All Australian rugby players aged 10 to 15 will now be subject to mandatory assessments about whether their size and skills match their age groups.
Rugby Australia has introduced new guidelines, which include age-weight exemption rules, to ensure safety among its junior rugby players.
The move is seen as a significant step in Australian rugby as there was no previous standard for determining whether a player needed to be moved an age group up or down from their age.
The new guidelines were formed on the basis of a study, which found that not only weight should be considered when deciding if a player should move age groups.
Australian coaches will now have to consider size, maturity, playing experience and fitness before making any decisions about a player.
‘The changes we have made with our size and age guidelines are aimed at making the game safer and more enjoyable for all participants. while staying true to the value that rugby is a game for people of all shapes and sizes,’ said Rugby Australia head of services Lachlan Clark.
‘This is the culmination of a review which has been two years in the making, and is backed by an extensive research project, which we believe puts Australia at the forefront of world rugby in this area.’
The Blue Card initiative, which ensures that players are taken off the ground for a medical check if they are suspected of experiencing a concussion, has also been extended to age-group rugby.
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