What is touch rugby

A short description of the game

Print version
Text Size: Change text to small (default) Change text to medium Change text to large
Enlarge Image

Related Files

» Rookie Primer
This is a description of regular (full-contact) rugby. Touch rugby is essentially what the "backs" do. The "step-over" to restart play is meant to simulate a scrum, ruck or maul.

Related Links

» USA Rugby

» International Rugby Board

What is Touch Rugby?

It all started in Australia in the 1960's as a warm up game for rugby clubs. The simplicity of this game is unique; all you need is a rugby ball, a space to play and a group of friends. Touch Rugby is a fast moving minimal contact evasive game that is played throughout the world by men and women of all ages and skill levels. The game is similar to rugby but without the tackling, scrumming, rucking, mauling, lineouts and kicking. This fast, simple and exciting game promotes the fundamental skills of running, handling, evasion and support play, whilst developing basis principles of attack and defence, without the fear of getting hurt.

Touch Rugby is suitable for both beginners and experienced players. You can play in either men's, women's or mixed divisions. Touch Rugby is a minimal contact recreational sport that is about playing the game on the field and also the social atmosphere afterwards. Touch Rugby is a fun game for the local park or even the beach, it is easy to learn and a great way to get in shape.

How do you play?

Object of the Game
The object of the game is for each team to score touchdowns (called "trys") and to prevent the opposition from scoring. The ball may be passed, knocked or handed between onside players of the attacking team who may in turn run or otherwise move with the ball in an attempt to gain territorial advantage and score.

Defending players prevent the attacking team from gaining a territorial advantage by touching the ball carrier. Either defending or attacking players may initiate the touch.

Method of Scoring
A try  is awarded when an attacking player places the ball on the ground or downs a loose ball in the try zone (endzone).  You must put downward pressure on the ball on the ground (just running into the try zone is not a score). 

The Touch
Players of both defending and attacking teams are to use the minimum force necessary to affect the touch. A touch can be made with one hand on any part of the person, their clothing or the ball. After a touch has been affected, the player in possession is required to stop, return to the mark where the touch occurred (if the mark has been over-run).

To restart play, the touched player places the ball on the ground and steps over it.  The defense MUST retreat to 6 feet from the mark.  Another player on the defense (as a dummy half) picks up the ball to begin play.  Once the ball has been touche, it is live.  The offense does not have to wait for the defense to retreat to an onside position.

After being touched 4 times (4 downs) the ball is handed over to the other side.

An attacking player is offside when that player is forward of another attacking player who has possession or who last had possession of the ball.
A defending player is offside when that player has not retreated the required 6 feet at recommencement of play.
For all offside incidents the opposition will be awarded a penalty.  A penalty results in a fresh set of downs. 
A player who is offsides should raise their hands in the air, not participate in the play, and retreat to an onside position.

A knock-on occurs when a player knocks the ball forward with any part of their body and the ball hits the ground.  This results in a turn-over.

Loss of Possesion
Possession will change for the following offenses:
- Knock-on
- Forward pass
- Running or throwing the ball out of bounds ("into touch")


WHOI logo

Last updated October 29, 2007
© Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. All rights reserved