Physical Contact With Young People In Rugby
There are a number of principles that should be followed within the sport of rugby union when the activity involves physical contact.
Physical contact in rugby should always be intended to meet the child’s needs, NOT the adults. Coaches should only use physical contact if their aim is to:
Develop skills or techniques
To treat an injury
To prevent an injury or accident occurring
To meet the requirements of the game.
Coaches should seek to explain the nature and reason for the physical contact to the child reinforcing the teaching or coaching skill. Unless the situation is an emergency, the adult should always ask the child for permission.
As part of the welcome of a new player and their parents to BRFC Mini and Youth Section it should be explained about any physical contact that will be required as part of the activities undertaken by their age group. Young people should be encouraged to voice their concerns they have if any physical contact makes them feel uncomfortable or threatened.
Contact should not involve touching genital areas, buttocks, breasts or any other part of the body which might cause the child distress or embarrassment. Physical contact should always take place in an open/public environment and not in secret or out of sight of others.
Any form of physical punishment of a child or young person is unlawful by any coach or member of the administrative staff of BRFC Mini and Youth Section, as is any form of physical response to misbehaviour unless by way of restraint. It is particularly important that all adults understand this both to protect their own position and the overall reputation of the BRFC Mini and Youth Section in which they are involved.
Contact as part of coaching
There are specific circumstances with the sport of rugby which will require coaches to come into physical contact with the young people within their age group from time to time in the course of teaching them the skills for their age group. Examples of activities where safe practice is critical e.g. the introduction/development of scrummaging. Coaches should be aware of the limits within which contact should be properly take place, and of the possibility that such contact could be misinterpreted.
It should be recognised that physical contact between an adult and a young person which may occur during legitimate coaching may be misconstrued or misunderstood by other young people, parents/guardians or other adults. Touching young participants, including well intentional informal and formal gestures such as putting a hand on a young person shoulder or arm can if repeated regularly, lead to questions being raised. As a general principle all coaches should not make gratuitous or unnecessary physical actions Coaches should ensure that their teaching techniques do not include any of these actions.
Responding to distress and success
There may be occasions where a distressed young person needs comfort and reassurance which may include physical comforting such as a caring parent would give. Physical contact may also be required to prevent an accident or injury and this would be wholly appropriate. A young person or coach may wish to mark a success or achievement with a hug or other physical gesture. Coaches and administrative members of BRFC Mini and Youth Section should use their discretion in such cases to ensure that what is (and what is see by others) normal and natural does not become unnecessary and unjustified contact, particularly with the same young person over a period of time. It must also be remembered that what to an adult may seem appropriate may not be viewed in the same light by a young person.
Sports Science and medicine
There may be some roles with rugby where physical contact is and/or a requirement of the role, particularly sports science or medicine. These tasks should only be undertaken by properly trained or qualified practitioners. This guidance does not seek to replace the specific guidance and codes of practice developed for those professionals and reference should be made to the appropriate body for that discipline.