Ethos and Laws

The Golden Oldies Experience begins when you accept that you’re at far greater risk from what you may do to
yourself and have done to you socially than anything which may happen to you on the field.

Golden Oldies Rugby Festivals, owned and managed by Vintage Sport and Leisure Ltd (VSL), are primarily the means of bringing together rugby enthusiasts, 35 years of age and over to share their common interest in rugby and have a great time. There are three main principles on which every Golden Oldies World Rugby Festival is built on:

  1. To provide players from any country an environment in which sportsmanship and camaraderie thrive. The Festivals are founded on Fun, Friendship and Fraternity for those who have retired from serious competitive play, but wish to continue participating in their favourite sport for sheer enjoyment.
  2. To provide an environment for participants to play against others who still prefer to play games more competitively, the opportunity to do so against like-minded teams, but still remaining dedicated to playing in a spirit of goodwill.
  3. To provide opportunities for team members and their spouses or partners to travel, create new friendships and renew old acquaintances.

Together, these provide opportunities to highlight and promote rugby throughout the world, and to create positive reasons for enthusiasts to retain an active interest in rugby. VSL works with and is sanctioned by the governing bodies of each country a World Festival is held, whilst ensuring strong involvement with clubs, rugby development and charities in the host area.

For anyone over 35

Golden Oldies Festivals are open to men and women over 35 years of age from any part of the world. Whether you are part of an established team or you are an individual or group of mates looking to join a Festival – you are all welcome.

2016 sees the introduction of the Premier Grades, which adhere to the full World Rugby Laws and have no Golden Oldies Variations.

The Golden Oldies Festivals are the biggest and best Vets rugby tournaments in the world. Open to all Old Boys rugby teams, Presidents rugby teams, Masters rugby teams, Golden Oldies rugby teams, Vets rugby teams groups of friends who just want to be involved in these special events.

Supporting Team Managers

Golden Oldies is built as much on the dedication of the team managers as any other aspect of the movement. VSL supports team managers with everything from mailing list templates and promotional material to fundraising ideas and team kit supply.
So if the thought of organising your team seems daunting, don’t worry, VSL will be with you every step of the way.


International Golden Oldies Rugby Referees Association (IGORRA):

We are very keen to have as many Referees as possible and becoming members of IGGORA. Please let those members of your team who may be interested know about the Association. We look forward and welcome all those interested in registering for the Forum. Please see this page for more details.

Mixed Gender Rugby: Women Playing in Teams

For Golden Oldies Rugby Festivals managed by Vintage Sport and Leisure Ltd (VSL) the following shall apply for teams wishing to include female player.

  1. Teams will be limited to 3 female players on the field at any one time during a game. Teams can have more than 3 women on their roster but no more than 3 on the field.
  2. Women members of teams will be required to have the same age qualifications as men team members.
  3. Women members of teams will be required to be registered as team members as required by the organisers.
  4. Women members of teams will have the same responsibilities as to their insurance and will be required to sign the usual team waivers.
  5. There is no formal mixed grade and the participation of women under these regulations is totally at the option of the teams concerned. The inclusion of women creates no liability on the organisers, their stakeholders or associates.
  6. Teams will be required to advise that their team will include women players at the point of entry or as soon after as possible. The organisers must be aware of the women inclusions in a team at the time a draw is completed and only those women registered at that time will be allowed to take part in games.
  7. Men only teams playing teams including women are not required to adjust their play and the rules and regulations of Golden Oldies Rugby will apply as usual.
  8. No team is under any obligation to field women players if they are drawn to play teams including women.

Playing Laws

The World Rugby Laws of rugby apply to Golden Oldies, but are modified within each grade with the exception of the Premier Grade. The Golden Oldies Laws embody and reflect the spirit of Golden Oldies Rugby. The aim of the laws and the variations is to provide the best environment in which player enjoyment is maximised and the possibility of injury is minimised. Prior to a match the team captains and the referee will remind all players of the manner in which the game is to be played and the nature of the laws to be applied.

Sportsmanship and camaraderie are imperative in all Golden Oldies matches.

Following discussion with many Golden Oldies teams and loyal supporters, VSL is delighted to introduce new Golden Oldies playing grades, which will first be played at the 2016 Festival. The new team gradings recognise the ability, age, agility and experience of teams and players.

GradeMen's LawsWomen's LawsShorts Laws
1) PremierFull World Rugby LawsFull World Rugby LawsNo Red or Gold Shorts
2) Semi-CompetitiveGolden Oldies LawsGolden Oldies LawsNo Red or Gold Shorts
3) Social AGolden Oldies LawsGolden Oldies Laws
3) Social BGolden Oldies LawsGolden Oldies Laws
3) Social CGolden Oldies Laws (Average Age over 60)No Grade

In addition to choosing a grade, teams will be requested to provide information on their playing standard, experience, playing ethos, spread of the ages within their team and an estimate of the average age of players. This will influence the fixtures a team plays within their grade.

Premier Grades match length – Two 30 minute halves

Non-Premier Grades match length – Three 20 minute periods


Red shorts or Bibs
Not to be tackled to the ground or pushed off their feet.
Must be “claimed and held”.
Must pass to a player not in red or gold shorts.

Gold shorts or Bibs
Not to be tackled or touched.
May run with the ball for up to 15 metres before passing the ball.
Must pass to a player not in red or gold shorts.

Law Variations

All scrums are uncontested, except in the Premier grade where full World Rugby Laws apply.

There are no quick lineouts.
A lineout must consist of 8 players.
There is no lifting permitted except in the Premier grade where full World Rugby Laws apply.

A player may only kick when inside their own team’s 22 metre area except in the Premier grade where full World Rugby Laws apply. 

Tap Kicks
There are to be no quick tap kicks, but players from the offending side must quickly retire 10 metres from the mark.
Except in the Premier grade where full World Rugby Laws apply.

Unlimited substitutions permitted at any time and a player substituted earlier may return to the game at any time.

Tackles, rucks and mauls
No cleaning out.
No vigorous counter rucking or reckless driving into tackles, rucks and mauls.
Except in the Premier grade where full World Rugby Laws apply.

Premier Grade matches must still be played in the true Golden Oldies spirit of safety, enjoyment and camaraderie.