07 December 2022

Getting started – Touch rugby

April 8, 2011
getting started touch rugby

Touch is one of the fastest growing sports in England, played by people of all ages and skill levels. Introduced from the Southern Hemisphere in the 70’s, Touch is a fast, evasive, non-contact form of rugby.

touch3As a sport that’s growing in popularity, Gregg Cropper from England Touch shares his guide to get you started.

What’s it all about?

Touch is a minimal contact sport played on a pitch half the size of a rugby field (70m x 50m). The game emphasises running, agility, passing, catching and communication.

Touch is often referred to as Touch Rugby, but there is NO tackling, lineouts, scrumming or kicking involved. This makes it appealing to a wide range of ages and abilities, from juniors to masters and from slight to heavy builds.

It is one of the few team sports where men and women compete on teams together not only socially but at an international level. There are currently approximately 12,000 people playing touch in organised leagues around the UK.

The main aim of the game is for each team to score “touchdowns” and to prevent the opposition from scoring (one touchdown equals one point). Teams are made up of six players on the field at any given time, with up to eight substitute players on the sideline.

Teams are categorised into Mens, Womens and Mixed divisions. Players can substitute anytime during the game and as often as they like.

Teams are either attacking (if they have possession of the ball) or defending (if they are trying to prevent the other team from scoring). The ball must be passed backwards at all times. Attacking players must perform a “roll ball” (between the legs) once they have been touched by a defender. Defenders must retire in a straight line five meters from the “roll ball” mark.

After six touches, the possession changes to the other team for their turn at attack. Penalties are awarded for a variety of infringements including, forward pass, offside, touch-and-pass, roll-ball over the mark and over-vigorous play.

Why Touch?

The combination of skills, fitness and the social aspects makes Touch (in my opinion!) the ultimate game for women! The current national teams have players who participated in rugby union, rugby league, netball, athletics, gymnastics, taekwondo, ultimate frisbee, football – you name it they are all there. And some players haven’t played much sport at all but were just looking for a social way to keep fit.

If you have been injured, are tired of getting injured or not really interested in contact sports then Touch is for you. It is a high intensity sport and is great for fitness.

While rugby players can transition very well into Touch you certainly don’t have to have held a rugby ball to learn how to play.

Socially, Touch is a fantastic sport. It is really one of the only sports where men and women compete together in International teams. A mixed team is only as good as its women and women players are therefore highly valued! There is opportunity to play both Women’s and Mixed Touch. In most clubs the men and women train together, creating a fantastic social environment.

The majority of Touch in England is based around social leagues and is not serious at all. Almost all the clubs and leagues have fantastic opportunities for absolute beginners to learn and play.

England Touch puts on regular tournaments around the country giving the social and competitive teams opportunity to go on Tour! There are also a number of fantastic Tournaments in Europe such as Paris, Vienna and Valencia.

While the opportunities for social Touch are large – the opportunity for great competitive sport is also right there with the National Touch Series, Super Leagues and national selections every year.


I’ve never played Touch, is it hard to learn?

Touch is very simple to play. 2-3 games will see you master the basic skills and the more you play the better you will become. As long as you are keen to get involved you will develop the skills to enjoy yourself on the field.

How fit do I have to be to play?

People of all shapes, sizes, ages and fitness levels play in social and competitive leagues – you chose the level you wish to play. You will find that over the season your personal fitness levels will increase. Touch is a great way to exercise, improve cardio vascular fitness and help to burn excess fat.

What do I need to play?

All you need to get started is a willingness to learn and have some fun. You can start by simply getting a bunch of friends together, a set of the rules and a ball. The sport is renowned for its social appetite.

What does it cost to play?

Playing socially with your friends costs nothing, league costs vary throughout the country, but works out to be around £35 – £45pp for 10 weeks.


How long are the games?

The international standard is 40 mins (2 x 20 mins). Local leagues differ.

How big is the field?

The international standard is 70m x 50m.

How many people play in a team?

The international standard is 14 players per team, six on the field at any one time with up to eight substitutes who interchange. 10-12 players is a good number to allow for that much needed rest during the game.

What is the male/female ratio in a Mixed Team?

The international standard is a minimum of three women and a maximum of three men on the field. This may vary at clubs due to local conditions so please check with the club where you wish to play.

How does the scoring work?

Single points are scored for each touchdown, although local competition rules may differ.

If I haven’t played before am I able to come down and just watch?

Of course! Feel free to come down to any of the venues and check out how the game is played. Simply turn up at any of the venues where Touch is being played, you’ll find people are really friendly and happy to chat about the game to you. Check out the England Touch website and follow ‘where to play’.

How far can I go with Touch?

If you have the skill and determination you can represent your country in National and International competitions, with the Touch World Cup being the ultimate test of the World Champs.

Is there an international governing body?

Yes, the Federation of International Touch. For more information on FIT, please visit their website: www.international-touch.org.

Otherwise, for more information visit www.englandtouch.org.uk or email gregg@englandtouch.co.uk.

Gregg Cropper, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

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