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.
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.”