Elmbridge Eagles Q&A for Kids and Parents


Q: Why are there 2 types of Rugby and not just 1?

Rugby League is one of 2 codes of Rugby, the other being Rugby Union. The sports both descend from an original Rugby code which was simply called Rugby Football after an initial split between Rugby and Football.

In 1895 the Rugby Football Union tried to enforce the strict amateur ethos of Rugby Football on a group of Rugby Clubs in the North of England who were making ‘broken time’ payments to players.

There are varying perspectives on this, but generally male players in the North of England believed they should be compensated if playing Rugby meant they couldn’t fulfil a work shift or got an injury which prevented them from working.

Many of the players at that time were manual workers, and if they didn’t work, they didn’t get paid.

The Clubs in the South of England were against this approach and wanted to remain strictly amateur.

In 1895 a famous meeting took place in the George Hotel in Huddersfield, where a number of Rugby clubs in the North of England voted to start their own Union which would allow Broken Time Payments.

This was the beginning of what are now Rugby League and Rugby Union, with separate governing bodies, distinct rules, players and (in the United Kingdom) seasons.

Originally the different organisations were called the Northern and Southern Union and for the first 10 years of their existence largely played according to the same rules. Over time both Unions started to experiment with rule changes in order to appeal to their respective audiences, hence today the 2 codes look quite different from each other (see the next question).

If you want to know more about the social history of the sport then we suggest have a look at professor Tony Collins Podcasts: www.rugbyreloaded.com

Nowadays both codes are full time professional sports at the elite level.

Q: How different are Rugby League and Rugby Union?

In the 120+ years since they split the sports have diverged significantly from each other. The most obvious difference you will notice is that Rugby League is played with only 13 players in a  team and players restart the game after a tackle by “playing the ball” – a backheel of the ball made by the tackled player to a teammate acting as “dummy half” who then runs or passes the ball to another teammate.

In contrast, Rugby Union is played with 15 players/ team and there are rucks, mauls and lineouts.

The core skills of both sports retain a high degree of commonality. however. Many elite players have successfully switched codes in both directions, while at grassroots level it is not unusual for amateur players to play both types of Rugby.

Q: How do Amateur Players play both? Don't the Seasons clash?

No. In the United Kingdom Rugby Union is a winter sport whereas Rugby League switched to a Summer schedule in 1996. It is therefore possible to play both codes without a clash. So people who like Rugby can play Rugby all year around!!

Q:Who are the Elmbridge Eagles?

The Elmbridge Eagles are a grassroots community Rugby League club based in Surrey and affiliated to the Rugby Football League tracing its origins back to 1978 making it one of the oldest amateur Rugby League clubs in the South of England.

We run Rugby League teams for all abilities, ages and genders starting at U5 up to adult men and women’s teams.

Our Senior Coaching and Management team include people who have played and coached at a professional level of Rugby League, complemented by a team of dedicated volunteers and Rugby League enthusiasts. All of our staff and players work or play for the club on an amateur, voluntary basis, no matter what level of the game or coaching they may have reached in a prior life!

Whatever your experience of Rugby League and whatever your ambitions are in the sport, we invite you to start or continue your journey at Elmbridge Eagles Rugby League Club.

Q: Is Rugby League dangerous?

Rugby League, like Rugby Union and, for that matter Football, is a contact sport. There is a risk of injury in all contact sports, but if players are correctly coached, then this risk can be mitigated.

All Elmbridge Eagles coaches have been trained to a minimum basic standard by the Rugby Football League to ensure player safety. This includes recognition and management of head injuries and coaching correct tackle technique and contact skills. Every game must have a trained first aider on site and most grounds, including our own, have access to an AED.

Young children are introduced to full contact Rugby League in a graduated manner, with a focus on safe body position and technique after they have learned to play non-contact Tag and Touch versions of the game.

Q: Do you stream young Players by ability?

No. All teams and training sessions at Junior and Primary level (U5 – U15) are mixed ability. The emphasis at this level is on having fun, developing skills and getting time on the ball.

In short, if you turn up to a training session or a game, you will be given the opportunity to train and play regardless of how experienced or good at Rugby League you are.

Q: Do you limit contact play for children?

Yes. Very young children start playing completely non-contact versions of the game such as Tag and Touch Rugby League, to ensure they develop basic skills and confidence. Training is specifically designed to engage children of this age, with a focus on teamwork, developing basic body movement, agility, coordination and, most of all, having fun.

Slightly older children (U9s and above) are introduced to full contact Rugby League. Again, this process is graduated. The rules of Rugby League (pitch sizes, absence of scrums, game length etc.) are abridged for young children, to help them to focus on core skills, developing game instincts and fitness with new aspects of the game introduced as players progress up the age grades.

Midweek training sessions for all children are age specific, game and skill related to develop a common understanding of the fundamental techniques and skills of the game.

Q: Do young players at Elmbridge Eagles play competitive games?

Yes. For players U11 and below the Elmbridge Eagles host and attend festivals, where players will play competitive games while Juniors in U12 – U16 age grades will fulfil a competitive league fixture list, resulting in play offs at the end of the year to determine the Grand Final Winners of the different age groups across London.

The rules of these games are modified to agreater or lesser extent depending on the age group playing.

For U11s and below, games are played on a reduced size pitch. If the game is full contact, then generally there will be no contesting of the ball allowed at the tackle (the “no ripping” rule).

U12s and above start to play a game, more similar to senior Rugby League with contested contact, longer matches, kicking in general play and scrums. Matches may be governed by rules for a younger age grade than the one playing by agreement with the referee/ opposition coach if deemed necessary.

The main priority for all Junior and Primary aged teams at the Eagles is to ensure players have fun and progress to playing under full Rugby League rules safely, at a pace matching their skill levels, confidence and abilities.

Q: When and where do you train and play?

We train and host home festivals and games at the Old Cranleighan Sport Club in Thames Ditton, Surrey  on a Saturday mornings.

We also run midweek fitness and basic skills training at the same venue on a Thursday evening.

Away fixtures and festivals also occur on a Saturday. For full details follow this link and check the specific page for your child’s age grade on our website. If you have any questions e-mail us at the contact details in the final answer below.

All regular season festivals not hosted by Elmbridge Eagles are held in the Home Counties of England, within driving distance of our Surrey base.

Q: Can my child do midweek fitness and skills training only?

Ultimately we’d like all our players to progress to competitive Rugby League, but we also want anyone who joins our club to get the most out of their membership of the club. If your child has other commitments at the weekend, they will always be very welcome to join us midweek and there will be no pressure if they cannot be available to play or train on a Saturday morning. All we ask is that you let us know in advance, so we can organise weekend training and teams accordingly.

Q: What equipment does my child need?

Initially we’ll accommodate your child for a taster session or two if they turn up to a training session in normal sports shorts, a sports shirt or a tracksuit and trainers or regulation football or rugby boots.

If you and your child decide to commit and train or play regularly at the Elmbridge Eagles, you will either have or must purchase an Elmbridge Eagles training top, shorts, socks (all available from the club), regulation football or rugby boots and a gumshield if they are in an age group playing full contact Rugby League. You will also have to register as a member of the club with the Rugby Football League (see the next question).

Gum shields are again optional, but as a club we strongly encourage their use. Basic children's gum shields are not expensive and can be purchased online. If your child is playing contact Rugby, they should have one.

Items such as scrum caps are optional and not required.

If your child plays competitive fixtures or at festivals for the club we will supply them with a matchday shirt in the Elmbridge Eagles colours.

If you have any other questions you can e-mail us for more details (see the final answer), or alternatively turn up to a training session and we will advise you on what you need.

Q: Registration with the club – do I have to?

Bluntly, yes for insurance purposes! We will accommodate your child for an initial taster, but if they want to train or play regularly you will have to register them with the club and the Rugby Football League and pay the RFL AND Club membership fees (you will find links to do this on the website, or drop us an e-mail at the address in the final answer). This is not only to ensure that the club has the funds it needs to run teams and maintain a ground, but also to make sure your child is fully insured.

Q: What about things like Safeguarding and DBS checks?

In common with.. pretty much any sports club that caters for children we take this very seriously. All coaches or other adults who work with children in their capacity as an official of Elmbridge Eagles are given relevant training in Safeguarding by the Rugby Football League and the club appoints a nominated officer at its AGM.

In addition to this club volunteers and coaches are required to undergo a DBS check by the Rugby Football League before they are allowed to work with children unaccompanied.

Q: Final Question – thanks for the information, but how do I get in touch?

If there is anything we haven’t addressed in this FAQ, please e-mail the club at admin@elmbridgerl.com and we will reply to you as soon as possible.