Child Welfare

Message from Philip Browne, IRFU CEO

Young people are the lifeblood of any sport and Irish Rugby is no different to other sports in this regard. We want to welcome young people into our clubs and schools so that they can enjoy our great game.

It goes without saying that parents are entitled to know that their children are involved and playing rugby in an environment that respects young peoples' saftey, health, welfare and dignity. It is our responsibility both at Union, Branch, Club and Schools levels to ensure that this is the case and I commend this document which outlines the IRFU Child Welfare Policy and I thank those who have worked hard to provide such clear guidelines for us all to follow.

Declaration of Intent

Every rugby club is required to act in accordance with the regulations and guidelines in this document and a sign a Declaration of Intent to that effect. All age grade volunteers (coaches / managers / referees and / or any team assistants) to receive a copy of the Child Welfare document and after reading the document sign the Declaration of Intent page and hand it to the Club Child Welfare Officer for record keeping in the club.All age-grade volunteers in ROI working regularly and continuously with young people should complete the Garda Vetting form, see documentation below.

All age grade volunteers (coaches/managers/referees and/or any team assistants) working in Northern Ireland or in clubs affiliated to the IRFU Ulster Branch must adhere to the requirements as specified by the IRFU Ulster Branch and Sport NI (Information & requirements available from the IRFU Ulster Branch). It is important to note that clubs are responsible for the recruitment and screening of volunteers & therefore must have suitable policies in place.

Important Information for Schools

All Primary and Secondary Schools have adopted Department of Education /Science Child protection Guidelines. Each School has a designated Liaison Person(DLP) to deal with issues of Child Protection.

Each School has a deputy designated Liaison person to deal with issues of Child Protection. Vetting procedures are in place for all adults with access to children.

The Child Protection Guidelines apply to all personnel (staff/non staff) involved in all school activities involving access to children. The IRFU Child Welfare Policy may be used by Schools to compliment existing School Practice.


IRFU Child Welfare Policy

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IRFU Garda Vetting Form & ID Check

Download PDF

Declaration of Intent

Download PDF

Code of Conduct

Download PDF

Frequently Asked Questions

IRFU Strategies to support Age Grade Rugby

Long Term Player Development Pathway

Ensure a quality experience throughout all levels of participation for players / coaches and administrators

Regulations for Leprechaun, Mini and Youth Rugby

To monitor how these games are played.

Child Welfare Policy

To define roles and guide clubs and volunteers on these issues ensuring best practice in all rugby activities.

Codes of Conduct

To ensure participants understand and adhere to what is expected of them when involved with age grade rugby activities.

Player Registration

To ensure players are registered with their club and branch.

Committees (Mini and Youth)

To administer, guide and develop rugby at these levels.

Child Welfare Officers

To ensure the implementation of IRFU Child Welfare Policy at club / branch and national level and to represent the interest of the player.

Coaching courses (Lep / Mini / Foundation & Level 1)

To have qualification opportunities for coaches ensuring best practice.

IRB Rugby Ready Programme

Good practice models for physical conditioning; technique, injury prevention and management.

What to look for when you join a club

  • Recruitment of leaders
  • Child Welfare initiatives
  • Safety and Best practice models in the club
  • Adult to player ratios
  • Training & playing schedule
  • Selection, inclusion, playing and development
  • Player registration and membership
  • Codes of Conduct for players, coaches, spectators, parents and referees

What do we expect of our players?

  • All players to be registered and to have their registration cards with them at matches.
  • Membership fees to be paid on time as part of the player insurance.
  • To be committed to the training and playing schedule of the club.
  • To have the right attitude towards training, playing, team mates, leaders, selection and representing the club.
  • To respect the Ethos, Laws of the Game and traditions of rugby.
  • To have the appropriate training and playing kit:

    For matches:

    Club jersey / shorts and sock and gum shield (properly fitted)

    For training:

    Jersey / socks / shorts / gum shield - ensure kit is warm and safe (no zips/ strings or sharp edges etc)

What do we expect of Leaders?

  • Should be recruited through the club recruitment policy.
  • To go through relevant screening re: child welfare & vetting.
  • Be appropriately qualified.
  • Plan and prepare for matches & training sessions .
  • Be fair when dealing with players and particularly when dealing with selection and inclusion issues.
  • Set the right example and be approachable at all times

What do we expect of parents?

  • Always support your child in his/her efforts - don't let your ambitions rule their experience.
  • Ensure your child(ren) have required kit whether training or playing.
  • Attend matches and training as much as possible.
  • Volunteer to assist the club when available.
  • Ensure you and your child are on time for sessions/ matches and especially when collecting your child after such events.
  • Respect the club and volunteer efforts - join the club!
  • Adhere to the Code of Conduct of the club.

What is expected of clubs?

  • Have a policy on child welfare, recruitment, best practice, selection, training and fixtures.
  • Ensure adherence to all Codes of Conduct.
  • Ensure all coaches are appropriately qualified.
  • Appoint a Child Welfare Officer and ensure access for appropriate training.
  • Committees (youth and mini) to meet regularly to ensure adherence to all club policies.
  • Strive to create a safe environment for all rugby activities

The value of a Child Welfare Policy

  • Sets policies to ensure enjoyment; inclusion and fair play.
  • Promotes properly recruited and qualified coaches.
  • Allows the appointment of Child Welfare Officers to represent the interest of the players.
  • Supports the policies and initiatives regarding child awareness and children in sport.
  • Recognises the importance of the player registration scheme.
  • Highlights the Codes of Conduct.
  • Encourages respect and dignity for all participants.
  • Supports sportsmanship and fair play

What to do if there is a concern?

1. Try and establish whether it is Poor Practice or Unlawful Practice

2. Consult the Club Welfare Officer

3. If not sure contact the local Health Service Executive (HSE) or Garda Siochana and ask for an "informal consultancy"

Poor Practice

If the concern is internal

1. Inform the Club Child Welfare Officer

2. Club Welfare Officer and Management Committee deal with the concern as an internal issue and inform the Branch and Branch Welfare Officer of the concern(s) and action taken

If the concern is Inter-club or Branch

1. Report to Club Child Welfare Officers and Club Management Committees.

2. Refer to Branch Child Welfare Officer and National Child Welfare Officer

3. Branch and National Welfare Officers to deal with issue and inform Branch and Clubs of the concern(s) and action taken.

If the concern relate to a Club Management or Committee Member

1. Report to Branch Child Welfare Officer

2. Refer to National Child Welfare Officer

3. National Child Welfare Officer to deal with issue and refer to Branch and Clubs of the concern(s) and action taken

Please note: Should you not be happy with the initial outcome of the process you may refer this issue to the National Child Welfare Officer. The final decision will be with the National Child Welfare Officer and National Child Protection Officer.

Unlawful practice or abuse in Rugby

1. Refer concern to Statutory Authority - local Health Service Executive or An Garda Siochana / PSNI

2. Inform Branch, National Welfare and National Child Protection Officers as a "need to know"

3. Statutory Authorities investigates and inform IRFU of actions

4. If Statutory Authorities decide no to prosecute - IRFU can initiate disciplinary actions

5. IRFU to decide on actions relating to suspension depending on the enquiry

6. IRFU to decide on procedures regarding media and general enquiries

Unlawful practice "outside rugby"

1. Refer concern to Statutory Authority - local Health Service Executive or An Garda Siochana / PSNI

2. Concern is now passed on to authorities

3. Local Authority investigates

Glossary of Terms and Additional Information

"Club Child Welfare Officer" is a person appointed by a Club to implement the directions of the National and Branch Child Welfare Officers and to follow the policy for Age Grade Players of the IRFU.

"Parents" includes guardians.

"Sports Leaders" means all adults involved in children's sports.

LTPD - Long Term Player Development.

Mini and Leprechaun Rugby Regulations click here.

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