Tag rugby is a non contact sport. It is an exciting and enjoyable game that men, women and children of all abilities and ages can enjoy playing. There are no scrums in tag rugby.
The object of tag rugby is to score tries by running with the ball with the aim of touching it on the ground behind the opponents try line. A distinctive feature of tag rugby is that players wear tag rugby belts or tag rugby shorts. These have Velcro patches to which two ribbons are attached. Instead of physically tackling a player who has possession of the ball, tag rugby defending players attempt to remove a ribbon in order to advance the game.
Tag rugby can be played with just four of five players in a team, so is a great game to play with friends and family at the beach. Because tag rugby is easy to play it does not take long to pick up the basic rules and can be played by just about anyone regardless of any previous experience or knowledge of rugby.
A game of tag rugby usually lasts for 20 minutes each half with a five minute break in between, however games played at tag rugby competitions and festivals are shorter.
Tag rugby is played with a tag rugby ball and all players wear either a tag rugby belt or tag rugby shorts. These have Velcro patches which carry two ribbons. The two ribbons must be positioned on either side of the hips.
- Most organised tag rugby matches play with teams of six tag rugby team players.
- However rolling substitutions can be made throughout a game from a squad of up to ten players.
Tag rugby play
- In tag rugby, play alternates between teams. One tag rugby side plays as the attacking team who attempt to score the tries and the other side plays as the defensive team who attempt to stop them.
- A tag rugby attacking team player, in possession of the ball, must endeavour to run to the opponents try line in order to score, passing the ball sideways and backwards to team members in order to avoid the defensive players.
- The defensive tag rugby team, try to prevent the attacking team’s progress by removing a ribbon from the player that is carrying the ball. The attacking players try to out run or pass the ball to team mates in order to prevent the loss of their ribbons.
- The attacking team have four tags in which to score. That is, they must score tries before they have lost four ribbons. Once a fifth tag or ribbon is taken, play swaps over and the defending team take possession of the ball and become the attacking team.
Beginning the tag rugby game and the free pass
- A free pass, sometimes called a tap and go, is used to start a game of tag rugby. The ball is held in two hands and on the word "play" given by the referee or opposing team captain, the ball is first tapped by the foot and then passed (using the hands) to a tag rugby team mate.
- The free pass is also used to restart a tag rugby game if an infringement has taken place or if the ball has gone out of play.
- The tag rugby player who has the free pass must not run with the ball himself and must always pass it to a team mate.
- The defensive team is not allowed to move until the ball has been passed and must remain at 7 metres distance from the player attempting the free pass.
- As with the rules of rugby, forward passes are not allowed in tag rugby. All tag rugby passes must be made sideways or backwards.
- There is strictly no physical contact in tag rugby The players should not come into contact with each other at any time and failure to keep to this rule will be penalised.
- Tagging is the way to “tackle” in tag rugby. Only the player with possession of the ball can be tagged, that is, have a ribbon removed by a defending player. The attacking player can try to dodge defenders but is not allowed to physically ward them off, spin or guard his or her ribbons with the tag rugby ball.
- Once tagged, the tagged player should stop running within three steps. When an attacking player is tagged, the defending player should hold the ribbon above his or her head and shout “tag”. The tag rugby game should then come to a brief halt and the tagged player should pass the ball as quickly as possible to a team member.
- All tag rugby players should be at least 1 metre away from the tagged player in order that he or she can make the pass without interference from tag rugby defending players.
- The tag rugby game then continues, however the tagged player and defending player are both temporarily out of the game until the defender has returned the ribbon to the attacker and it has been fastened back onto his shorts or tag rugby belt.
- If a ribbon accidentally falls off one of the attacking players, tag rugby should be stopped until the ribbon is put back in place. The game is restarted by a free pass to the attacking team at the place where the incident took place.
Defending players are only offside in tag rugby if they have not moved back 7 metres when a free pass is given. Attacking players are offside if they stand in front of the tag rugby ball when a free pass is being made. There is no offside in the general flow of play in tag rugby and players should not be penalised unless they are interfering with play. A player who finds himself offside should move back into the correct position immediately.
Any infringements of the rules of tag rugby result in a free pass being given to the opposing side at the place where the incident took place. In tag rugby, infringements to the rules include any player kicking the ball, any physical contact between players, barging or running into other players, diving, or spinning to avoid tags being taken.
When an infringement takes place on the tag rugby try line, the free pass is moved to 5 metres back, to allow space for the tag rugby players to both attack and defend.
If the offence has been committed by the defending tag rugby team, the attacking side has their tag count returned to zero. A defending team is awarded a free pass at the centre spot.
There is only one way of scoring in tag rugby and that is by scoring tries. Each try is worth one point and in order to score in tag rugby, a player must run over the try line and touch the ball on the ground. After a try has been scored, the game of tag rugby restarts from the centre of the pitch. The team with the most tries is the winner.
Whether playing tag rugby in an organised game or simply having fun on the beach, tag rugby is a fun exciting game that everyone can enjoy.