Rugby league

Age to start:

Children can begin to play rugby league through New Zealand Rugby League. The program is for boys and girls between 5 and 12 years of age. The children will learn basic skills in a fun and safe environment. The children are split into two age groups – under 5’s to under 9’s (Mini’s) and under 10’s to under 12’s (Mod’s) and both play with modified rules to ensure their safety. A Safeplay code is also applied, which again ensures the game is safe and appropriate for these age groups. The Safeplay code can be found here.

Rules of the game:

The basic rules of rugby league are;

  • A rugby league game is played with two teams of thirteen players on the field at one time, however Mini’s play with two teams of eight and Mod’s play with two teams of 11.
  • The main object of the game is to score a try by grounding the ball in the opponent’s in-goal area. This is worth four points.
  • A player may tackle an opponent who has possession of the ball so as to prevent them from running with the ball. The Safeplay code creates a safe tackle environment with: 1. No lifting in the tackles 2. No tackles to be above armpit height 3. No hitching of legs 4. No shoulder charging

Find the Guide to Mini-Mod rules, the NZRL Rule book and the Safeplay Code here.


Both boys and girls can participate in rugby league. The Mini Mod program introduces children between the ages of 5 to 12 years to rugby league in a fun and safe environment. Children can begin playing competitive rugby league as young as 12 (Under 13’s). Mini- Mod Rugby League is non competition and representative teams are not picked. This is due to the focus being on fun, enjoyment, participation and learning the basics of Rugby League. Due to rugby league being a contact sport, boys and girls cannot play against each other once they are older although NZRL is developing a specific modified version of the game for girls. As rugby league is a contact sport, the risk of injury needs to be taken into account when deciding whether to participate. NZRL have strict guidelines to make the game a safe option which are enforced through our Zones and Districts. .

Sign up dates:

Most local clubs’ sign up periods are in February / March / April. Check with your local club for specific dates and times. Many clubs continue to accept new children signing up throughout the year. It is suggested you check with your local club about possible registration even if the initial deadline has passed.

Sporting tips:

To successfully participate in Mini-Mod rugby league you should;

  • Love playing with your mates / friends
  • Be willing to learn in a fun environment

If you want to go on to be a successful player at higher levels you should:

  • Be physically fit
  • Possess good ball skills, in particular catching and passing
  • Possess good vision
  • Be able to operate within a team environment
  • Be able to play outdoors in sometimes inclement weather conditions

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