- Touch rugby
:"This article deals with several different games, all of which are referred to as touch rugby. For an article on the rugby league form, which is also known as Touch, touch football or six down, see:
Touch football (rugby league)."The name touch rugby, refers to derivatives of rugby footballin which players do not tackle in the traditional, highly physical way, but instead touch their opponents using their hands on any part of the body, clothing, or the ball.
Touch rugby games are often played towards the end of a training session, on the day before an important rugby game, to minimize the chances of an accidental injury. Schools have also used touch rugby as part of their curriculum to avoid the injuries that would inevitably stem from playing the full-contact game.
Touch rugby has a number of advantages over the traditional games, including the ease of learning and the ability to play it without fear of injury. As a result it is a popular social game; mixed-gender and women-only games are also very popular.
Touch rugby helps to develop essential skills and fitness for use both in rugby and other sports. Touch rugby also has less required equipment. Since kicking is not part of the game, posts are not required and the game can be played with minimal facilities (a ball and a rectangular playing area). Social games in South Africa (predominantly the single-touch version) are usually played barefoot. Beach touch is also popular.
There is no single set of rules for touch rugby. Touch rugby is often played informally, rather like a pick-up soccer game might be played, since as a light contact sport there is no need for strict third-party refereeing. In addition to tackles being replaced by "touches", the rules of both rugby codes are often simplified, removing elements such as scrums, rucks, mauls,
line-outs and kicks.
The most popular, codified form of touch rugby is derived from
rugby leagueand played under the auspices of the Federation of International Touch(FIT). It is officially known as Touch or touch football in Australia, and as six down in South Africa. FIT rules are popular not only with those playing in games organized under the auspices of FIT, but also when playing informal games of touch rugby. The version of the FIT rules known as one touch in South Africa features a change of possession after a single touch rather than the eponymous six in the league-derived game.
Other version of touch rugby are not fully codified, so when strangers wish to play together they have to revert to the early days of rugby and agree on the rules before they start. For example, as an aid for fitness training rugby players will sometimes play touch rugby based on modified rules of "Touch" or
Rugby Sevens. One common variation is that a fair touch must be below the waist.
Other variations on Touch include punting to increase the speed of the game, but all punts must be caught in the air otherwise the kick is considered a knock-on. To encourage rucking, a small non-contact ruck may be formed when a player is "touched". The "touched" player must fall to the ground as he would if he were tackled, and then two players from the attacking team must "ruck" over him within three seconds to keep possession of the ball. A scrum-half then recovers the ball, and play continues.
United States, touch is usually played following pre-1967 rugby league rules, minus kicking. Players being touched with two hands must place the ball down or play the ball at the spot of the "tackle," and the defensive team must retreat 5 yards or meters. There is often no tackle count, meaning that almost the only way that the defence can obtain the ball is through offensive mistakes. Whenever an offensive infraction occurs (ball into touch, knock-on, or forward pass), the defence receives a tap-kick at the spot of the infraction. Teams switch sides after each try is scored, and the team scoring the try kicks off from the halfway point.
Until 2003/2004 the English
RFUin its junior development program called "The Three Stages of the Rugby Continuum" encouraged the playing of "Non-contact/touch rugby" in its under-eights competition, although now promotes Mini Tag instead.
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