J7/J8 Rippa Rugby is for boys and girls aged 5 - 7 which allows them to learn the basics of the game of rugby.
Girls and Boys U9 - U17 Rippa and Rip Rugby now continues through to high school adding more rules and skills to the game for those that don't want to, or cannot, play tackle rugby.
What happens when they are too old/big for J7/J8 Rippa Rugby?
Since 2020 all players now have two choices - transition to mixed tackle rugby on an age and weight basis or continue to play Rip Rugby.
Wait - the Girls play with the Boys in Rippa?
Yes, up until the age of 7! In fact many of the girls playing Rippa are faster and pick the game up quicker than the boys at this age!
How young is too young?
Players must be turning 5 years old by the 30th of June to play Rippa Rugby. The general rule of thumb is that children also need to be able to follow instructions before they should be let loose on the rugby field. This is in the best interest of their own enjoyment and their coach's sanity!
How many players play?
All Rip Rugby is played with 7-a-side with 2 - 5 reserves depending on team size.
How do subs work?
J7/J8 Rippa runs a rolling substitution rule. All children are expected to have at least half a game of playing time.
U9 and up Rip Rugby generally sub at 1/4 time, again all children are expected to play a half-a-game although this won't always be continuous.
Are the children out there by themselves? It must be chaos!
For the J7/J8 - no they aren't and yes it is! One coach from each team run with the children and try to organise an co-ordinate play. It's hard work in the early days, but the players generally get it figured out by half-way through their first season.
In U9 and up the players understand the game well enough that the coaches stay on the sideline - where they belong!
Is there any contact?
Rip Rugby is a non-contact form of rugby similar to Touch, but with players pulling a rip instead of just touching the player. Mouthguards are mandatory. Fending and jersey grabbing is illegal in all grades of Rip Rugby.
Do I need any special gear?
All players need to play in rugby/football boots. They also need to wear a mouthguard - no mouthguard no play. A mouthguard is provided at registration. Club socks are provided for you to keep as part of your registration fee and shorts are available for purchase through the club. Jerseys, belts and rips are provided on game days.
Can I go straight to Tackle?
Once a player is 6 years old as at 1 January of that year they can start playing Tackle in J6. Players don't need to start in Rip Rugby, but they can't play tackle in the North Harbour Union until they are 6.
Why play Rippa if there's no tackling?
The goal of Rip Rugby is to teach excellent ball-handling and running skills. It allows for players to develop fundamental skills and learn the basic concepts of Rugby. It's a great way to start your child's love affair with Rugby before they get to start hitting tackle bags at age 6+!
For those that continue with Rip Rugby the game has been evolving with set piece and kicking brought in at the U11 level. It's incredibly fast paced with 20+ tries in a game not being uncommon!
How is Rip Rugby played?
J7/J8 - Rippa is played on a 1/4 field (10m to goal line and goal post to sideline) with the 10 meter and goal-line acting as try-lines. Players wear a velcro belt with a tags (the "Rips") on each hip. The play is a hybrid of Rugby and Touch Rugby/League with the attacking team having 6 rips to score a try. Once ripped the attacking player needs to pass to a team-mate to keep play going. If the defending team get 6 rips the ball is handed over.
If the attacking team score the defending team receive the ball restarting with a pass, or kick in later grades, from half-way.
If the attacking team run out of bounds or knock the ball on it's a turnover. U9/U11/U13/U15 - These grades play to different rules which increase the field size and decrease the number of rips as players get older and the game speeds up. Rip Rugby now incorporates kicking in general play and elements of set piece and is a very fast paced, high-scoring format of rugby full of running, ball handling and skill! For more the the rules refer to the 2022 North Harbour Junior Rugby Rules
Do I need to stop when I've been ripped?
The goal of Rip Rugby is to get the children playing fast - which means they should be looking to pass as soon as they are ripped, within 3 strides of the rip being pulled. This is harder than it sounds, and J8 games tend to be stop/start affairs for the first few weeks as the children get this figured out.
What about offsides?
Just like in rugby there are offsides. It's the attacking team's responsibility to make space to attack with the offside line being the place of the rip. Unlike League and Touch there is no need for the defending team to retreat behind the point of the rip.
How strict are the rules?
We want the children to learn the rules of the game quickly and the only way to do this is to enforce the rules. This is a short term pain/long term gain trade-off with players working our what they can and can't do pretty quickly!
Do you keep score?
Yes, and no. The goal of Rip Rugby isn't to win every game and the players shouldn't be worried about the score. It's about developing a love of the game, foundational skills and an understanding of the game of rugby which will make their competitive years much more enjoyable.
The club does ask managers to submit game scores to allow us to monitor how teams are performing relative to each other and identify opportunities for coaching assistance throughout the year.
It's an old cliche, but Rip Rugby is about players having fun without scoreboard pressure and Rugby should ALWAYS be the winner on the day!