Tag Rules

Competition format

  1. Teams of 10 pupils (games are 7-a-side), rolling substitutes are permitted provided that the ball is dead.
  2. Games will be played straight through (i.e. no half-time break will be taken), and no extra time is allowed in any match. Teams are asked to present themselves 5 minutes before each game.
  3. Each team group will compete in pools on a Round Robin basis; each team will play all the other teams in their group.
  4. This is a development competition with the emphasis being on having fun and learning to play the game. Coaches are encouraged to submit teams of mixed abilities to make it as enjoyable as possible for all participants. TWRFC strongly encourage clubs to abide by the half-game rule. i.e. all players should (injury permitting) play for at least half of each game.
  5. Games will be brought to an end if the points difference between teams exceeds 6-points.  The referee is given discretion to continue beyond this, only if they consider (in consultation with the coaches) that it is in the player’s best interest to continue (i.e. all the players, on both sides, are still having fun).
  6. Where there is a clash of team colours the referee will decide which team changes shirts or wears bibs.


  1. The referee’s decision in all cases is final and will be respected at all times, by players, coaches and parents alike. The organisers respectfully ask all adults to set a good example to the players in this regard.
  2. All team coaches must substitute any of their players at the request of the referee when foul or dangerous play or persistent offending is identified. The player concerned will be suspended from the remainder of that game.
  3. Coaches should try to resolve any disagreement over refereeing decisions amicably between themselves, but failing that, any such issues should be directed to the Control Centre and the Festival Organisers, whose decision on any dispute will be final.

Tag Rugby Rules


7 on the pitch. Squad Size: 10 (three subs)


A try is worth one point. To score a try a player must carry the ball over the opponents’ goal line and press the ball down on the ground. After a try is scored the game restarts from the centre of the field with a free pass by the non-scoring team.


No forward passes are allowed and will be penalised by a free pass being awarded to the non-offending team at the place the ball left the player’s hands. A forward pass is any pass where the ball travels in the direction of the opponents’ goal line. Note: A pass directly sideways is allowed and in fact can be the most effective pass players make as no ground is lost with this type of pass.


The ‘Tackle’ (Tag): Only the player with the ball can be tagged and a tag is simply the removal by a defender of one of the two ribbons from the ballcarrier. Ball carriers can run or dodge potential taggers but cannot fend them off, spin around or guard or shield their ribbons in any way. This includes using the ball to fend away defenders. The defender then holds the ribbon above their head and the referee shouts ‘tag’ for all to hear. Defenders must back off at least one metre from the ball carrier, allowing space for them to pass. They are not allowed to snatch the ball from the player’s hand. Note: When playing with a referee, it is helpful to players if the referee shouts ‘pass’ as a tag is made. Once tagged, the player in possession of the ball must attempt to stop as soon as possible and pass the ball within 3 seconds of being tagged (real beginners could be given longer). Even at full pace, the ball carrier will be expected to stop in 3 strides. Near the goal line, players are only allowed one step to score after being tagged. If their momentum means they have taken 2 or 3, then they must attempt to pass to a team-mate to score, even if they are now over the goal line. Note: Players can pass in the act of stopping.

After a tag has been made, both the ball carrier and the defender are momentarily out of the game. The defender can take no further part until they have handed back the ribbon to the attacker (not thrown it on the floor) and the attacker no further part, until they have replaced their ribbon back on their belt. Note: The defender hands back the ribbon only after the attacker has passed the ball. This action simulates the time taken up by defenders when tackling in full contact rugby and stops defenders being unrealistically active as can happen in traditional games of touch rugby. Remember – There should be no tags on the floor at any time. Very occasionally, a ball carrier may accidentally flick off one of their own ribbons in the act of running, making it very difficult for a defender to tag them. In this case the game should be stopped and the player allowed to replace it. The game then restarts with a free pass to the team in possession at the place where the ribbon came off. An attacking team has 5 tags to score a try; a changeover occurs on the sixth tag.


A free pass is used to start the game (from the centre of the field) or to restart it at the place where the ball went out of play or an infringement took place. Note: If an infringement takes place over the goal line, or within 5 metres of the goal line, then a free pass should be awarded to the non-offending team, 5 metres out from the goal line to create some space.

At a free pass the ball is held in two hands and on the instruction ‘play’ given by the referee the player passes the ball to a team-mate. More experienced players can be made to tap it with their foot first before passing, as they do when taking a tap penalty in full contact rugby. When playing without a referee, the opposing team captain gives the instruction to ‘play’. Note: It is the referee (or the opposing team captain when playing without a referee) who dictates when a free pass is taken by saying ‘play’. Players cannot take a quick free pass in Tag Rugby, instead referees must allow sufficient time for defenders to get back before restarting the game.

The player making the free pass must start play with a pass, they are not allowed to run with it themselves. The opposition cannot start moving forward until the player has actually passed the ball. At a free pass, the opposition must be 7 metres (7 large steps) back. More experienced players may prefer 10 metres.Ball out of play If the ball or ball carrier goes out of play a free pass is given to th other team from the sideline.

Players play Tag Rugby on their feet, with the ball in hand. If the ball goes to ground, players must not dive to the floor to recover the ball.

PENALTY: free pass to non-offending side.

The following rules will apply:-

  1. If the ball was lost forward, a free pass is awarded to the non-offending side unless advantage  occurs to the non-offending side.
  2. If the ball carrier falls to the ground with the ball then a free pass will be awarded to the non-ball carrying side.
  3. If the ball is passed other than forward and goes to ground play will continue and either side may pick up the ball. If the passed ball rolls into touch a free pass will commence from the touchline to the non-passing side.
  4. If the ball is pulled from the ball carriers grasp, a free pass is awarded to the ball carrier’s side.
  5. If the ball carrier dives to ground to score a try it will be disallowed and free pass will be awarded to the defending side 5m out from the goal-line.
  6. The only contact allowed between the two teams is the removal of a tag from the belt of the ball carrier. Any other type of contact on the ball carrier, such as shirt pulling, running in front of or barging the ball carrier, forcing the ball carrier into touch, etc. must be penalised with a free pass.