Tag rugby is an inclusive, minimal contact, shortened version of Rugby League, with up to seven players per side. All players are required to wear tag shorts with two ‘tags’ attached via Velcro, one on either side. Using rules adapted from Rugby League, attacking players dodge, evade and pass a rugby ball, while defenders attempt to prevent them scoring by “tagging” – pulling the Velcro-attached tag from – the ball carrier.

The following terms and gameplay rules apply generally to tag rugby in Hong Kong. Additional rules may be implemented for individual tournaments. Please refer to the tournament welcome pack.

Glossary of terms (alphabetical order)

ADVANTAGE – Is to allow play to proceed to the team which has not committed an offence or infringement.

ATTACKER – Is a member of the attacking team.

CHANGEOVER – Is the surrendering of the ball to the opposing team.

DEFENDER – Is a member of the defending team.

DEFENDING TEAM – Is the team without possession of the ball.

DUMMY-HALF – Is the attacking player who takes up position immediately behind the ball player during the play-the-ball.

FORWARD PASS – Passing the ball forward towards the opponents try line.

GROUNDING THE BALL – Placing the ball with downward pressure on or over the opponents try line with hand, hands, wrist or forearm.

KNOCK-ON – Propel the ball forwards with hand or arm towards opponents try line.

KNOCK-BACK – Propel the ball backwards with hand or arm towards own try line.

LATE TAG – Is when a tag is taken off the ball carrier after they have passed or kicked the ball.

MARKER – Is the defending play who stands immediately and directly opposite the all player during the play-the-ball.

OFF-SIDE – A defending player not back the required distance out an attacking player in front of the player in possession.

PLAY-THE-BALL – When the ball player uses the sole of the foot to propel the ball behind him/her.

TAG – The removal of the tag from the ball carrier.

Playing The Game
  1. Maximum of seven players per team on the field-of-play. Squads sizes of 12.
  2. Mixed teams must have at least three girls on the field-of-play at all times.
  3. The objective of the game is to ground the ball over the opponents try line to score tries. The player in possession of the ball may run, kick or pass the ball attempting to get further downfield to cross the opponents line. It is the objective of the team without the ball to prevent this by removing a “tag” from the ball carrier.
  4. The attacking team has six “plays” or “tags” to try and score a try. After six “tags” a changeover occurs and the defending team become the attacking team.
  5. Tag is a minimal contact game. Accidental contact will occur but purposeful contact should be avoided.
  6. A girl must kick-off after a try has been scored, the ball must travel forward ten meters. This rule does not apply to the men’s only competition.
  1. One point for a try. In mixed games if a female scores it’s two points.
  2. The game is won by the team who scores the most points.
  3. A try is scored when the ball is grounded on or over the try line.
  4. The referee can award a penalty try when in their opinion a try may have been scored subject to an infringement or foul play by an opponent.
  1. Defender must remove one or both tags to stop attackers progress. He/she then holds up the tag and drops it to the ground where the tag was removed and assumes a marker position.
  2. When tagged the attacker must retreat to where the tag was removed, play-the-ball and then replace his/her tag(s).
  3. Defense (all defending players except the marker) must move back 7 meters from where the “tag” was made.
  4. Defense (including marker) must not move until the dummy-half touches the ball. The dummy-half has three seconds to play the ball.
  5. A player can defend with two, one or no tags.
  1. Attackers can only progress the ball when they have two tags on, unless advantage is being played due to a late or pre tag.
  2. When an attacker has been tagged they must retreat to where the tag was removed. Another member of the attacking team will take up a position directly behind the ball player and assume the dummy-half position.
  3. An attacking player cannot protect their tags with the ball, their arms or legs.
  4. The dummy-half can score and there is no penalty for him/her being tagged.
  1. The attacking team can kick on any tackle. The kick must not go over the referee’s shoulder off the boot. If the ball bounces first it can go over shoulder height.
  2. Kick-off is from the center of the halfway line.
  3. Kick-off. The ball must bounce within the field of play before going over the touch or try line.
  4. Kick-off. If the ball bounces over the touch line, a changeover is awarded to the receiving team, ten meters in from where the ball crossed the line.
  5. Kick-off. If the ball bounces and crosses over the oppositions try line play will restart with a dropout from the center of the try line.
Knock-on and knock-back
  1. If a player propels the ball in a forward direction with their hand or arm and the ball comes into contact with the ground, an opponent or the referee, a knock-on will be ruled. A changeover will be awarded to the non-offending team. The referee may allow the non-offending team to collect the ball and gain an advantage.
  2. if an attacking player propels the ball in a backward direction play will continue.
Out of bounds
  1. If the ball bounces over the touchline, a change over is awarded to the receiving team, ten meters in from the touchline where the ball crossed the line.
  2. If the ball carrier accidentally or deliberately crosses the touchline before their tag is removed, a change over is awarded to the defending team ten metres in from where the ball carrier crossed the touchline.
Safety and additional rules
  • All players must tuck their shirts onto their shorts.
  • Players must wear wear pocketless shorts or shorts with pockets that can be zipped up.
  • Jumping to avoid being tagged it’s not allowed.
  • No player from the team that kicks off may dive on the ball from any kick.
  • If a player is reaching for a ball on the ground, the opposing team may not under any circumstance kick the ball out of their hands.
  • Swan dives are not allowed at any time. A player may dive over the line in an attempt to score a try, provided that his/her knees do not hit the ground before the try line and provided that his/she avoids all contact with defensive players.
  • A player must not touch his/her tags whilst in possession of the ball. This will be called as a tag.
  • The dummy half may pass or kick the ball whilst only wearing one tag, as long as they take no more than one step. More than one step and this will be called as a tag – the player must retreat to their initial dummy half position.

More information

You can download the PDF version of the Basic rules here.