Law Question: Hand-Offs in Age Grade Rugby

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Question:

What is the RFU stance on hand-offs in the age grade game above U12 (at or below which it is not permitted as per regulation) or U13 (Appendix 7 to the Regulation clearly states below the armpits)?

I often hear both coaches and players quoting that they must be no higher than chest height but my understanding is that there is nothing provided for in U19 law variations or the RFU age grade regulations to support that view and handoffs above chest height are permitted as long as they are safely performed. Am I missing something?

(The game in question was U15 Girls fixture)

Society response:

The definition of a hand off in the 2018 Law Book (page 18) is: A permitted action, taken by the ball carrier to fend off an opponent, using the palm of the hand.

Any and all U19 Law variations apply to junior matches sanctioned by the RFU (i.e. those played in England). Additionally Regulation 15 applies to Age Grade Rugby (and has different Appendices for each age group).

Relevant sections of the Regulations for U11, U12, U13 and U14 upwards are hereby shown below:

Age grade Appendix Constraint
U11 5 ( 14 (a) NO fend off or hand off
U11 5 ( 5 (iii) Sanction for fend off or hand off is a Free Kick
_____________________________________________________________________________
U12 6 14 (a) The ball carrier may run and dodge potential tacklers but must not fend or hand them off above the armpits.
_____________________________________________________________________________
U13 (boys) 7 14 (b) The ball carrier may run and dodge potential tacklers but must not fend or hand them off above the armpits.
U13 (girls) 10 ( 14 (a) NO fend off or hand off
(U12 can play too) ( 5 (iii) Sanction for fend off or hand off is a Free Kick
_____________________________________________________________________________
U14 (boys) 8 and thereafter (i.e. U15 and above) there is NO reference to fend off or hand off, so it is an allowed action providing it complies with the definition and is safe
U15-U18 (girls) 11 there is NO reference to fend off or hand off, so it is an allowed action providing it complies with the definition and is safe
_____________________________________________________________________________
Summary
Age Allowed Constraint
U11 NO Not Applicable
U12 YES But NOT above the armpits
U13 YES But NOT above the armpits
U13 (girls) NO Not Applicable
U14 (boys) YES none specified
& above
U15-U18 (girls) YES none specified

Response written December 21st, 2018.

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