ball in play time / intensity N/A
No drop kicks for goal in open play Increase ball in play time / intensity N/A
No goal kicks or scrum option from a penalty or free kick Increase ball in play time / intensity N/A
No open field kicks straight out of play except for full penalty Increase ball in play / promote counter attack / promote kicking into space Free kick where ball was kicked
30 seconds allowed for attacking team to throw in at the lineout Increase ball in play time / intensity Free kick on 15m line
No huddles or pre-calling at lineout Develop adaptive lineout calling and defensive options Free kick on 15m line
Maximum one driving maul from lineout per half Promote delivery off the top and play off 10 Free kick on 15m line
30 seconds to set up scrum after infringement Increase ball in play time / intensity Free kick
Zero Tolerance for scrum infringement (no resets) Promote individual scrum technique & process (body position / effective binding / stay square) Free kick (repeated infringing gives penalty and yellow card
No direct coaching intervention during play either by coaches / medics / water carriers Promote adaptive play & decision making under pressure N/A
Team physio and water carrier only in technical area Promote adaptive play and decision making under pressure N/A
Yellow Cards = eight minutes Promote positive play N/A




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David Barnes
About David Barnes 602 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.