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Saints’ Developing Player Programme to host innovative U13s Festival

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

Northampton Saints will be breaking new ground with an inventive and original new format at the Developing Player Programme (DPP) under-13s festival later this month.

The 15-a-side tournament – which will kick-off inside Franklin’s Gardens at 6.30pm on Wednesday 23 May – aims to not only incentivise players to play great rugby, but also to get creative with the ball, show character in defence, and demonstrate the spirit of rugby.

New rules will be in play throughout the evening, with the stadium’s big screen being used to score.

Saints’ technical coaching consultant Alan Gaffney will also be on hand for a Q&A session before the games begin, and the Club’s player development pathway manager Ross Stewart is confident this format can motivate the next generation of Northampton starlets.

“The DPP’s aim in introducing these exciting new rules is to force the players to think on their feet and make more decisions by encouraging more ball in play and more ball movement,” said Stewart.

“We want to be rewarding players for their intent, not just for how many times they get the ball over the tryline, and also support the players to explore all their capabilities on a rugby field.

“Of course, it is important for us to provide an environment where we are able to assess the abilities and potential of players to support their development through the Saints pathway.

“We want to be rewarding players for their intent, not just for how many times they get the ball over the tryline, and also support the players to explore all their capabilities on a rugby field."

Ross Stewart

“But it is also vital to give the players and parents an experience they will not forget, and one which could inspire them to imagine what is possible in the future.”

The Northampton Alliance, East Northants, Hunts and Peterborough, and Bedfordshire DPP centres will all be involved in the festival.

Before the matches begin, there will be a presentation in the Rodber Suite at Franklin’s Gardens to explain the DPP’s long-term aims and plans for the future – with all schools, clubs, coaches and parents involved in the festival invited.

A Saints Store stand will also be open in the Rodber offering superb discounts to participants, while parents/spectators will also be encouraged to embrace the new rules.

Stewart added: “We want our parents and coaches above all to be applauding and encouraging all teams – the effort and ambition is more important than the outcome.

“We’ll be emphasising the importance of thanking the referee and making sure that the first question they ask after the games is whether the children had fun playing.” 

Rule changes 

  • Balls will be position around the outside of the pitch; players will be able to take a quick throw with any ball.
  • If a penalty is awarded, the attacking team can restart the game from anywhere behind the mark as long as they play the ball with their foot.
  • Players will have 10secs to play a penalty/free-kick or the sanction is reversed.
  • Players are allowed to call one ‘time out’ in each game that will last one minute (no coach involvement allowed).
  • Games will restart from the middle with a tap and pass back over 10 (halfway will be the offside line) and this can happen straight after the try is scored. The team that has conceded will have 15 seconds to restart the game or the ball will be turned over.


The big screen will be used to score the games, with teams able to gain points for the following:

  • 5 points for a try
  • 2 points for an offload
  • 2 points for innovative play (through the legs pass, kicking options, etc)
  • 3 points for displaying defensive resilience
  • 2 points for demonstrating the values of SPIRIT (Sportsmanship, Pride, Innovation, Respect, Integrity, Teamwork)
  • 2 points for completing more than three passes before a tackle is made

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