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What is Social Tag Rugby: history and rules of the game?




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Social Tag Rugby is a non-contact rugby game aimed at beginner players, especially children and teenagers. The main differences are simplified rules, as well as the presence of tags – two Velcro strips that are attached to the player’s belt. Social Tag Rugby is used as a training and warm-up game in both rugby union and rugby league. The primary aim of Social Tag Rugby is to introduce the sport to beginners and foster a friendly environment for learning. Social Tag Rugby festivals often attract participants of all ages and skill levels.

History of Social Tag Rugby

The prototype of Social Tag Rugby originated in the 1980s in Gibraltar. Players tucked a 10-inch cord into their belts, which could be torn off by an opponent. In case of a successful attempt, the player shouted: “Tag”, and this was considered analogous to a successful capture. If the attacking team failed to score by the fourth “catch”, possession of the ball passed to the opponents. Social Tag Rugby provides a great opportunity for beginners to understand the basics of the sport in a non-intimidating environment.

In 1990, Nick Leonard, a physical education teacher from Plymouth, England, learned about the Gibraltar idea and decided to adapt it for children. The cord turned into ribbons, Velcro appeared, the number of “grips” increased – and in 1991 the first school Social Tag Rugby festival for children was held in Plymouth.

The new variety of the game quickly spread throughout the rugby world. Today it is especially popular in Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, the USA, Hong Kong, and especially Ireland, where it is actively played by adults.

Social Tag Rugby rules

In Social Tag Rugby, the player’s task is to carry the ball over the opposing team’s goal line. You cannot kick the ball, you are only allowed to move with it or pass it to a partner. In this case, the transfer can only be made sideways or backward. 

The defending team must stop the attacking team by tearing off the tape from the player in possession of the ball. As soon as this is successful in Social Tag Rugby, you need to shout: “Tag!”, and then the capture will be counted. The player who has lost his ribbon must pass the ball to his partner within three seconds, after which he receives his ribbon back and attaches it to his belt again. The player who tears off the tape steps back at least a meter from the opponent, thereby allowing him to pass the ball and reattach the tape.

When the tag is broken, the referee calls out and awards a free kick. To perform it, you need to place the ball on the ground and touch it with your foot. At this moment, the defending team must be at least five meters from the point of play. The movement can begin after the first touch has occurred.

If a player shouts “Tag” but there is no actual tackle, the referee will award a penalty kick and the defending team will be entitled to a new play. The same thing happens if the referee calls foul play.

When the fifth tackle is made, possession passes to the defending team.

Team composition and match duration

Seven people in each team take to the field, and five more remain in reserve. The number of substitutions during the match is not limited.

The Social Tag Rugby match consists of two halves of 20 minutes. The break between halves is five minutes. There are also shortened versions: halves of seven minutes with a minute break or a single 10-minute game.


Social Tag Rugby provides an easy and enjoyable introduction to the sport of rugby, particularly for youngsters and new participants. Its non-contact nature and simple regulations make it an excellent platform for learning the fundamentals of rugby in a safe and inclusive setting. Popular in Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, Social Tag Rugby promotes collaboration, sportsmanship, and friendship among participants of all ages and ability levels. Whether employed as a training tool for more advanced rugby or as a leisure activity in its own right, Social Tag Rugby fosters a love of the game and encourages active involvement.


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