Devon Colts' Merit Table regulations 2017-18


ENGLAND Rugby has undertaken a review and consultation process over the last few years and introduced new rules of play (Age Grade Review) for all players up to the age grade of under-18.

The 2017-18 season will see a structured playing calendar that has identified set weeks in which college/schools and rugby clubs can play competitive games.

This is designed to protect the player from being overplayed and balance their development and training. 

So with this in mind Devon RFU have set these guidelines: 

The Devon RFU guideline (supported by the RFU) for colts age players with effect from the 1st September 2017 is that a player can play no more than the equivalent of five full games of contact rugby a month with a maximum of 35 games within a season. It will be the responsibility of all managing rugby in Devon to monitor this (clubs, schools, colleges and the academy). Should this guideline be disregarded for any player the DRFU will ask the relevant bodies to justify their actions as to why a player playing time exceeded these guidelines as this could be seen as a disciplinary issue. It would as a matter of course also be flagged up as safeguarding issue as this would be seen as neglect as the relevant body will potentially be putting the player at risk and also disregarding the advice of the CB. The DRFU safeguarding manager will be expected to be informed and the matter refereed to the RFU safeguarding team.

The Devon League/Cup is administered by an appointed person who will refer and liaise with the competition sub-committee, who have been appointed by the Devon mini and junior (M&J) committee; 

Administrator: Steve Alexander (Brixham RFC)

Tel: 07894862636 – Email:

Competition sub-committee:  Mark Goodman (Devon M&J chairman), Nigel Middleton (Devon M&J vice-chairman), Verity White (Devon M&J secretary), Joel Caddy (Kingsbridge) Paul Parrett (Honiton RFC). TBC


1.1. The competition will be known as the Devon Colts Merit Table (DCMT), and shall be subject to the direction and control of the Devon RFU acting through its Competitions Sub-Committee and the Devon Colts Merit Table Sub Committee.

1.2. The competition will be administered by the DCMT sub Committee who will work as a team, who is responsible for the day-to-day running of the league on behalf of the Devon RFU.

1.3. By entering the competition, clubs agree to abide by the regulations as laid out.

1.4. The Devon RFU Competitions Sub-Committee has full powers of adjudicating on all matters relating to the competition and their decisions shall be final.

1.5. The administrators will adjudicate on matters relating to the competition. Their decisions are binding on teams entered the league. Teams can appeal on matters of administration of the league to the Devon RFU Competitions Sub-Committee.

1.6. The DCMT will be bases on three competitions.

The cup and shield will have a pool of seven playing home and away with the top two sides playing in the final.

The plate will run with 10 side playing only once, with the top one, two, three and four playing each other again and the top two will play for the plate. Fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth will play each other with the top two playing for the bowl.

1.7 Finals dates and venue TBC.


2.1 The league competition is open to any rugby football clubs currently affiliated to the Devon RFU.

2.2 All clubs must adhere to the policies of the Devon RFU and the regulations of the RFU. Any club found to have contravened these policies and regulations by the CB Discipline Committee will be deducted league points or withdrawn from the league.

2.3 An entry fee will be payable by each club, the amount of which to be decided by the Devon RFU M & J Committee at the AGM each season. The fee to cover the cost of administration, trophies, medals, etc must be paid before the 1st September in the year of the season.


3.1 To play in the league, a player must be under-18 years of age on the 1 September of the year in which the season commences.

3.2 The England RFU Age Grade regulations permit a player to play UP one age grade provided they have written permission from their parent or guardian to do so. In addition, the coach must assess that they are physically and emotionally able to play up one age grade, and have the skills and abilities to play at the higher age grade.  Permission forms must be lodged (e-mail a copy) with the competition administrator prior to the start of the game and be available for inspection by the opposition at each game the player plays in. You will need to show that the administrator has confirmed (an e-mail will be returned asap) the player is accepted to play in the competition to the opposition. Remember that the club and county safeguarding officer need to sign off first.

3.3 Players must be current members of the RFC they are playing for and must be registered on the RFU GMS, Game Management System for that club, as active members on the available schemes, as well as with the league administrator, All players need to be registered with the subcommittee of the DCMT by email by the 1st September.

3.4 Players may transfer after the start of the season with the permission of the Competition Sub-Committee in advance of the move. This permission will need to be supported with written support from both junior club chairman in line with the Devon RFU Transfer policy. A transfer will be considered by the competition sub-committee on individual merit, consideration will be given to house or school moves out of a clubs catchment area.

3.5 Players who are new to the game, and are not previously registered with the England RFU as an active player, can be registered by a club with the RFU prior to 1st March in that season. Once registered, they can play in the league competition.

3.6 For the purposes of these rules, players that transfer from any club in Cornwall, Somerset or Dorset & Wilts constituent bodies, will be treated as if they played for a club affiliated to Devon.

3.7 Players that transfer from elsewhere in England, or transfer from another RFU, will be treated as “new” players as per 3.5 above.

3.8 Players are allowed to play down an Age Grade with the prior approval of the Devon RFU Player Dispensation Committee in line with the England RFU Regulations and guidelines. This application must be submitted by the junior club chairman or secretary, with the support of the club safeguarding officer. Permission forms will be issued by the committee for the opposition to view and a central register kept.

3.9 Any player who is contracted with an RFU Academy or an Academy affiliated to a Premiership or Championship will not be eligible to play in the completion.

3.10 A max of five players in a match day squad may have played for Exeter Chiefs U17s/ U18s only.


4.1 Fixtures in the leagues shall be arranged in advance by the administrator and must be played on or in the days preceding the date given (within the week assigned under the RFU Structured Season for Age Grade Rugby). League matches will take priority over friendly/touring matches. The fixtures will appear on the Devon RFU Website.

4.2 Matches will be 35 minutes each way. All matches will be played in accordance with the International Rugby Board (IRB) and England RFU rules and regulations.

4.3 No Age Grade player is permitted to play any additional time in a match.

4.4 In the event of a clash of colours, and/or at the request of the referee, it will be the HOME TEAM’S responsibility to change strip.

4.5 If the point’s differential in any match reaches 50, the referee will consult with the coaches about continuing the match. It is recommended that the match continues with the team in the lead making substitutions to allow new or less experienced players to play, or the players are swapped between teams to even out the play. In any event, the maximum point’s differential that will be awarded to any team is 50.

4.6 All matches will be played in accordance with the U19 Law Variations of the WORLD RUGBY and any ENGLAND RUGBY ELV’s in force. However, there may be certain exceptions relating to local circumstances and which will be covered in these regulations. It is recommended that all coaches and players visit the ENGLAND RUGBY Website and acquaint themselves with the U19 variations. These are also available in the ENGLAND RUGBY Handbook.  


For the purposes of section five of these Regulations:

A club may register more than 23 players, but can only have 23 named players on the day, with other registered squad members being available to play for the opposition if they wish.

A team shall be defined as the number of registered players on the pitch at any point during the match not to be greater than 15 or less than 12 at the start of the game.

5.1 Match day squads for League matches can comprise up to 23 players.

5.2 In order for a match to proceed, under these regulations, both teams must start with at least 10 of their own registered playing squad.

5.3 Where a RFC has a small squad, and experiences team raising difficulties on a match day, it may borrow up to five players from their match day opponents, subject to 5.2 above.

5.4 It is expected that clubs will co-operate with their opponents in the loaning of players, to ensure that the maximum number of players are involved on match days, but players cannot be forced to play for opponents. Under age or Over age players must not be loaned, under any circumstances.

5.5 If players refuse to play for their opponents, which is their prerogative the match will be played with equal numbers on each team (subject to 5.2 above). Teams may have any number in their squads (subject to 5.1 and 5.2) with rolling substitutions being allowed at all times. Should a team with a stating number of 15 be reduced to less than 12, Or the starting number of the team is 12 and the number reduces to 11 (except for yellow and red cards) on the field of play the game should be stopped. The number of minutes played, the score at the time play was stopped should be recorded on the result sheet. A report will need to be completed within 48 hours and submitted to the league administrator for the competition sub-committee decision on the reasons for the game stopping and why the club couldn’t start the game with more than 15 players.

Reduced number teams will line up with the following:

14-a-side – no number 8

13-a-side – no flankers (6 & 7)

12-a-side – No back row (6, 7 & 8)

11-a-side – No outside centre (6, 7, 8 & 13) (only used for yellow and red cards)

10-a-side – One of the wings (6, 7, 8, 13 & 11 or 14) (only used for yellow and red cards)

5.6 In the event that a loaned players receives a red card, the team that he is playing for will be deducted a league point, as per 6.2 below. Consideration will be given to the home club also being deducted points.

5.7 In all league matches, both teams will have the same number of players on the field of play at all times, except: where a player is temporarily suspended (‘yellow card’); or dismissed by the referee (‘red card’).

5.8 Each team in the competition should endeavour to have suitably trained and experienced front-row players and replacements. In a squad of 23 players, at least four players must be able to play at loose-head or tight-head prop, and two players must be able to play at hooker. If, for reasons beyond a team’s control there are no front row replacements available during a match, the referee will order non-contested scrums and fill in the result sheet with the time this event started.

5.9 If a team does not have a suitably trained and experienced front row for the start of an arranged match, the match may be treated as an un-played match (Section 9.5). The match will continue as a league match with non-contested scrums and the result sheet annotated to reflect this situation by the referee. The team or teams without sufficient front row players will submit a reason to the league administrator within 48 hours of the game finishing so that the competition sub-committee can rule if the game will be treated as a friendly or league game. This decision will be notified to the club within two weeks of the match being played.


6.1 In all the league competitions, 1st phase and 2nd phase, points will be awarded on the following basis:

Win = 4 points

Draw = 2 points

Bonus points will be awarded as follows:

1 point on scoring four tries in a game. (*)

1 point if the losing margin is 15 points or less. (*)

1 point if you play the game and even if you have to borrow players (*)

(*) It will be possible to accumulate all these bonus points, even for a losing side.

6.2 A league point will be deducted for each red card issued to any player in all league matches. (Any subsequent Devon Disciplinary Panel punishment to be in addition to this one point deduction)

6.3 In determining league positions, the teams will be placed in order according to those with the most league points. Where there is a tie, points differential will take effect.

6.4 The winner of the finals will be decided in the following manner:

a) Team which has scored the most points in the match;

b) Team which has scored the most tries in the match;

c) Team which has scored the most converted tries in the match;


7.1 Matches played in the competition will be officiated by suitably qualified referees, appointed by the Devon Rugby Referees' Society or Plymouth Rugby Referees Society.

7.2 If either Referees' Society notifies a home club that no society referee is available, the club can make application to the league administrator for a referee to be appointed in the following order:

Member of a referee society from another CB

ELRA qualified club referee, from another RFC, or

ELRA qualified referee from within either participating club, where that referee is independent of the age group teams playing.

7.3 It shall be the responsibility of the home side to confirm match day arrangements with the appointed referee, by the Wednesday immediately preceding the match, or as soon as the appointment is made if later. Failure to do so, and therefore no referee turning up, will be treated as an unplayed match in accordance with Section 9.5.

7.4 Where clubs cancel matches and they don’t notify the referee the society will charge that club for an attendance and any expenses occurred.

7.5 Each team should provide one competent person to act as touch judge, ideally not a player replacement, acting under the jurisdiction of the referee. Unless they are appointed as assistant referees, touch judges cannot signal offences or foul play, but may be consulted by the referee in appropriate circumstances.

7.6 Where games are postponed the Devon Referee Society appointments secretaries will be contacted by the league administrator in advance to allow them time to arrange for an appointment to be made. Clubs must notify the league administrator on the day that the game is postponed allowing at least one weeks’ notice for the referees’ society.


8.1 It is the responsibility of the coach and team manager for each team entered into the leagues to comply with the administrative arrangements stipulated by the league administrator on behalf of the competition sub-committee.

8.2 It is the responsibility of both teams to provide the match result sheet for each teams which must be completed and handed to the referee no later than 30 minutes prior to the kick-off. This will contain the names and RFU registration numbers of the players in the squad for that match. The first names and surnames used must be those under which the player is registered on the RFU GMS, Game Management System.

8.3 Each coach or team manager must ensure they have RFU registration cards, containing a recent (no older than two years) picture of the player, for each player shown on the team sheet. These registration cards must be made available to the opposition to verify the eligibility of players.

8.4 Once the two coaches or team managers are both satisfied as to the eligibility of all the players, the team sheets will be handed to the referee.

8.5 It is the responsibility of both sides to inform the referee before the game which if any players have been loaned. It is the responsibility of the teams to inform the league administrator, by way of the match result sheet, when a RFC has loaned its opponents any players, players are playing up or down an age grade, and if any player, from either side, has received a Red card.

8.6 At the conclusion of the match, or as soon as possible afterwards, the referee will enter the final score and sign the match result sheet with information included if the scrums became non-contested at the start or at any point thereafter in the match. It is the responsibility of both sides to scan and email both result sheets to the league administrator to arrive no later than then Monday immediately following the match.

8.7 It is also the responsibility of the both teams to text the result of the match to the administrator on the day of the game stating the name of both teams and the scores and number of tries, for each. Example of text ; Barnstaple 15(3) v Ivybridge 14(2).

8.8 Late submissions of results on the day by text/e-mail and/or late submission of the full match result sheet by Monday following the match will be referred to the competition sub-committee by the league administrator so that a decision on the number of points to be deducted can be made. First deduction will incur a ONE point deduction to a second occurrence a deduction of THREE points. Further occurrences’ will be stepped up in THREE point increments. No maximum points deduction will be placed on a team.


8.9 If ground or weather conditions prevent a match being played at the ground of the club designated as the “home” side, every effort must be made to play the match either a) at the grounds of the designated “away” side, should that club have a suitable pitch available or b) at a neutral venue (in which case the first named team will be deemed the “home side”.)

8.10 If ground or weather conditions prevent a match being played at the grounds of either club, (or neutral venue) the match will be

A) re-scheduled by the league administrator if possible. A double if we still have that to play

C) Goes down as a draw 20-20 three points each

8.11 If a match is abandoned because of weather conditions (including bad light) when 50 or more minutes have been played, then the score at the moment of abandonment shall stand and be deemed the final score in the match. The referee’s decision as to the necessity for abandonment and the number of minutes played at the moment of abandonment shall be final.

8.12 Matches that are postponed due to availability of players or other reasonable circumstances must notify the scheduled opponents and league administrator before 12noon on the Friday prior to the Saturday match by telephone/mobile voice communication. The club postponing the match are also required to notify the referee and the referee appointments secretary by voice communication and confirm that all have been cancelled with an email to the league administrator. If the match is being played on another day the same timescales will apply. Failure to adhere will result in the game being referred to the competition sub-committee and maybe treated as a late submission of results (see 8. Matches will be re-arranged as per rule 8.10 if possible).  


9.1 Coaches must endeavour to play the fixtures on the dates circulated by the league administrator.

9.2 If a match has to be postponed due to weather and pitch conditions, the home team must inform the visiting team, and referee as soon as that decision is made. This is particularly important when teams could be travelling much farther afield than a local opponent. The league administrator will be notified by text at the time of postponement and email by the home team within 24 hours of the decision to postpone the match

9.3 League fixtures take precedence over friendly and touring matches.

9.4 Matches will not be postponed due to player county commitments, or other issues to do with squad availability, unless agreed by the competition sub-committee. If a team fails an obligation to play a match, the league administrator must be notified by text at the time and email within 48 hours of the scheduled game. The team that is deemed to be responsible for the match being unplayed will lose the game 15-0 and may be deducted up to two league points, depending on the circumstances by the competition sub-committee. The non-offending side will receive five league points.

9.5 Any club which fails to fulfil 25% of its scheduled fixtures at any stage during the season could be removed from the competition and all records expunged by the competition sub-committee after a review.


10.1 Any team which is proved to have fielded an ineligible player, whether by reason of being over or under the correct age, or because they are not registered, will be deducted five league points for every match in which the ineligible player(s) participated.

10.2 Coaches and team managers/administrators are responsible for their own behaviour, and that of the parents, guardians and supporters of their team. The standard of behaviour expected is that laid out in the RFU Codes of Conduct. Where the conduct of an individual or group of people falls below that standard, that individual or group may be liable for sanctions to be imposed by the Devon RFU Discipline Committee.

10.3 Each team should have a dedicated first aider, who may also be a coach. The first aider shall be the only person permitted to enter the field of play during the match. Clubs are required to have a person or persons identified and visible on match days.

10.4 Home teams must ensure that pitches are surrounded by a barrier, at least two metres from the touchline, and around the whole pitch, behind which all coaches, replacements and non-participating people must remain at all times.

10.5 A technical area maybe provided which should be clearly marked, where the replacements and coaches will be allowed.


11.1 A team may appeal regarding the decision of the league administrator in relation to the administration of that league.

11.2 An appeal must be made in writing, and come from either of the junior section chairman or secretary supported by the club chairman where possible and sent to the members of the competition sub-committee.

11.3 Appeals will not be accepted by the competitions sub-committee from coaches, parents or guardians of players.

11.4 An appeal must be made within seventy-two hours of the event/decision about which the appeal is being made.

11.5 The competitions sub-committee will arrange for the appeal to be heard in accordance with the procedures of the sub-committee. Members of the Devon RFU who have a conflict of interest for any reason will declare such and not be involved in the appeal hearing.

11.6 The parties will be informed in writing by the competitions sub-committee once the hearing has been completed.


Where not covered separately the rules of the Devon Senior Cup will be used as guidance, including financial arrangements by the competition sub-committee. 


The competition sub-committee will review these rules annually, or on ad-hoc basis if required.