Scottish Rugby announce changes to boys’ Schools and Youth season structure

National club league at under-15, under-16 and under-18 levels to be expanded to two divisions involving 12 teams in total

Boroughmuir and Stirling County both currently compete in the inspiresport Boys National Youth Conference. Image: Steve Langmead
Boroughmuir and Stirling County both currently compete in the inspiresport Boys National Youth Conference. Image: Steve Langmead

AN adapted playing structure for boys’ Schools and Youth Conferences has been announced which will come into use next season [2023-24], which includes an expansion of the National Club Conferences from one to two divisions, involving 12 clubs competing at U15, U16 and U18 levels.

This model will allow for promotion and relegation in the 2024-25 season, with further movement between National and Regional Conferences set to come into effect in the 2025-26 season.

The Borders Town Conference remains unchanged for Duns, Gala, Hawick, Jedburgh, Kelso, Melrose, Peebles and Selkirk, with Club Leagues at U16 and U18 level, and School Fixtures for U13-U15 levels.


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Meanwhile, the National Schools Conference will remain for all age groups, featuring seven schools.

In addition to this, there will now be two Conferences in the West, A and B, comprised of 13 schools in total, and there will be a combined Caledonia/East Conference with nine competing schools. These structures will be played on a home or away basis.

Further to this, a series of Regional Competitions and Play Programmes are to be created for 76 regional clubs and schools to support growth and development of players and their respective environments.

The National Youth and Schools Cup competitions will continue to run independently, but alongside all Conference and League competitions.

All National competitions will conclude in December to allow space after Christmas for Scottish Rugby Performance Pathway Programmes.

Fixture details for the 2023/24 season will be confirmed with clubs and schools later in the Spring.

The structure has been created after a consultation process involving clubs, independent and state schools from the five regions – Glasgow North, Glasgow South, East, Caledonia Midlands and Caledonia North – who were invited to complete a survey and engage in a series of workshops.

The structure for girls’ rugby in Scotland was recently restructured in line with the women’s game and the publication of Scottish Rugby’s Women and Girls Strategy.

“The changes being implemented from next season are really exciting and will create new opportunities to develop and grow the game at our schools and youth club level,” said Gavin Scott, Scottish Rugby’s Director of Rugby Development. “As Scottish Rugby continues to work collaboratively with state schools and clubs in particular to supporting our ever-growing population of young players, it is important we have the right structures in place so that players can access game-time, whilst we continue to also encourage established sides to become stronger and more sustainable.

“The changes to develop U13 and U14 non-competitive programmes will be a game-changer in supporting player-centred and supported playing environments, whilst the changes across the competitive programmes will create an increased and enhanced number of game play opportunities across the boys’ schools and youth game.

“The proposal for the changes in the structure has been shaped by the feedback we received from our schools and clubs, and I’d like to share my thanks to them for engaging with this process and wish everyone the very best for the 2023-24 season.”


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About David Barnes 4012 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

7 Comments

  1. Maybe I have misunderstood this but what is different about the U13/U14 proposal? Today they play uncompetitive fixtures with points awarded for turning up.

    Also, has anyone every understood why U13 and U14 non-competitive fixtures?

    I can see benefit introducing National 1 & 2 leagues with expanded clubs participating at U15/U16/U18 and the promotion/relegation from Regional leagues into this will provide a pathway for clubs.

  2. Apologies if this is immediately obvious, but can boys who play for their school on a Saturday, also play for a club on Sunday? At the moment they can but are restricted to the amount of time.
    I also think the ‘whole club’ basis means there are way too many meaningless / one-sided games because other year groups within the club are strong.

  3. So no competitive club rugby next season for u14s. My sons school doesn’t play rugby so he won’t get any competitive games until August/Sept 2024 and hasn’t played one since November 2022. It’s utter madness. Who arranges all the friendlies for the u13 and u14 age groups next season? Is it left to the clubs and more responsibility for the volunteer members or are the professionals at the SRU going to intervene and support? Who, at regional level is going to accept a friendly with a team removed from the national conference and averaged 60 points per game this season? It’s not developmental for those who are good just now and need to be challenged and developed. If you can’t provide competition you will lose these players to a sport where they have that need fulfilled. I’ve coached for 8 years and have never known a development officer to visit my club at our age group and my sons schools (primary and secondary) have never had a visit so what is the grand plan? Gavin Scott’s words don’t cut it.

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    • The next question is has anyone seen the proposed u13 and u14 club fixtures for next season? Same opposition every week from August through to December. I’m hoping it’s a formatting issue on Excel, if not the SRU have just killed the game at u13 and u14 club level.

  4. Then post Xmas boys registered at school sides (unless like Marr not really a school side but a club side when it suits and a then a school side again at development school of rugby level when it suits) will have no post xmas rugby of quality at all – no regional rugby at all – but ALL club sides will eg West can go for National Youth conf/cup then West Conf/Cup.

    Unless you can dual register and play schools conf before xmas and then regional club competition post.

    My sons school year group have played 8 games this season.

    Which is ridiculous.

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    • Exactly the problem in a nutshell. The Fewer Stronger model means post Xmas is supposedyfor the ‘Development Programme’ but there should be competitive rugby right through to May. Crazy to keep restricting game time for players and it’s not as if the time missed is resulting in any great advances in strength and conditioning either.

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      • Totally agree.
        It’s also pretty clear that the development work done post Xmas is not of the standard that it needs to be.

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