Rugby First Aid Courses: Everything you Need to Know

CPR training

Navigating the world of sports first aid compliance isn’t always straightforward. You need to consider who should be trained, how you will provide the training, which course is compliant with your national governing body’s (NGB) requirements—and how to keep all of this up to date.

This is not to mention other training you may need to provide to keep rugby juniors safe and to stay within the remit of the HSE Health and Safety at Work Regulations.

First aid is critical in rugby as players are at an increased risk of injury due to intentional collisions. Read our guide to find out exactly which rugby first aid course you need to provide.

Who needs to be qualified in first aid for rugby?

Not everyone on your team will need rugby first aid training. But you will need to make a plan as to who is trained. Your risk assessment will usually determine this.

Let’s take a look at who needs to be qualified in first aid for Rugby Union and Rugby League.

Rugby Union

England Rugby, the NGB for Rugby Union, specifies that every club should have a specially appointed emergency first aider (EFA). This person is accountable for the provision and delivery of first aid to team members. It is the responsibility of the EFA to undertake first aid training, be knowledgeable about the first aid kit, and carry out any emergency first aid required.

There may not be just one EFA appointed to a rugby team. Your risk assessment should tell you how many EFAs you need.

England Rugby advises that clubs and rugby activity providers should ensure that every EFA is appropriately qualified in an approved England Rugby first aid course and that this qualification is kept up to date. Clubs and providers should also allow the EFAs to share concerns or discuss the desire for further training or provisions.

The EFA should be trained to:

  • Take charge the moment someone is ill or injured by providing first aid, calling an ambulance, and directing others around the casualty in the casualty’s best interests (e.g. asking other team players to keep back or searching for a defibrillator).
  • Keep providing first aid until professional emergency responders arrive if needed.
  • Maintain and oversee the first aid kit, ensuring it is in good condition, fully stocked, and items are in date.

Read the England Rugby Pitchside First Aid and Immediate Care Provision Guidelines for more details.

Rugby League

As to who is trained in first aid, Rugby League advises that is it the responsibility of the “The Club (or other body) who runs clubs or organise matches which, in practice, usually means the Management Committee”. This starts with a risk assessment.

The risk assessment will enable the club to draw up a First Aid Emergency Action Plan (EAP). A template for the plan can be found in this document. Part of the EAP will include ensuring appointed first aiders have “relevant qualifications and a system to record these qualifications, keep track of expiry dates, and ensure that refresher training is undertaken”. The club must then determine who will take responsibility for the EAP and its implementation. This is usually the appointed first aider.

In Rugby League, the number of first aiders in the EAP team and the type of training they receive is dependent on the EAP of that particular club. The history and risk of injury, number of players, and environment will determine this. The EAP team should be trained in an appropriate first aid course, and this qualification should be kept up to date.

While each EAP will be different, Rugby League recommends each club should have:

  • A  First Aid Emergency Action Person or a team if necessary (see below for appropriate qualifications).
  • At least one  First Aider in the club (see below for appropriate qualifications).
  • At least one First Aid Emergency Action Person on duty at all times during game play.
  • A first aider responsible for mental health.

Rugby League’s First Aid Standards official document details all first aid requirements, including the difference between the First Aid Emergency Action Person and First Aider.

Recommended Rugby First Aid Courses

As a collision sport, rugby is often more dangerous than other sports, so seeking out the proper training is essential. See below for the recommendations of rugby’s national governing bodies.

Rugby first aid on pitch

Rugby Union First Aid Courses

The EFARU (Emergency First Aid in Rugby Union) course is the officially recommended first aid course for Rugby Union according to England Rugby, as this outlines all specific first aid needs for the sport. Clubs and providers should also ensure EFAs complete the HEADCASE concussion awareness module and that this is kept up to date.

These courses are both led by Rugbysafe, the RFU’s dedicated rugby player safety and wellbeing scheme.

But the EFARU isn’t the only rugby pitchside first aid course EFAs can take. England Rugby also accepts the following courses as giving sufficient training for rugby first aid:

Clubs that work with employees, such as facility providers, fall under the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 and must ensure they comply with any HSE requirements. Requirements will likely differ depending on your risk assessment.

If working with juniors, clubs and providers are also responsible for the EFA’s completion of a DBS check.

First aid course

Rugby League First Aid Courses

The NGB requires that each appointed first aid provider hold a first aid certificate from a recognised awarding body. Different awarding bodies are recommended for first aid in rugby courses appropriate for First Aid Emergency Action Person and First Aiders.

First Aid Emergency Action Person

FA/RFL Emergency First Aid courses are generally the preferable options as they are highly tailored to rugby and run on a regular schedule. Other accepted courses are:

First Aider

The Basic First Aid for Sport (BFAS) is the number one recommended course for first aiders in Rugby League. Being run by the FA, it has highly tailored course content. Other accepted first aid courses are:

Any clubs that employ staff will need to refer to the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 to comply with HSE requirements. As with Rugby Union, any first aiders working with minors in junior rugby will need to pass a DBS check.

Are you interested in getting ahead and learning how to treat common rugby injuries? Read our articles How to Treat Common Rugby Injuries and Treatment and Prevention of Cauliflower Ear.

Read our blog post, First Aid Courses for Sport, if you want to know about more official recommended sports first aid courses. We cover first aid training for all common sports.

Rugby First Aid Kits

Your appointed first aider will need a rugby first aid kit no matter which first aid course you decide on. We cover everything you need in a rugby first aid kit in our guide Rugby First Aid Kits: Complete Guidance for Rugby Union and Rugby League.

Find out about each of the essential rugby first aid items and what they are used for in our article The Definitive Rugby First Aid Kit Contents List.

To take the hassle out of making up your own rugby first aid kit, we partnered with sports teams, leagues, and sports injury specialists to create a rugby first aid kit that meets the requirements of both national governing bodies. Take a look at our Sterosport Sports First Aid Kit, the more extensive Sterosport Sports Medical Kit for physios and medics, and the Junior Sports Team Kit.

Continued Professional Development

Whether you play Rugby Union or Rugby League, first aid training is not a one-time qualification. All first aid courses require regular refreshment, which is a requirement of all sports NGBs. First aid courses need to be refreshed because:

  • Naturally, training and knowledge depletes over time and must be repeated to stay fresh in your appointed first aider’s mind.
  • First aid procedures and applications change over time. Recurring training enables your first aider to keep up to date with best practices.
  • The requirements of NGBs evolve over time, and your first aider will need to be compliant with their regulations at all times.

As a rugby coach, club owner, or provider, you can stay updated with sports injury prevention and management through the Injury Rehab Network (IRN). The IRN is an organised network of sports injury specialists who collaborate to share knowledge and training in cutting edge sports injury rehabilitation.

The network comprises industry professionals as well as students and amateurs interesting in keeping sports players and athletes safe. Being involved in the IRN is a great way to ensure your rugby team has the very best first aid protection.



First Aid Training Checklist for Rugby Union:

☐ Is there an appointed EFA (or several, depending on your risk assessment)?

☐ Has the EFA completed an England Rugby approved first aid course and received a certificate?

☐ Has the EFA completed the HEADCASE concussion awareness course?

☐ If required, have you undertaken any training as required by Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981?

☐ If required, has the EFA completed and passed a DBS check?

☐ Are you aware of when the EFAs qualifications need to be renewed?

☐ Does the EFA have access to an appropriate rugby first aid kit?

☐ Is the EFA familiar with the first aid room?

First Aid Training Checklist for Rugby League:

☐ Is there an appointed First Aid Emergency Action Person or team?

☐ Is there an appointed First Aider?

☐ Is there an appointed mental health first aider?

☐ Has the First Aid Emergency Action Person or First Aider completed a first aid training course from a recognised awarding body and received a certificate?

☐ If required, have you undertaken any training as required by Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981?

☐ If required, have the relevant appointed people completed and passed a DBS check?

☐ Are you aware of when the relevant qualifications need to be renewed?

☐ Do the relevant appointed people have access to an appropriate rugby first aid kit?

☐ Are the have the relevant appointed people familiar with the first aid room?


In addition to first aid training, rugby first aiders to elite teams must have the complete mandatory medical equipment list. See exactly what’s needed in our guide. Rugby Union and Rugby League Mandatory Medical Equipment: 2023 Update and What to Buy.

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