Rugby League


Safeguarding Children

The RFL is committed to safeguarding the welfare of children in the sport of Rugby League. For over a decade we have worked closely with the Child Protection In Sport Unit (CPSU) and NSPCC to develop robust policy and procedures to safeguard children, achieving the NSPCC & CPSU's National Advanced Standards for safeguarding and protecting children in sport in 2008. We work closely with all our clubs and statutory agencies to ensure that safeguarding children is prioritised. Any allegation, suspicion of harm or concern is taken seriously and responded to swiftly, fairly and appropriately.

Everyone shares the responsibility for safeguarding and creating safe environments in rugby league whether as a parent, coach, spectator, or club official. This means that everyone should operate and demonstrate exemplary behaviour to both safeguard children and protect all personnel from allegations of abuse or poor practice.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) defines a child as everyone under 18 unless, "under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier". In England a child is defined as anyone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday.

The RFL Safeguarding Policy

The RFL takes pride in updating its Safeguarding Policy on an annual basis in line with Operational Rules. This year seen a number of small changes which can be found within the policy document. In particular this year we focused on making more of the additional changes as recommended within the main Government guidance Working Together To Safeguard Children 2018. We are one of the first National Governing Bodies to introduce and Escalation Procedure for anyone who is unhappy with the way in which a concern regarding a child is being or has been dealt with. 

The RFL Safeguarding Policy 2024 can be found HERE.

Safer Recruitment

The RFL is committed to providing an environment that is safe, welcoming and friendly for children. 

All Rugby League clubs (or organisations) working with children should have safe recruitment practices for individuals who work (or volunteer) regularly with children.  This safe recruitment includes a Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) disclosure for all carrying out Regulated Activity. However, this only makes up a small part of the process. When recruiting employees or volunteers all reasonable steps must be taken to ensure only suitable people are selected.

Five Stages to Safer Recruitment

  1. Preparation - Plan and prepare for a process to deter unsuitable applicants, Eg: Advert; JD & PS; Application pack/ form; Self disclosure, Safeguarding statement.
  2. Selecting the right people - Access information supplied during application process to shortlist and identify concerns for follow up Eg: Checking applications; Shortlisting; Follow up questions.
  3. Choose wisely - Conduct an effective interview and selection process Eg: Conduct an Interview; Joint decision making.
  4. Check thoroughly – Pre employment checks and risk assessment Eg: Obtain at least 2 References; ID checks; vetting; Self disclosure; record outcome.
  5. Remaining vigilant - Maintain a culture of vigilance and support once individual in post Eg: Effective induction; Training; Supervision; have a safeguarding culture throughout

More information and resources on the above can be obtained by emailing

Safeguarding Adults

The RFL is committed to creating and maintaining a safe and positive environment for everyone to play and enjoy rugby League and to safeguarding the welfare of all adults involved in the game, particularly those deemed to be at risk.

An “ Adult at Risk ” is defined as any person aged 18 years and over who is or may be in need of community care services by reason of mental health issues, learning or physical disability, sensory impairment, age or illness and who is or may be unable to take care of him/herself or unable to protect him/herself against significant harm or serious exploitation.

The RFL Adult at Risk Policy can be found HERE.

Club Welfare Officers

A club welfare officer (CWO) or Match Official Society Welfare Officer (MOSWO) are the person within a sports club or society with primary responsibility for managing and reporting concerns about children and for putting into place procedures to safeguard children in the club/ society.

Club Welfare Officers (CWOs) and Match Officials Society Welfare Officers (MOSWOs) are key to making the Club or Society environment safe and enjoyable for all children and young people. However, Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and all at the Club/ society should do their bit and it is compulsory for every Club or Society to have at least one Welfare Officer in post.

All CWOs or MOSWOs need to:

  • Have a current enhanced DBS through the Rugby Football League
  • Attend the RFL Safeguarding & Protecting Children course (SPC) which is renewable every 3 years
  • Attend the RFL’s Time to Listen course (book through
  • Be registered with the Rugby Football League
  • Know how to report a concern

As a CWO or MOSWO it is important that everyone at the club/society knows who you are and how you can be contacted. You should also sit on the club’s committee.

There are a number of policies and pro forms which you can find in the resources section of the website to help you in your role. In addition the RFL sends a quarterly newsletter and arranges an annual safeguarding conference.

If you require any further information or advise, please contact

Listening Club

Participation is an active process that enables children's and young people’s views and experiences to influence and contribute to appropriate and relevant decision-making. Listening to children contributes significantly to their learning. It also helps them open up more easily to others. In 2017 the RFL launched its ‘Listening Club’ initiative to encourage clubs to not only listen to children but to include them in the decision making and making them feel part of their local club. We are asking clubs to meet with the players at least once a year, before arranging meeting please consider the following:

  • Is there an appropriate mixture of ages
  • Is the room suitable and away from coaches, committee, and other players
  • Do you have permission from parents to take part/photograph taken
  • Do you have paper for recording responses, Post It Notes for players to write down points/ideas
  • Have you printed off the template question sheet or use paper

Begin the session by explaining what you are doing and assuring the group that what they say will be grouped together and their responses will remain confidential. Explain how it will work and how long they will be there (no more than one hour). Stress the importance of their contributions to the improvement of their team and club. Make sure that you give positive replies to the contributions made to encourage the players to speak freely with confidence.

Once you have finished the session please complete the feed back form and send to the RFL Safeguarding Manager Kerry Simmons by emailing