WHAT IS TOUCH RUGBY?

There are two forms of TOUCH RUGBY in France: five-a-side touch rugby, created by the French Rugby Federation, and touch rugby, a slightly different game that originated in Australia. We'll tell you everything you need to know.

Rugby without the big hits and the tackling, touch rugby is one of the only team sports in which mixed teams can compete against each other. Originating from Australia, touch rugby has its own set of rules and is the inspiration behind the five-a-side version of the game played in France. 

 

1. TOUCH RUGBY, THE NO-CONTACT VERSION OF RUGBY

Touch rugby came into being in the 1950s and its main feature is that it is a limited-contact sport, in contrast to rugby union . As its name suggests, touch rugby involves contact made with only minimal force. As a result, tackling is not permitted. It is this characteristic that makes it a mixed sport. Though often associated with five-a-side rugby, it is very different and is a sport in its own right, with its own international federation. In touch rugby only six players per team are allowed on the pitch at any one time. There are a maximum of 14 players on one team, including replacements

 

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2. THE RULES OF TOUCH RUGBY

The rules of touch rugby are more similar to those of rugby league, of which it is a variation, than those of rugby union. Like all forms of rugby, the aim is to score more tries than the opposition. Ball carriers are touched by opposing players rather than tackled. They are brought to a halt whenever a touch is performed by a member of the defending team on any part of their body or on the ball. The team in possession has a set of six touches in which to score a try. If they do not score after six touches, they concede possession to the other team. In this type of rugby kicking is not allowed. As in all other forms of the game, however, the ball cannot be passed forwards. 

Touch rugby pitches are rectangular in shape and measure 70 x 50 metres. The ball is smaller than a conventional rugby ball (size 4 rather than 5), which makes it easier to handle. The playing time is 40 minutes (two halves of 20 minutes). One point is awarded for a try, though in mixed games two points are awarded if the try is scored by a female player.

 

3. TECHNICAL SKILLS

Like all forms of rugby, touch has its own specific skills that are not seen elsewhere. We're going to tell you all about them:

 

TOUCH
The touch, as explained above, is the act of touching the ball carrier or the ball itself to prevent them progressing up the pitch. The defending player making the touch should shout "touch" when they do so. Touches should not be performed with force as this will result in a penalty being awarded against the defending team. Touches can be made with one or both hands. When a ball carrier is touched, the player must perform a rollball by placing the ball on the ground at the point where the touch was made and rolling it back or stepping over it. 

Teams have a set of six touches in which to score a try. When the fifth touch is made, the referee announces that the team in possession are on their final touch. When the sixth touch is made, possession is turned over to the other team. Two clarifications: if the ball carrier is touched in the act of scoring a try, the touch is awarded and the attacking team must start their next attack from the five-metre line. Also, if the ball carrier is touched and then passes the ball, the referee whistles for a “touch and pass” and possession is turned over to the opposing team. 

 

ROLLBALL
The rollball is a way of restarting play. It must be performed by when a ball carrier is touched by a member of the opposing team. The player who has been touched is required to do it. The rollball is performed on the ground, at the point where the touch was made. The opposing team must take up position a minimum of five metres from the restart. 

When possession is turned over, the team taking possession must perform a rollball. Turnovers can occur for a number of reasons: when the ball touches the ground, when the player taking possession after a rollball (the dummy half) is touched, when the ball carrier goes into touch, or after a set of six touches

 

TAPBALL
Play starts and restarts (after a try or a penalty) with a tapball. The rules on tapballs are very clear: The player must put the ball down on the ground in front of them, move it with their foot no more than a metre, and then pick it up. The defending team must retreat at least ten metres from the point where the tapball is taken. 

Defending players cannot move until the player taking the tapball has touched the ball. Although the attacking team must relinquish possession if the dummy half is touched on receiving the ball, if the player taking the tapball is touched, their team do not lose possession. 

 

PENALTIES
As in other forms of rugby, there are penalties in touch rugby. When a penalty is awarded a tapball is taken. Penalties can be awarded for a number of reasons: a forward pass, a touch and pass, a rollball not taken in the exact position of the mark (where the touch was made) or any type of behaviour in breach of the rules of touch (using more than minimum force to make a touch, claiming a touch when none was made, etc). The penalty can result in the player committing the infringement being removed from the field of play for two minutes or sent off if the referee deems their behaviour to be aggressive. 

 

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4. DIFFERENCES WITH FIVE-A-SIDE RUGBY 

Five-a-side rugby, also known as "rugby à toucher" and very often confused with touch rugby, is played in France. These two forms have different rules, however. Five-a-side rugby was created by the FFR to allow as many people as possible to access rugby and play the game without heavy contact and tackling. This is why it is often confused with touch rugby. 

Look closely, however, and you'll see the differences. In five-a-side rugby the pitch is twice as small as a touch rugby pitch. There are five players a side as opposed to six in touch rugby. Five-a-side rugby matches last 20 minutes, while touch rugby matches last 40. Kicking is allowed, which is not the case in touch rugby. Touches must be performed with both hands and only between the shoulder and the pelvis, whereas the touch can be made on any part of the body in touch rugby. Furthermore, the player performing the touch and the player who has been touched must remain in contact prior to the restart, and the defending team does not have to withdraw five metres. These are just some examples of the many differences between touch rugby, which originated in Australia, and five-a-side rugby, which came into being in France. 

 

5. TOUCH RUGBY IN FRANCE

In France, touch rugby has its own federation, Touch France. Offload is fortunate enough to be one of its partners. French touch rugby has a national championship, which in 2019 is known as SuperTouch. It is an annual competition. There are also a number of national teams competing in the various categories of touch rugby. In May 2019, the men's national over-30s team won the match for third place at the Touch World Cup. Watch the video here: 

Now that you know all there is to know about touch rugby it's time to get playing! 

 

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