USA Football, USA Rugby to partner to advance player development

Partnership to expand collaboration on best practices of education, athlete development and safety

USA Football and USA Rugby today announced a plan to collaborate on the evolution and enhancement of coaching education, sport development and player safety to encourage consistency in how youth sports are taught and played.

This is the first time two sport-based national governing bodies have joined together to improve player safety. USA Football and USA Rugby look forward to additional opportunities with other national governing bodies in their on-going effort to learn and apply best practices from other organizations.

USA Football and USA Rugby, the two sports’ national governing bodies, respectively, and members of the United States Olympic Committee, are responsible to ensure the proper development for young athletes within their respective sport. Both organizations recognize strong similarities in how proper technique is taught in football and rugby, especially at the youth level, along with sharing similar health and safety protocols. In a move to ensure coaches, players and administrators have the best resources at their disposal, the two governing bodies will work together to foster safer player development by jointly advancing the two sports for the betterment of those who play.

As part of the collaboration, USA Rugby and USA Football together will conduct coach and player training for individuals in both the football and rugby communities on areas of overlap: shoulder tackling technique, player development, terminology and health and safety, among other areas.

USA Rugby, along with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), have endorsed USA Football’s Levels of Contact, which defines what a full-contact drill is, and leadership from both organizations will work together to increase the consistency of contact training between sports. USA Football’s Levels of Contact outlines five intensity levels to introduce players to practice drills to master the fundamentals and increase skill development throughout practices to build player confidence, ensure their safety and prevent both physical and mental exhaustion.

“The safety of our athletes and members has always been at the forefront of our approach. We’re pleased that USA Football shares this concern over player welfare,” USA Rugby CEO Dan Payne said. “This partnership between our national governing bodies will elevate discussion, collaboration, implementation and ultimately a safer environment for rugby and football players in America.”

USA Football and USA Rugby will continue to explore collaborative opportunities with other national governing bodies in their on-going effort to learn and apply best practices from other organizations, while opening their resources to new partners.

“The development, health and safety of young athletes is our priority, and USA Rugby shares in that same commitment,” USA Football CEO and Executive Director Scott Hallenbeck said. “This collaboration will allow football and rugby, who share similarities in teaching technique and levels of contact, to uniformly and consistently advance youth sports together.”

About USA Rugby: Established in 1975, USA Rugby is the governing body for the sport of rugby in America and a Full Sport Member of the United States Olympic Committee. Currently headquartered in Lafayette, Colorado, USARugby is charged with developing the game on all levels and has more than 120,000 active members, with more than 40,000 playing collegiate rugby and 35,000 playing senior club rugby. USA Rugby oversees four national teams, multiple collegiate and high school All-American sides, and an emerging Olympic development pathway for elite athletes. It also hosts more than 30 national playoff and championship events each year as a service to its members. In October 2009, the International Olympic Committee announced Rugby Sevens (the seven-a-side version of the game) would appear in the 2016 Olympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro, in which both the men and women qualified. Visit for more information.

About USA Football:  USA Football designs and delivers premier educational, developmental and competitive programs to advance and grow the sport. As the sport’s national governing body, member of the U.S. Olympic Committee and organizer of the U.S. National Team for international competition, USA Football partners with leaders in medicine, child advocacy and athletics to support positive football experiences for youth, high school and other amateur players Facebook or on Twitter.

John McKeon is a former professional and collegiate American Football player and coach now living and working in New York. His goal is to spread news, information, and opinion on the global growth of the sport he loves.