Northumberland RFU County & Merit League Rules

  1. The Northumberland Rugby Union Leagues shall comprise structured competitions involving eligible sides in membership of Northumberland Rugby Union and such other invited sides as may have obtained approval from their constituent body and been accepted by the Northumberland Rugby Football Union Competitions Committee.

    The Merit Table is for teams that may not play regular rugby but can record any matches played in a season.  Merit Table winners will receive a trophy.

  2. The County Leagues hereinafter called the Leagues and Merit Table will be managed by the Northumberland Competitions Committee hereinafter called the committee.

    The Northumberland Management Board have introduced a £30 subscription bond for teams participating in the Aln and Blyth Leagues.

  3. The committee shall have full administrative control over the leagues and merit and shall conduct the business connected therewith. The committee shall also have the following powers:

    – To accept or refuse entries to the leagues and to remove a team from a league;
    – To accept the resignation of any side from the league;
    – To appoint a sub‑committee to deal with emergency matters and league disciplinary matters;
    – To accept sponsorship for the leagues and to name the respective leagues as appropriate;
    – To co‑opt any person to the committee or sub‑committee thereof for any period or particular purpose. Persons so co‑opted shall not have voting rights;

  4. Club Communication

    An annual meeting of the clubs participating in the leagues shall be held at the end of the playing season and take the form of a presentations night.  It has become tradition to present league winners with their trophies on this occasion and representatives from winning teams are invited to attend.

    Depending on circumstances, a club meeting or questionnaire will provide clubs with the opportunity to feedback on the organisation and any issues with the leagues.

    4.1        Results must be submitted within 7 days of the match played. Both teams are required to submit the results for matches played. The Merit Table will adopt the same points scoring system as the Aln league. The Aln and Merit League Tables will appear on the Northumberland County Website

    All matches will be recorded on the GMS system but will be simplified and shown with scores for a win/lose/draw.    The correct league tables showing the various bonus points (try bonus and losing), points for cancelled matches (PFCM), double headers and any front row flexibilities (rule 6.6.2) will be displayed on the NRU website.

  1. Alteration of Rules

    The Committee shall have the power to alter or add to the County League Rules subject to ratification by the Governance Committee.
  2. Rules of the Competitions

    6.1        The Competition shall be played on a home and away basis. Points will be awarded in accordance with a schedule approved from time to time by the Committee.   All questions on the interpretation of the rules shall be referred to the Competitions Committee through the County Administrator.

    6.2        League Structure and Eligibility

    The leagues structure will be based on club junior sides.  Eligibility for entry will initially be determined by the Committee and thereafter by placing in the league table at the end of the season. The team winning each league will be awarded a trophy and other prizes as determined by the committee. Promotion and relegation will take place between the leagues to be decided from time to time by the committee on the basis of league position and performance.

    6.3        Registration of Clubs

    Clubs shall register in writing their intention to play in the leagues as requested prior to the new season.

    6.4        Eligibility of Players

    Eligibility shall be confined to bona fide paid up members of the clubs concerned. The player must be “regularly available” for the team and normally play at the teams’ level.

    All questions on qualification of players shall be referred to the Competitions Committee through the County Administrator

    6.5        Referees and Assistant Referees

    Games shall be refereed by neutral referees appointed by Referee Societies. Each club shall provide a Touch Judge for every game except where Assistant Referees are appointed by the Referee Societies.

    6.6        Playing, Re‑arranging and Cancellation of Games

    6.6.1     Playing

    All games will be played in accordance with the Laws of the Rugby Football Union and the Rules and Regulations of the Rugby Football Union. Games can be played on any day of the week.  If during the game, the referee is unable to continue and the game has not reached 60 minutes of playing time and no suitable replacement found, the game shall be replayed.

    6.6.2     Front Row Shortages

    There is provision within the rules for matches to be played with uncontested scrums from the start

    In the case of one side being short of front row players before the game, then the match should be allowed to be played wholly with uncontested scrums.

    To prevent teams abusing this dispensation, the team lacking one or more props may not qualify for any more than a total of 2 league points for a win.   

    Losing Bonus Points and Try Bonus Points still apply as normal.

    6.6.3     Match Cancellations

    Where the first scheduled game between two teams is cancelled for any reason other than adverse weather, a cup match or an unfit pitch, the league points will be awarded to the non‑offending club unless the Competitions Committee rules otherwise.

    If the cancellation was by the visiting team then the return fixture will be played at the ground of the non‑offending club.

    Points for Cancelled Matches – Please try and re-arrange the match that has been called off, but if you are unable to re-arrange or agree on a double header, you can claim the points for the match.  Points need to be claimed within two weeks of the game being cancelled.

    If you do claim the points for a cancelled match, you cannot invoke rule 6.6.3 (above) – you forfeit the right to switch the return fixture to the home of the non-offending team.

    Once you have set a date to re play a match, you cannot claim the points unless the re-arranged fixture is then also cancelled.

    6.6.4     Shortage of players

    It is within the ethos of the leagues that matches should be played even if sides are short of a full complement of players and that the exchange/loan of players to allow a match to take place is far more preferable than a cancellation.

    6.7        Scoring and Bonus Points

    The scoring system shall be in accordance with the schedule which may be revised by the committee from time to time.

    6.8        Double Header Games

    From time to time, with weather or cup cancellations, the committee will make a decision on clubs playing a “double header”.

    When a game is cancelled for reasons of adverse weather, cup competition or an unfit pitch, the committee encourages clubs to rearrange the game. If this is not possible, any second fixture between the sides may be played for double league points if the clubs agree (Double Header Match).  The League Administrator must be informed as soon as possible of this decision, and before the game takes place, otherwise the fixture will be scored as for one game, not two.

    6.8.1     Once the committee has agreed the double header, the agreement between fixture secretaries and the committee is final.

    6.8.2     Double headers offer the doubling of all points (including bonus points).

    6.8.5     Should the double header game be cancelled, the non-offending side on the day of the fixture will be awarded full points.

  3. Replacements

    In all leagues – a mutually agreed number (rolling substitutions allowed).

  4. Failure to Fulfill Fixtures

    The committee may seek to remove a team from the league if there is a persistent problem. In the event of a team being removed from the league, all points relating to games with that team will be deleted.

  5.  Condition of Ground

    In the event of the ground being rendered unfit by weather, the home side shall notify the visiting side at the earliest reasonable time and arrangements made to play the game at an alternative venue or time. Should the teams arrive at the ground and the two captains fail to agree the fitness of the ground, the referee shall decide the fitness or otherwise.

  6. Complaints, disputes and reviews

    10.1      Complaints and requests for review should, in the first instance, be made by clubs to the Competitions committee via the County Office.

    10.2      The Competitions Committee can, of its own volition, set up a review when information has come to hand which could indicate that there may have been a breach of the rules of a particular competition.

    10.3      All grievances concerning the playing or non‑playing of fixtures and the playing of ineligible players must be notified to the administrator within 48 hours of the game taking place (or not).  A formal request for an investigation into allegations must be submitted within 7 days.

    10.4      In dealing with any of the matters in this regard, no person who is a member of the clubs involved may participate in the investigative process save only to be a witness as and when appropriate.  In the event of a potential conflict of interest, the matter shall be dealt with by an appropriate deputy.

    10.5      Once investigations have been undertaken, the County Administrator will present the facts to the Competitions Committee or a sub group thereof who will consider the matter, and clubs concerned will be informed of the decision at the earliest opportunity.

  7. Right of Appeal

    11.1      If a club does not agree with the decision or wishes to present mitigating circumstances, it may appeal to the Competitions Committee setting out the grounds for the appeal, within 48 hours of the decision being announced.  If a decision is so appealed, the Chairman of the Competitions Committee shall inform the Hon Secretary who will then convene an Appeals Panel.  This may be in writing (or electronically) or if the appellant club so wishes, it shall hear the matter orally in accordance with the established procedures as set out in Appendix A.  The results of any appeal will be produced in writing setting out the reasons for the decision.

    11.2      A club/player always has the further right of appeal to the RFU.

  8.  Administration

    Match results can be submitted via the CANDY, County & Merit League results WhatsApp, be phoned in or e‑mailed, to Claire Sharpe who is the Leagues Administrator  ( by both sides before noon on the Monday following the game or noon the next day if it is played other than a Saturday or Sunday.  (See Rule 4.1)

    The committee reserves the right to penalise persistent offenders for late submission of results.

County Leagues Scoring System



4 points


2 points


1 point

Bonus Point – tries

1 point for every try up to a maximum of five

Bonus Point – losing by 10 points or less

1 point


Notes for Participating Teams




Game On Information can be found here:


Shortage of Players

Please try and honour the fixture.

When teams play short please ensure that you play with equal numbers.  

The opposition are encouraged to lend players to the team that are short. 

As teams may not be playing with a full complement, if both sides agree, the time played can be reduced to two halves of 30 minutes or the size of the pitch may be reduced

Common sense should be used to adapt the game to the number of players available.

“Game on” allows for uncontested lineouts as well as uncontested scrums.

Uncontested Scrums

Matches can still be played with uncontested scrums from the start

There are still league points to be won even if you don’t have a front row.  

Please refer to rule 6.6.2 – don’t cancel the match – play it even if you are short of players.  

Adapt the numbers so if necessary, you are playing 12 v 12, 13 v 13 etc but please make sure there is never more than a one-person advantage if you are playing short – keep the numbers as even a possible.


Please do not submit multiple results from multiple weekends in on one mail as this makes the administration of the leagues very difficult and also masks the true league positions. 

Please send results in as matches are played.

Please do not forget to note the number of tries scored – try bonus points. 

(A number of teams have missed out on these points previously as tries scored were not sent in alongside results.)

Points for Cancelled Matches MUST be claimed within two weeks of the date of the match.  Points for Cancelled Matches will not be awarded if claimed outside of the two week window.

Appendix A

Procedure for hearing oral League and Merit Table Competition appeals, complaints and reviews

  1. The Panel

    The panel shall normally consist of three members including a Chairman.  Wherever possible, it shall include persons who have in depth knowledge of competitions rules and regulations and have an understanding of good legal practice. No person who has previously been involved in the matter and no person with a vested interest in the outcome shall be a member of the panel. They may however participate as an advocate or as a witness.

    A secretary should be appointed to set out the facts and record any findings.

    The proceedings will be carried out in line with the principles and procedures set out in the Rules of the Rugby Football Union (Disciplinary Procedures). Observers may be present subject to the approval of the panel.

  1. Introduction.

    The Chairman shall introduce the panel and appellant club representatives and explain procedure. At this juncture, the chairman must ask if the appellant has any objection to any member of the panel.

  1. Process

    The secretary will set out a statement of the events and facts leading to appeal, including, as appropriate, the original alleged breach(s) of regulations citing the specific regulation(s) together with any other relevant facts and detail.

    Any documentary evidence relating to the matter shall then be presented.

    One club official or appointed advocate shall set out the grounds for appeal.  He may be accompanied by one other member of his club.  On completion of his/her submission, he/she may be questioned by any member of the panel. Witnesses of fact may then give evidence on the club behalf in support of the appeal. Each witness may be cross examined on the evidence by the parties and any member of the panel.

    The club official or appointed advocate shall be invited to sum up.

  1. Deliberation and Findings

    Panel deliberates on the issues in the absence of the club official or appointed advocate, and any observers.

    The findings and judgments of the panel to be delivered. This may be reserved to take advice from the RFU or given orally at the time but must be set out in writing thereafter.

Procedure for hearing written League and Merit Table competition appeals, complaints and reviews

The Panel shall be constituted as set out above and the written evidence and submissions considered.

The Panel having deliberated on the issues shall deliver their findings as in 4 above.

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