1.      Introductory Matters

  • The Tournament Competition Committee (TCC) will be made up of five people. Two from the Union Cup Organising Committee (UCOC) and three from International Gay Rugby (IGR). The IGR Tournament Liaison Committee (TLC) will choose the IGR representatives.
  • Any three members of the TCC, with a minimum of one representative from the UCOC, can make a ruling on the Tournament Rules.
  • All reasonable efforts need to be made to include the full TCC on any ruling regarding tournament structure, loss of competition points or match forfeiture.
  • Any matters not addressed in these rules are governed by the laws and regulations of World Rugby or RFU, or will otherwise be dealt with by the TCC and the Judiciary which shall consist of the TCC and a single Judicial Officer appointed by the UCOC. are responsible for these rules.
  • The UCOC will appoint a Tournament Director.
  • Interpretation of these rules is the responsibility of the TCC.
  • Captains Meeting and Team Designate
    • A Captains Meeting will be held prior to the first day of competition.
    • At that time the captain may designate a member of his team to represent the team to the organisers.
    • The team designate will be responsible for liaising between the team and the organizers.
    • Team members other than the team captain or his designate may not represent the team with the organisers. 

2.      Player Rosters and Eligibility

2.1      Eligibility

  • IGR believes that the best interests of the Union Cup and the development of IGR member clubs are achieved by having the tournament contested by players who are committed and integrated members of their registered clubs. Thus, IGR requires that players meet the requirements of these rules as to their support for IGR’s mission, their standing, and their affiliation to their registered clubs.
  • A player must support IGR’s mission and the mission of their registered club.
  • To avoid any doubt, a player may have any sexual orientation; in other words, IGR does not restrict participation based on a player’s sexual orientation, whether gay, straight, bisexual or otherwise.
  • A player must be in good standing with the national union of their registered club. An unaffiliated player or player registered with the Worldwide Barbarians or similar sides must be in good standing with their home national union. If a player is subject to any sanction from their home union (either their home national union or home regional/provincial union) that prohibits them from playing matches, the player is similarly prohibited from playing matches in the Union Cup.
  • Clubs can apply to amalgamate players to form one team, subject to approval prior to the tournament. All players must have a demonstrable affiliation with one of the clubs amalgamating.
  • All teams participating in the men’s rugby competition must hold membership of IGR, all teams participating in the top (Union Cup) tier must hold voting membership  of IGR.  
  • Teams participating in the women’s rugby competition do not need to hold IGR membership, but must support for the aims and values of IGR.
  • All teams participating must be based in the IGR Europe Regions.
  • While IGR and the UCOC disagree strongly with the policy, Union Cup is bound by the current policy on Gender Participation of the RFU.  Further guidance has been requested on the need for risk assessments under this policy.  As soon as UCOC and IGR have this, further guidance will be issued.  

2.2      Demonstrable Affiliation

A player must have a demonstrable affiliation with the club they are playing with. Demonstrable affiliation can be shown:

  • By having played the following number of matches with their club in the past 2 years:
    • Union Cup tier – 3 matches
    • All other tiers – 1 match
  • Based on the circumstances of their relationship with their club
    • Clubs wishing to field payers who do not meet the requirement noted above (rule 2.2(a)) must make applications for approval by 31/03/2023 via email to TLC@unioncuprugby.com
  • A player registered with a composite team consisting of players from two or more clubs, other than the Worldwide Barbarians, must still demonstrate their affiliation to their home club.

2.3      Documentation and Proof

  • A player must provide, on request, government-issued photo identification, such as a passport or driverslicence.
  • Clubs are required to submit the following team rosters to the UCOC (see Appendix 2 for sample teamroster format):
    • preliminary team rosters by 16/03/2023
    • final team rosters by 16/04/2023 (Final Team Roster)

Changes to team rosters between 16/04/23 and the Captains Meeting will only be allowed in extraordinary circumstances (eg injury, changing personal circumstances, team amalgamation).

  • The team rosters must confirm all players’ standing with their home union by providing confirmation of their registration and standing with their home union.
  • The team roster must declare the basis of all players’ affiliation to their registered club as follows:
    • a player who has played at least 5 matches for their registered club in the current or previousseason may merely declare they have done so;
    • a player who has played fewer than 5 matches for their registered club must provide details of the qualifying matches on which their demonstrable affiliation is based;
    • a player who relies solely on other circumstances to demonstrate their affiliation must have sought approval from the TLC prior to submission of the team rosters.

2.4      Rulings on Eligibility

  • Once the tournament has commenced the TCC has sole responsibility for determining a player’s eligibility.
  • Prior to the tournament a club may make a written request to the TLC for the review of the eligibility of one of its players it proposes to include in its tournament roster.
  • The TLC has the responsibility for determining a player eligibility and must consider the following matters:
    • the eligibility of any player who relies on circumstances other than prescribed qualifying matches to demonstrate their affiliation under rule 2.2(a) above;
    • on request of their registered club, the eligibility of any other player.
  • The TCC or TLC must rule on these matters before the first match of the tournament commences. If the TCC or TLC fails to do so, the players concerned are deemed to be eligible to play for their registered club.
  • Once the tournament commences, the TCC must rule on any challenges to any player’s eligibility under rule 2.6.

2.5      Player Allocations and Transfers

  • A player may not play for more than one team during the tournament, subject to the exceptions herein.
  • Under no circumstances shall a team have more than 25 players available to it over the course of the tournament (ie, a team starting with a 25 player roster will be ineligible to receive any additional player, a team starting with a 24 player roster will only be eligible to receive one additional player, etc). Teams may request additional players if they require front row players following injury to their original squad. Clubs who have multiple teams will be expected to request their own players unless there are extenuating circumstances. All such requests must be made to the TCC.
  • Unless expressly allowed by the TCC, once a player has been assigned to a team and / or submitted on a team final roster at the Captains Meeting he may play only for that team until it is eliminated from competition. 
  • Prior to tournament, players registered with one club who wish to play for another club must check in prior to play with the TCC and will be assigned to teams in need of and who have requested players. After tournament play begins, a player whose team has been eliminated from competition may check in with the TCC and request assignment to a team in need of and who has requested players.
  • A player for a club entering more than one side in the tournament may only play for the team for which they are registered, or for which they first play. That is, as an example, once they have played and / or registered for their club’s first XV, they may not play for their club’s second XV.
  • Should it be needed due to injuries or player welfare a club may request additional players from a team within the same tier or below.  The TCC must be informed of this, and they may choose to cap the number of players transferred. 
  • Requests for exceptions to the rules of this section due to extenuating circumstances may be made to the TCC.
  • No player may transfer teams except in compliance with these rules. Any team found fielding a player not properly assigned to that team will be subject to the sanctions in rule 2.7.
  • All allocations of additional players will be based on the availability of unaffiliated players, team needs (including the team’s number of available front row players), the level of competition and player’s skill level, and IGR policy. Player requests for team assignments may be considered but will not bind the TCC. All decisions of the TCC regarding player allocation and assignment will be in the TCC’s sole and absolute discretion and not subject to review.

2.6      Challenges to Eligibility

  • A challenge to a player’s eligibility must be made in the following way:
    • A challenge may only be made by:
  • IGR member clubs or other clubs authorised to compete in the tournament;
  • IGR trustees or regional representatives;
  • any other people authorised by IGR to lodge challenges.
    • A challenge must:
  • be in writing (handwritten note, email, electronic message or similar);
  • be delivered to a member of the TCC, Tournament Director or other person authorised by IGR to receive challenges in accordance with any notified arrangements for the lodging of challenges;
  • set out the basis of the challenge;
  • for challenges made by clubs, confirm the challenge is authorised to be made on behalf the club;
  • be made in good faith.
    • A challenge should be timely and, to the extent possible, should be made before the tournament or relevant matches.
    • In any event, a challenge about the eligibility of a player to play in a particular match cannot be made after one hour from the completion of the final match played on that day of the tournament; any such challenge is invalid.
  • The TCC must allow the opportunities to address the complaint as follows:
    • The player and registered club must be given a reasonable opportunity to address the player’s eligibility.
    • The player and registered club may be required to provide specific evidence about a player’s eligibility.
    • The person making the challenge has no right to comment, other by way of the original written challenge.
    • Any comment and evidence must be received within the following timeframes (or such other period as the TCC allows):
  • for pre-tournament challenges, 24 hours;
  • for challenges during the tournament, one hour.
  • If comment or evidence is not received within these timeframes, the TCC may rule on a player’s eligibility in the absence of such comment or evidence.
  • The TCC must rule on any challenge as soon as practicable.
  • If a challenge has not been determined by the following timeframes, the player may compete in the tournament without any sanction until the TCC determines the challenge:
    • for pre-tournament challenges, when the first match of the tournament commences;
    • for challenges during the tournament, within one hour of the provision of comment and evidence by the player or registered club.
  • The TCC must give written notice (handwritten note, email, electronic message or similar) of its ruling.
  • Any ruling, including any sanctions, is final and binding and there is no right of appeal or review.

2.7      Sanctions for Breaching Eligibility Rules

  • The TCC has sole responsibility for determining any sanctions for breaches of eligibility rules.
  • If a player is ruled ineligible, the TCC may, at its discretion, apply any of the following sanctions to the player or the registered club they played for:
    • For the player:
  • banned from playing for the registered club during the tournament (they may be assigned by the TCC to other clubs);
  • disqualification from the tournament.
    • For the registered club:
  • deduction of 1 competition point for every match the ineligible player has played for the club;
  • forfeiture of matches involving the ineligible player;
  • in the event of tied standings or matches, fielding an ineligible player may be used to determine the registered club’s rankings (in accordance with rule 4(b)(1)).
  • To avoid doubt, sanctions may be applied to the player and/or registered club.

3.      Match Structure and Considerations

  • Timing
    • Matches will consist of two 20 minute halves with a 5 minute half time.
    • The tournament final match in each division will consist of two 30 minute halves with a five minute half time.
    • Injury time will only be played in knock out games.
  • All matches will kick off on time.
  • Any team unprepared to play or not present when a match is due to kick off will be given a 5 minute grace period. If a team is still unprepared to play or is not present at the end of that 5 minute period the missing team will forfeit the match. A match forfeited by one team will result in a score of 28 – 0 (4 converted tries) being awarded to the team present and ready to play. If both teams are unprepared to play or not present at kick off time, both teams will forfeit the match. A double forfeit will result in a score of 0 for both teams.
  • Exceptions for extenuating circumstances may be granted by the TCC.

4.      Scoring and Tournament Structure

  • Match points in pool play will be awarded as follows:
  • Win                                               =          4
  • Tie                                                 =          2
  • Scoring 4 tries or more                 =          1 bonus point
  • Loss by 7 points or less               =          1 bonus point
  • Loss/Forfeit                                   =          0
  • If, at the completion of the pool phase, two or more teams are level on match points, then the following criteria shall be used in the following order until one of the teams can be determined as the higher ranked:
    • If a team has fielded an ineligible player during the tournament, the other team shall be the higher ranked;
    • The winner of the match in which the two tied teams played each other (if they were in the same pool) shall be the higher ranked;
    • The team which has the greatest difference between points scored for and points scored against in pool matches shall be the higher ranked;
    • The team which has the greatest difference between tries scored for and tries scored against in pool matches shall be the higher ranked;
    • The team which has scored the most points in pool matches shall be the higher ranked;
    • The team which has scored most tries in pool matches shall be the higher ranked;
    • The team which wins a coin-toss shall be the higher ranked. 
  • If at the completion of any semi-finals and any other knock-out game, the two teams are on level scores:
    • If at the end of regular time, the teams are tied, there will be up to two 5 minute periods of sudden death, separated by a 2 minute break. The first team to score wins, ending the game.
    • If a Team has fielded an ineligible player during the tournament, the other Team shall be declared the winner;
    • The Team which has the best difference between points-scored-for and points-scored-against in all its matches shall be declared the winner;
    • The Team which has the best difference between tries-scored-for and tries-scored-against in all its matches shall be declared the winner;
    • The Team which has scored the most points in all its matches shall be declared the winner;
    • The Team which has scored most tries in all its matches shall be declared the winner;
    • The Team which wins a coin-toss shall be declared the winner.
  • If at the completion of any Division finals (Cup, Plate, Bowl, Shield), the two teams are on level scores:
    • There will be two 5 minute periods of regular time each way, separated by a 2 minute break.
    • If at the end of regular time, the teams are tied, there will be up to two 5 minute periods of sudden death, separated by a 2-minute break. The first team to score wins, ending the game. 
    • If the teams are still tied at the end of sudden death, a tie will be declared and the division title shared.

5.      Player Numbers

  • A team must have no less than 12 players on the pitch at the commencement the match. Teams may request the TCC assign draft players prior to the match to replace injured players, but in no instance may a team roster exceed 25 total players over the course of the entire tournament, except as detailed in section two.
  • If a team is unable to field 12 players before the kick off of a match, they will forfeit the match.
  • Requests for exceptions to the rules of this section due to extenuating circumstances may be made to the TCC.

6.      Scrum Safety

  • On the Final Team Roster (see 2.3) teams must identify the players within their squad who are “suitably trained and experienced” players to play in the front row.
  • Law 3.8 of the World Rugby Laws of the Game requires the following number of “suitably trained and experienced” front row players at the commencement of every match:
  • 15 or less = 3 front row players
  • 16-18 = 4 front row players
  • 19 or more = 5 front row players
  • If a team at the commencement of the tournament is unable to satisfy Rule 6(b) and cannot contest scrums, they must make this clear in their team sheet submission and note that they may be requested in any match to compete with 14 players. 

The team in a match who is able to contest the scrum may request the other team to play with 14 players for the duration of the game. Teams will be required to declare at the beginning of the tournament if they will apply the penalty which will apply throughout the duration of the tournament. 

The penalty requiring a club to play with 14 players will only be applicable in matches where the team able to contest scrums from the start of the tournament can field their own front row at the start of the match, as marked on their original team roster.

  • The TCC may exempt a team from Rule 6(b) or, if available, allocate the team a “suitably trained and experienced” front row draft player(s) prior to the start of the tournament.
  • If at the commencement of a game or during a match, due to sending off or injury, a team cannot provide enough suitably trained and experienced front row players, the team or referee is required to request uncontested scrums. The team concerned shall not be entitled to replace the player whose departure caused the uncontested scrum. A team may request the TCC to allocate the team a suitably trained and experienced front row draft player(s).
  • The referee may, in his/her sole discretion, instruct the teams to play the game with uncontested scrums.

7.      Substitutions

  • A team may make up to 8 substitutes per match.
  • Substitutions may only be made after a dead ball has occurred.
  • If a player is substituted, that player must not return and play in that match, unless to replace an injured player.
  • The replacement of a front row forward must come from suitably trained and experienced players who started the match or from the nominated replacements.
  • Temporary Substitutions:
    • When a player leaves the field to have bleeding controlled and/or have an open wound covered, that player may be temporarily replaced. If the player who has been temporarily replaced does not return to the field of play within 15 minutes (actual time) of leaving the playing area, the replacement becomes permanent and the replaced player must not return to the field of play.
    • A player may be permanently replaced if injured. If the player is permanently replaced, that player must not return and play in that match.
    • The referee may determine, with or without the advice of a doctor or other medically qualified person, that a player is so injured that the player should stop playing and must leave the field of play. The referee may also order an injured player to leave the field in order to be medically examined. In this event, the player’s team may send in a temporary or permanent substitute as allowed by these rules.
    • If a temporary replacement is injured, that player may also be replaced.
    • RFU Headcase guidance must be followed in the event of suspected concussion or other head injury
  • A player sent off for foul play must not be replaced or substituted.
  • If the temporary replacement is sent off for foul play, the replaced player may not return to the field of play.
  • If the temporary replacement is cautioned and temporarily suspended, the replaced player may not return to the field of play until after the period of suspension.

8.      Home Team Designation

  • All scheduled matches will have a “home team” designated prior to play.
  • The team that travelled the least distance will be designated the “home team.”
  • Jersey conflict
    • Each side shall provide to the Tournament Director with a description of their respective jersey colours prior to the Captains Meeting.
    • A team that possesses a second set of jerseys will be requested to use them.
    • If no team has a second set of jerseys, the designated “away team” will be required to secure a different set of jerseys or otherwise correct the clash.

9.      Officiating

  • A Head Referee will be appointed by the UCOC.
  • The Head Referee and Tournament Director, on behalf of the UCOC, will oversee scheduling and approving the referees for the tournament.
  • The tournament will be governed by the World Rugby Laws of Rugby as interpreted by the Head Referee, Rugby Football Union and the individual referees. A copy of the laws is available at laws.worldrugby.org. 
  • Touch judges for all matches will be provided by the UCOC where available.  Otherwise substitutes or others may be asked to fulfil this role.

10.    Judiciary Protocols

  • World Rugby Regulations

The disciplinary procedures as set out in World Rugby Regulation 17 for Foul Play and Regulation 20 for Misconduct shall constitute the disciplinary rules for the Tournament, subject to the following additional/alternative procedures.

  • Judiciary

The Judiciary shall have the power to determine all issues of any nature arising in connection with:

  • Participant/s ordered off the playing enclosure;
    • Participant/s cited for an act or acts of Foul Play; and/or
    • Act or acts of Misconduct that may have been committed by a Participant, Team Official or other person/s during the Tournament.
  • Referrals to the Judiciary

Any Club may refer an incident of Foul Play or Misconduct to the Judicial Officer or Tournament Director for consideration, provided that such incident is referred to the Judiciary or Tournament Director within 2 hours of the conclusion of the match in which the incident is alleged to have occurred (in the case of Foul Play) or as soon as reasonably practicable (in the case of Misconduct).

All such referrals should take the form available in Appendix 1.

  • Judiciary Procedure
    • The Judiciary shall have full discretion as to its procedures and as to what evidence they may require.
    • In the event of receiving a report indicating Foul Play and/or a Misconduct at the Tournament to Tournament Director, such a matter will be referred to the Judiciary.
    • The Tournament Director and/or Judiciary shall notify parties concerned of the time and place at which the meeting shall take place.
    • A participant, team (no more than two representatives) or party involved in the dispute has the right to appear before the Judiciary to state their case.
    • The Judiciary will consider the matter in a manner to be determined by the Judiciary in its sole discretion, and all parties concerned will be informed of the decision.
    • In the event of receiving a report indicating Foul Play and/or a Misconduct on the final day of the Tournament, such a matter will be referred to the respective Participating Union to be dealt with in accordance to disciplinary procedures as set out in World Rugby Regulation 17 for Foul Play and Regulation 20 for Misconduct.

11.    Player Penalties

  • If a player is yellow-carded they will receive a sin-bin penalty of:
    • 5 minutes in games with 20 minute halves; and
    • 7 minutes in games with playing halves of more than 20 minutes.
  • The player will stand behind his team’s in-goal area. Sin-bin time will continue into overtime.
  • If a player receives a second yellow card in one game that player will be sent off the field pending disciplinary review and his team will play short for the duration of the match unless the second yellow card is given on the basis of a team foul. The Judiciary will review the action and determine sanctions, taking advice from the match officials involved. Sanctions may include, but are not limited to, a one game penalty or disqualification from the tournament. In determining any sanction the Judiciary may have regard to whether either yellow card was given on the basis of a team foul.
  • If a player receives a red card, the player is suspended from play for the remainder of that days play as a minimum. At the end of that day the Judiciary will review the action and determine any additional sanctions, taking advice from the match officials involved. Penalties may include, but are not limited to, suspension from the remainder of the tournament.

Appendix 1 – Team Referral to Tournament Director or Judiciary

Name of club making the referral 
Team manager / representative name:
Match:
Date of Incident:Pitch:
Name of club of alleged ‘offending’ player:
Name of alleged ‘offending’ player:
Playing position of player: Number:Team:
Incident:
Describe what occurred (include time of incident):
 
 
 
 
Name of alleged victim player/s:
Injuries sustained (if any):
 
Names of any witnesses:
 
 
 
Detected by Match Officials? If so, what action taken:
 
 
 
Any other information i.e. evidence to be provided:
 
 


TEAM MANAGER / REPRESENTATIVE (SIGNATURE): 
___________________________________

DATE: _________________________                           TIME: ______________________________

Referrals must be made within 1 hour of the completion of the match.

This form must be handed to the Tournament Director.

A separate form must be completed for each separate incident.