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U17 and U18 National Clubs Competitions in 2017/18

A key element of the implementation plan for Age Grade rugby includes some focussed work on refining and decluttering the Under 17 and 18 season in particular. In addition, concentration on better supporting the transition of players from Age Grade into Adult rugby. This work continues but a review of the national competitions at U17 and 18 has led to some proactive changes for the 2017-18 season.

Contributions from across the game at Forums and through the Player Surveys over the last two seasons have really helped in a review into the effectiveness of the current national competition programme. It was agreed at Community Game Board in March 2017 that a new 128-team Under 18 Clubs National Cup will be introduced replacing the current national competitions for 2017-18.

The main differences from 2016-17 will be that:

  • The Under 18 competition will be jointly delivered and promoted by EMRU and RFU encouraging greater participation from clubs in non-represented areas of the country currently. This will move the National Colts Cup into a new format which aligns to and also supports the local playing programme more than it does currently. There will not be a plate competition, as this was experiencing similar walkover rates to the Under 17 national competition.
  • The Under 17 competition will not take place in the coming season. Entries have fallen in recent years due to clashes with stronger local competitive offers, mismatches have been rising and in particular walkover rates have grown to over 1 in 4 matches.

The ambition is that the new format will:

  • Ensure the national competition complements the local competition programme and does not conflict with it
  • Align the national competition with the published Playing Calendar for 2017-18 (utilises the dates already in the Under 18 calendar)
  • Ensures the top teams are participating in the National Clubs Competition
  • Builds on the best elements of the EMRU and National Under 17s competitions
  • Limits the level of change to the 2016-17 competition programme
  • Put regulations in place to ensure clubs don’t chase talent from different clubs and all players will have to have been registered by the end of September
  • Host the final at a ‘profile’ venue and financial support will be provided to the two hosts of the semi-finals to make sure they have a big event feel.

Structure of the Under 18 Clubs National Cup
There are five Round dates in the 2017-18 Playing Calendar:

  • Round 1 – 128 teams – Play by midnight on 14th January 2018 (20 weeks available)
  • Round 2 – 64 teams – w/c 5th February 2018
  • Round 3 – 32 teams – w/c 26th February 2018
  • Round 4 – 16 teams – w/c 19th March 2018
  • Quarter Finals – 8 teams – w/c 16th April 2018
  • Semi Finals – 4 teams – w/c 30th April 2018
  • Final – 2 teams – w/c 7th May 2018
Next steps:
Clubs can apply for entry to the Under 18 Clubs National Cup HERE by 31st July.

128 teams will be identified after the entry closing date based primarily on date of entry, but also considering previous walkover history, standard, appropriateness and national spread.

Click HERE to read the latest Age Grade Rugby newsletter.