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Middlesex RugbyBest Practice Guides : Middlesex Rugby

Best Practice Guides

Click the links below to read our Best Practice Guides:

You can also find some useful RFU support resource link here.

Recruitment and Retention

Recruitment and retention are issues that face every club, no matter how big or small. We have put together some ideas on how to help with your recruitment strategy, based on what has worked successfully at some of our clubs within Middlesex. Not all of them will be suitable for your club but why not try out some different recruitment methods to see what works best for you.

The RFU Website also has information on different formats of the game and how people can get involved with playing.


  • Word of mouth
  • Put flyers and posters up in shops and pubs
    • Follow up every month/six months to replenish
    • Get players to do it
    • Identify places that could have potential players, e.g. business with lifts
  • Advertise free on the Middlesex Rugby club recruitment page
  • Utilise international match days – generate interest to get people to the club to watch the match
  • Have a presence on the high street
  • Should you expect a ‘new’ coach to bring in players?
  • Engage the coach and players in recruitment
  • Have a strong identity to let people know you are there
  • Are you putting barriers up to recruiting e.g. old boy’s teams? Potential players feel they cannot join
  • Engage with residents and schools
  • Give each player five business cards, showing the club website address and the club captain’s details, to hand out to potential players
  • Have a good website and keep it up to date
  • Have a sign up process on your website
  • Use social media – Facebook and Twitter
  • Put a recruitment poster up on Facebook and then get all the players to commit to liking, sharing and tagging friends that may be of interest to generate spreading the word
  • Send regular/weekly emails to all players
  • Publicise training and seasons events as early as possible


  • Get feedback from new players as they won’t have any prejudice or pre-conceived ideas.
  • All players should be equal until they pull their shirts on for the game. They should all socialise together. Don’t put barriers up between teams.
  • Help to develop a stronger club culture by making it mandator for everybody to come back to the club after a game to have a drink before they leave.
  • Players need to get to know their RDO and have more interaction with Middlesex Rugby, attending county meetings where and when relevant.
  • Hold regular captain’s meetings and follow up with a chairman’s meetings (meetings without the full committee present) to allow the players to have a voice and give honest feedback., as this may not happen in club meetings when the full committee is present.
  • Organise weekends away to encourage team bonding.
  • Develop links with other clubs. If you are struggling to put a 2nd / 3rd team out and another local club has the same issue, join forces so that the players from both clubs get a game.
  • Engage the team captains to sort out match reports and photos and make sure new players are mentioned/tagged.

Valuing Volunteers

Here are some ideas and suggestions to encourage new and existing volunteers at your club.

Share the load

Split roles into bite size chunks so the job doesn’t appear too large or too daunting

Recognise Volunteers

  • Club Awards
  • Middlesex Recognition Awards
  • Middlesex Long Service Awards
  • RFU Value the Volunteer Certificates

Find out what people do as their day job

Can they give a small amount of time to the club, even if they are not taking on a specific job function?

  • a designer could help with the website or posters
  • a lawyer could help with planning applications
  • a builder could help to fix the leaky roof

Don’t force someone to do a role they don’t want to do

  • Find out what their concerns are
  • Find out what you or the club could do to help them take on the role or part of the role
  • Manage expectations

Share information

  • Help your volunteers by sharing the club’s vision/strategy/development plan and what the club is trying to achieve so that they feel part of something
  • Will the volunteer benefit from a mentor, either one from the existing club structure or someone from another club doing a similar role
  • Put together training plans and identify courses which may help the volunteer in their role
  • Put together job descriptions / job roles and key responsibilities

Get regular feedback

  • Ask how they are getting on
  • Positives and negatives from their perspective
  • Ask where they need help or support
  • Give them positive feedback
  • Make them feel valued for what they are doing

Encourage new volunteers

  • Encourage new ideas – keep an open mind

Further information

Further information on volunteering.

The following national organisations may be useful starting points to look at how we can engage new volunteers. Counties and/or Unitary Authorities often have similar smaller scale organisations.

Survival Guide

There are a number of initiatives your club can undertake to ensure that it not only survives, but thrives. Here are a few simple pointers.


Clubs should ensure that Club Coach Coordinators’ details are up to date on the Rugby First website so coaching masterclasses and opportunities are being received.


Some clubs are recruiting a lot of players by forming close links with universities. Does your club have links with local universities? If not then get in touch with the RFU Student Liaison Officer to discuss how you go about doing this.

Increasing awareness

Increasing the awareness of your club in the local community is vital. Middlesex Chair of Rugby Development Louise Latter or Chair of Marketing and Communication Waheed Aslam are both happy to come to your club to offer advice.


It is widely accepted that the two best forms of recruitment a club can use is through word of mouth and their website. Word of mouth is fairly obvious, your current players bringing their mates down is a very powerful recruitment tool. But it is vital that your website is up to date. When re-doing your website or assessing your website then remember the ‘2 click rule’. If people who are newly on your website can not find the information they are looking for in two clicks then they generally try another website. Think about what a new prospective player might need when he first goes on to your website.


Keep sending us back feedback on how the RFU and Middlesex Rugby can support you. We can’t help clubs unless we know what is wrong. The group meetings are a great way to get your voice heard.


Getting people to volunteer is hard, in order for people to accept the prospect of volunteering they have to know what it is you’re asking of them. Does your club have formal job descriptions of the key jobs that need filling every year? Does this include an estimate of how much time it will take? You might find more volunteers if they knew it was only 2-3 hours a week you were asking for. Bite size chunks is also vital for prospective volunteers – don’t overload people too much at the start!

Code of Conduct

Middlesex Rugby is committed to helping its clubs promote the Core Values of the game and to strengthening the positive image of the game of rugby. A key element in this is for all those involved in delivering mini and junior rugby to put the children’s development, wellbeing and enjoyment at the heart of all we do and the “TREDS” Code of Conduct has been developed to help achieve this. TREDS stands for:


As young players we are taught to follow the Core Values of rugby and so it is important to ensure that we continue to follow these values as players, volunteers, coaches, referees, spectators and parents.

RFU Core Values

By following the Core Values we agree to:

  • Respect our match officials and accept their decisions
  • Respect opposition players and supporters
  • Value our coaches and those who run our clubs
  • Respect our referees, they are in charge of the game and give up their time so that we can play. They are volunteers and do their best to make sure that we are safe and having fun
  • Value our coaches and respect players from the opposition, their coaches and supporters
  • Observe fair play both on and off the pitch
  • Be generous in victory and dignified in defeat
  • Play rugby because we enjoy it. Enjoyment is what our game is about
  • Ensure that our game is not spoilt by the bad behaviour of adults: parents, coaches or spectators.

Touchline behaviour

Touchline behaviour is very important to rugby. Inappropriate behaviour from parents, supporters and coaches can have a seriously negative impact on the sport and the quality of experience enjoyed by the players.

It is the duty of every club to ensure that our players enjoy the game and to ensure that referees and officials are not verbally or physically abused. As a club, you should ensure that you provide your members with Code of Conduct cards.

The cards state that as members of the rugby family WE ALWAYS:

  • Support positively and applaud good play
  • Respect officials and opposition players
  • Remember that children are playing to have fun
  • Behave as good role models on the touchline
  • Congratulate the opposition and make their supporters welcome

As members of the rugby family WE NEVER:

  • Force our child to play rugby
  • Stray from the touchline onto the pitch
  • Verbally abuse match officials, players or other spectators
  • Threaten, intimidate or use bad language
  • Give offence by way of insult, humiliation or discrimination


As a club you can define your own code of conduct. Examples are provided below for reference.

  • Play for the fun of the game, not just to please your parents or coach
  • Play by the laws of the game
  • Do not argue with the referee’s decision
  • Control your temper
  • It is a ‘team’ game! It is very rewarding to play rugby with your mates. Don’t try and grab all the glory yourself
  • Treat all players as you would like to be treated
  • Don’t show off, bully or take unfair advantage of any players – it’s not part of rugby
  • Remember the game is about having fun, improving your skills, making friends and feeling good about yourself and team mates
  • If you lose, accept it with good grace and try harder next time
  • Listen to your coaches and referees, work with teammates. Without them and your opponents, you cannot play!


  • Do not force an unwilling child to participate in a game of rugby
  • Children play rugby for their enjoyment, not yours
  • Encourage your child to play by the laws of the game
  • Teach your child that playing well and fairly is more important than winning
  • Never ridicule or yell at your child for making mistakes. Support and encourage your child. Console them for losing, but encourage them to try harder next time
  • Remember children learn best by example. Applaud good play by both sides
  • Do not question a referee or a linesman’s judgement or their honesty. There is no place for ‘touchline rage’ in rugby
  • Support all efforts to remove verbal or physical abuse from rugby. Report anything your Club Safeguarding Officer or one of the club’s committee
  • Help your club function properly by turning up on time with the appropriate kit. Be prepared to help out if asked
  • Value the importance of the volunteer coaches. They give up their time to provide recreation for your child. Support their decision when your child has not been selected for a game. If you have issues with the way a coach is performing, talk to them first. Refer any issues to the appropriate representative at the club.


  • Don’t overload young players with demands, technical information and tactics – remember they are children and they are playing rugby for fun
  • Don’t overplay the better players – include everyone! Ensure all players get at least 20 minutes playing time per game.
  • Think about how you are going to use your players for the whole game utilising the rolling substitutions allowed, rather than just a straight substitution towards the end of the game.
  • Young players develop at different times and in different ways – make allowances for their physical, emotional and mental maturity and development
  • Winning isn’t everything- teach your players to enjoy taking part and performing to the best of their ability. Encourage each player to reach his or her potential
  • Never abuse, yell, criticise or ridicule children for making mistakes or losing a game
  • Be organised – establish a structure for the season, prepare a coaching plan for each session, have the appropriate kit. Above all, communicate to players, parents and fellow coaches to set expectations
  • Make sure players develop an understanding of the laws of the game, that they respect opponents, teammates, coaches and officials
  • Never question an official’s judgement or honesty
  • Ensure players and parents behaviour is appropriate and in keeping with the spirit of the game and the expectations of the club


  • Ensure all your members, volunteers and supporters are aware of the RFU Core Values and your club’s Code of Conduct
  • Introduce a Touchline Manager for all games at all levels. The Touchline Manager is responsible for ensuring that club Code of Conduct is adhered to and will intervene if there is inappropriate touchline behaviour
  • Ask your Rugby Development Officer (RDO) for help if you are experiencing continued inappropriate touchline behaviour
  • For mini rugby, look at introducing the RFU’s Kids First Rugby initiative. 
  • Promote the RFU Core Values in your clubhouse and on letterhead/posters/flyers etc
  • Have your Code of Conduct visible for all visitors to see and understand when they enter the clubhouse
  • Meet and greet your visiting teams, make sure they know where the changing rooms are, which pitch they are playing on, introduce them to the referee, give them details of after match hospitality

Further Information

For more information about the Middlesex and RFU Code of Conduct, contact Peter Baveystock, email: .

Coaching Guide

Coaching is an important aspect for any rugby club. Coaching allows us to develop, sustain and increase participation in the game of rugby union.

To be an effective coach, you will need to fulfil a number of different roles, covering the technical, tactical, physical and mental aspects demanded by the game. Whether you want to coach junior tag rugby on a Sunday, become a more advanced coach or are a teacher wanting help with dedicated lesson plans, there is a coaching course and qualification to suit your requirements.

If you are new to the game of rugby union or new to coaching, you would be well advised to take some of the Foundation Courses on offer. The England Rugby site has a detailed section on coaching, which allows you to work out which age group and level you want to coach at, and therefore, which coaching courses you need to take.

Tag Rugby

A fast-moving, non-contact invasion game suitable for boys and girls to play together. The key to the game is enjoyment, with running and handling skills to the fore. The Start Coaching Tag Rugby course lasts for approximately three hours and is practical-based. There is no formal assessment, and the course is delivered by an accredited coach educator / developer.

The course is delivered through a game sense approach, and is accompanied by a supporting DVD. At the conclusion of the course you will have gained:

  • An understanding of how to deliver a safe and enjoyable practical session
  • Knowledge of how to coach and improve skills through games
  • An understanding of the application of a game sense approach
  • Knowledge of the rules of tag rugby
  • The ability to apply the rules of tag rugby (refereeing)

Rugby Ready

Everybody involved in coaching, refereeing and playing rugby needs a sense of safe practice. The IRB Rugby Ready programme is intended to raise awareness of good practice and help stakeholders manage the inherent risks of the sport by putting appropriate safeguards in place. The course lasts for approximately three hours and is practical-based. There is no formal assessment, and the course is delivered by an accredited coach educator / developer. At the conclusion of the course you will have gained:

  • An understanding of how to deliver a safe and enjoyable practical session
  • Knowledge of how to coach and improve contact skills & particularly the tackle
  • Knowledge of how to coach and improve scrummage engagement skills
  • Knowledge of contact skills

Scrum Factory

Specifically designed to take coaches and players through a journey, from developing and conditioning individual body posture, through to building an eight player scrum.

Scrum Factory Level 1 is aimed at a coach of a group of players who is working under the guidance of a Head Coach or Coaching Co-ordinator. You will be able to deliver aspects of coaching sessions under guidance. The course is 3 days of theory and practical and you must have attended a Rugby Ready Course prior to taking your Level 1 coaching qualification. At the conclusion of the course, you will be able to:

  • Safely organise and supervise rugby union activities.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of and ability to coach: handling skills, tackling, contact and continuity, 5 ‘man-scrum’ and line-out throwing and support techniques.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of: player development, good coaching practice, coaching skills, health and safety, laws of the game.
  • Identify and adapt rugby union activities and sessions for a variety of different age groups.

Scrum Factory Level 2 is aimed at a coach of a group or team of players who needs to plan, deliver and review coaching sessions. The course is 3 days of Theory and Practical, attend CPD sessions Scrum Factory and Rugby Ready or Level 1 coaching qualification instead of R/R. At the conclusion of the course, you will be able to:

  • Understand the ethical coaching process, the needs of the player and related issues in sports science.
  • Plan, conduct and evaluate a series of rugby union coaching sessions in a systematic and progressive manner.
  • Coach the scrimmage, line-out, back play, defence, continuity and counter-attack.
  • Promote and establish positive working relationships and high standards of behaviour.
  • Ensure the health and safety of players.
  • Demonstrate responsibility for their own learning and development.
  • Promote the sport of rugby union in a positive and constructive manner.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the principles of attack and defence.

Scrum Factory Level 3 is aimed at a Head Coach of a team who needs to plan, implement, analyse and revise annual coaching programmes. The course is run over a 12-month period. These may change You must hold a Level 2 coaching qualification before you can start your Level 3 and demonstrate attendance at CPD sessions. You must be actively coaching a team or an annual programme. At the conclusion of the course, you will be able to:

  • Analyse participants’ current and potential performance needs and aspirations.
  • Plan an annual coaching programme according to agreed goals.
  • Manage a safe and effective coaching environment.
  • Deliver a coaching programme using a range of coaching styles and interventions to meet players’ needs.
  • Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of coaching programmes.
  • Manage and develop personal coaching practice.
  • Coach techniques and tactical concepts of rugby union.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the units and sub-units and their contribution to team pay and the principles of rugby union.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the principles of attack and defence.
  • Use an effective combination of personal attributes and skills in order to manage change within specialist environments.
  • Be creative when problem-solving and decision-marking within selected areas of coaching.

Further information

Courses are generally held over weekends and for Levels 1 – 3 coaching qualifications you must be over the age of 18. For a breakdown of coaching qualifications click here (opens up PDF link).

Once you have started your coaching journey, you will be supported by your Club Coaching Co-ordinator and, in conjunction with Middlesex Rugby, your Area Training Officer (ATO) or Area training Manager (ATM) and Rugby Development Officers (RDO). You will also have access to regular CPD sessions that are run and be given access to Rugby Coaching Drills (

For more detailed information on Coaching and courses talk to your Club Coaching Co-ordinator, your Rugby Development Officer (RDO) or contact (ATO) Clare Daniel at , (ATM) Clive Cashell at .

Useful references:

RFU – Coaches

RFU – Introduction to Rugby

Middlesex Rugby