Youth Rules

Object of the game: Have fun and score tries!
Basic principle of the game: Run at spaces, not faces!

RULE 1 – Players
  1. There are a maximum of seven (7) players per team on the field at any one time. Squads are normally made up of twelve (12) players (subject to local rules). For practices or social games, teams can have ten (10) players in each team depending on the size of the field.
  2. Rolling subs at anytime but the exchange of tags must take place on the halfway line on the same side of the field. (Tags are to be worn by players on the field. No substitute may have an extra pair of Tags.)
  3. The replaced player should leave the field of play before the replacement can participate in the game. 
  4. In mixed games, the appropriate number of each gender must be maintained.
  5. This is subject to local rules but footwear should be suitable for the weather and surface conditions that prevail. The preferred and recommended footwear on grass is barefoot.
  6. Players may not wear spectacles or sunglasses.  Contact lenses or sports goggles are permitted.
RULE 2 – The Playing Area
  1. Field size is 45 metres in length from try line to try line, and 30 metres wide, from touchline to touchline, depending on available space and elements.
  2. Ensure field is clear of glass, debris or any items that could cause injury before starting games.
RULE 3 – Time
  1. Subject to local rules but standard game is one half of fifteen (15) minutes.
  2. The captain who wins the toss can choose either, which direction his/her team will play or,possession at the start of the game.  The captain who lost the toss can then choose the remaining option.
  3. The game starts with a tap & pass at the centre of the half-way line.
RULE 4 – Kit & Equipment
  1. Only official Tag Rugby® Shorts / Belt to be worn.
  2. Only official SA Rugby Tag Rugby® tags to be used.
  3. Shirts to be tucked in at all times with tags properly positioned on the hips / sides.
  4. No dangerous items such as jewellery, glasses or watches may be worn during the game.
  5. If jewellery cannot be removed, e.g. rings, then they must be completely covered by tape with no sharp or raised edges exposed.
  6. Depending on the event, bonus points may be awarded for matching kit.
  7. The colour of the tags worn by a team should not be the same colour as their shorts.
RULE 5 – Scoring
  1. Points are only gained by scoring tries. A try counts 1 point.
  2. A try is awarded when the attacking ball carrier grounds ground the ball on the opposition try-line or in the in-goal area.
  3. In a mixed game, a male player’s try counts 1 point and a female player’s counts 2 points.
  4. A try may only be scored after the attacking team have passed the ball to three (3) different players in a single movement before crossing the try line.
  5. If the ball is grounded on the touch-in-goal line or the dead ball line, then it is not a try and the game will restart with a tap & pass to the defensive team, five metres (5m) out from the try-line.
  6. For safety purposes, when playing on hard surfaces or in restricted areas, a try can be scored by the ball carrier crossing the try-line and not grounding the ball.
  7. NO DIVING is allowed when scoring a try.
  8. If an attacking player is tagged before they have actually grounded the ball for a try then a try should NOT be awarded.  Instead it will count as a tag and the game will restart with a tap & pass to the attacking team, five metres (5m) out from the try-line. If this is the 3rd tag then a changeover should occur.
  9. When tagged near, or over, the try-line the attacking player still has the option of passing the ball to a team-mate to score, provided that this is done within 3 seconds.
  10. Penalty Try – A try will be awarded if a try would probably have been scored but for foul play by an opponent. If the try was probably going to be scored by a female, then this will be worth two (2) points.
RULE 6 – General Play
  1. Basic rules of rugby apply but no tackling, scrums, line-outs or kicking is allowed.
  2. Knock-ons and forward passes result in a turnover ball and a restart with a tap and pass.
  3. When in possession a team have two (2) consecutive ‘tags’ or ‘plays’ to score a try.  If a third (3rd) tag is made, a changeover occurs and the opposition are awarded a tap & pass at the place the third (3rd) tag took place. 
  4. After a try has been scored, the opponents of the team that scored restart play with a tap & pass on the half-way line.
  5. In order to prevent the ball carrier from deliberately trying to protect his/her tags, the ball should be carried in two hands within 3m of engaging defenders.
  6. Twisting the body is allowed but no turning beyond 180 degrees.
  7. Whenever the Tag Rugby rules are broken, a tap & pass is awarded to the non-offending team at the place the infringement took place and the number of tags (Tag Count) starts back to zero.  If the infringement took place over the try-line, or within five metres (5m) of it, the tap & pass is awarded five metres (5m) out from the try-line to create some space.
  8. No player can participate in the game without both tags being correctly in place.
  9. In the spirit of the game, if the referee believes a tag has dropped off the ball carrier’s Tag belt purely by accident and a defender is within tagging distance, the referee can stop the game and award a tap & pass to the ball carrier’s team, counting this as one of the tags towards their tag count tally. The place where this tap & pass is taken is at the discretion of the referee, but is normally where the tag originally dropped off, or where, in the view of the referee, the ball carrier would probably have been tagged by a defender if the tag was properly in place.  If this is the 3rd tag in the tag count then the referee should award a changeover of possession.
RULE 7 – Contact
  1. Strictly NO CONTACT allowed.
  2. The ball carrier is not allowed to run directly into defenders and defenders may not block the progress of the ball carrier unless they are pulling off a tag.
  3. Defenders may not impede non-ball carrying players.
  4. Hand offs are not allowed.
  5. Pulling of clothing and knocking the ball out of an opponents’ hands are not allowed.
  6. In order to prevent the ball carrier from deliberately trying to protect his/her tags, the ball should be carried in two hands within 3m of engaging defenders.
  7. Twisting the body is allowed but no turning beyond 180 degrees.
RULE 8 – Off Side
  1. Defending players (except the tagger / marker) must retire at least 5m at the “roll-the-ball” not to be off-side.
  2. Players will only be penalised for off-side if they interfere with play.
  3. What is off-side?Once a tag has been made there is an imaginary off-side line that runs through the ball and across the pitch, (except for the actual tagger for whom it is one metre (1m) further back .When a tag has been made, all defenders must attempt to retire towards their own try-line until they are behind the ball (the off-side line).  Defenders in front of the ball at a tag, and therefore off-side, are not allowed to interfere with play in any way e.g. by blocking or intercepting the pass, marking up support players or immediately tagging the receiver of the pass. Note: There is no off-side in open play.
  4. When should players be penalised for being off-side? Players should only ever be penalised for off-side if they are Off-SIDE AND INTERFERING WITH PLAY IMMEDIATELY AFTER A TAG. If players find themselves in an off-side position at a tag they must make every effort to get back on side; but if they are in no way interfering with play then they should not be penalised and play should be allowed to continue.  Players who are off-side are temporarily out of the game.
  5. Legal interception – A defending player who is in an on-side position (behind the ball) at a tag is permitted to run forward and intercept a pass made by the attacking player who was tagged, providing they were still in an on-side position when the actual pass is made.
RULE 9 – Tap and Pass
  1. A tap & pass is used to start the game or restart it at the place the ball went out of play or an infringement or changeover took place.   
  2. Any player may take a tap & pass awarded to their team. 
  3. The ball may be placed on the ground or held in the hand and on the instruction “PLAY” by the referee, and not before, the attacker must tap the ball with the foot, or lower leg, and pass the ball. Tapping the ball with the knee is not allowed and the referee should stop play and request the tap & pass be retaken in the proper manner.
  4. If playing Tag Rugby® without a referee the instruction “PLAY” can be given by the opposition captain.
  5. Whenever a tap & pass is awarded the tag count will start back to zero.
  6. At a tap & pass, the defending team must retire back three to seven metres (3 -7m depending on field size) towards their own try-line to an imaginary line called the defensive line, or until they have reached their own try-line if this is nearer. Defending players are not allowed to move forward from this defensive line until the attacking player has actually passed the ball.
  7. A tap & pass cannot be taken quickly but only after the referee has given the defensive team time (about five (5) seconds) to retire the required three – seven metres (3- 7m) and given the instruction “PLAY”.  Play must restart with the attacking player passing the ball, players are not allowed to tap the ball and run themselves. If they do the referee should stop play and request the tap & pass be retaken in the proper manner.
  8. If a defending player, who has not retired back the required three – seven metres (3- 7m), interferes with play, the referee should award a tap & pass to the non offending team if the attacking team gain no advantage. This tap & pass is awarded at the defensive line the defending players should have retired too.
  9. For safety reasons, at a tap & pass the receiver of the pass must not start from more than two meters (2m) back from the mark to avoid the potentially dangerous ‘crash ball’ move.
  10. If an infringement takes place over the try-line, or within five metres (5m) of it, a tap & pass is awarded five metres (5m) out from the try-line to create some space.
  11. If a tap & pass is awarded but the offending team is guilty of further misconduct e.g. disputing the referees decision, the referee cautions or orders off the guilty player and advances the mark of the tap & pass seven metres (7m) forward. Further misconduct can result in the referee advancing the mark a further seven metres (7m).
RULE 10 – Tag (Tackle)
  1. Only the ball carrier can be tagged  by the removal of one of his/her tags.
  2. The defender holds the tag above his/her head and shouts “TAG”.
  3. The referee signals a successful “tag” with a short blast on his whistle and saying “Tag one”, “Tag two”, or “Tag three, turnover ball”.
  4. After being tagged, the ball carrier, must stop running and pass immediately. The ball carrier is allowed a maximum of three (3) steps and three (3) seconds to pass the ball. Failure to do this results in a tap & pass to the non-offending team at the place the infringement.
  5. After making a tag, the tagger, and other defenders, must back off at least one metre (1m) from the ball carrier (attacker), allowing space for the ball carrier to pass.  10.6 After a tag has occurred and the attacker has passed the ball, both the attacker and the tagger are momentarily out of the game until the tagger has handed back the tag to the attacker and the attacker has replaced their tag back on their belt. Note: When dealing with beginners or players of lesser ability then, at the discretion of those in charge, players can be given longer than three (3) seconds to pass the ball after being tagged and/or the number of the tags (Tag Count) can be unlimited with possession changing on infringements only. Similarly, with more able players, or when playing in a restricted area, the Tag Count can be reduced to less than three (3).
  6. If the ball carrier is tagged simultaneously in the act of passing, i.e. the ball is simultaneously leaving the ball carrier’s hands the moment he/she is tagged, the referee will always rule in favour of the attacking team, shouting “BALL AWAY  PLAY ON”. The player who has been tagged may continue playing in the movement without the removed tag until that movement is complete.
  7. For a tag to be legal, the ball must still be in the hands of the ball carrier at the moment the tag is made.  If a defender deliberately removes a tag from the ball carrier after he/she has passed the ball, or before the player has received the ball, the defender will be deemed to have made an illegal tag.  In both instances the cases the referee should, if the non-offending team gain no advantage, award a tap & pass to the non-offending team at the place the offence occurred.
  8. If a defender calls “TAG” without physically removing a tag (a ‘phantom tag’) then the attacking team shall be awarded a tap & pass if the attacking team have gained no advantage.
  9. For safety, if the ball carrier accidentally falls or slips to the ground while in possession of the ball (this includes if the knee or elbow touches the ground) and a defender is within tagging distance, a tag will be deemed to have been made. In this situation the referee should stop the game immediately and restart it with a tap & pass to the team in possession of the ball, adding a tag to that teams’ tag count tally.  If this is the 3rd  tag then a changeover should occur.
RULE 11 – Ball out of Play
  1. If the ball or the ball carrier touches the touch-line or anything or anyone on or beyond the touch-line, the ball is out of play and a tap & pass is awarded to the team who was not in last possession of the ball or last touched the ball before it went into touch.  This tap & pass should be taken five metres (5m) in from the touch-line to create some space.