Touch Rugby Rules

UpdatedWednesday November 17, 2021 byCJRA.

CJRA Touch Rugby Rules


Touch Rugby does not have a lot of rules. Players learn the basics quickly and can then start to develop team attacking and defending strategies. Touch Rugby promotes a number of physical skills, but more importantly, enhances important interpersonal skills, such as leadership, respect and teamwork.
There are a number of rule variations for Touch Rugby.  In an effort to have all of our teams be on the same page and to promote better team dynamics, pace of game and ensure everyone gets the ball, CJRA has developed the following rules.  Players, parents, coaches and supporters will find referring to these rules helpful in learning terms, tactics and rules to the game.

What you need to play

  • Two teams – 7 players on each
  • Referee
  • Size 4 rugby ball
  • Vests or Team Shirts/ Uniforms
  • Cones to mark the field (there are no set dimensions for touch rugby field. It also can be played in the gym), or a lined field.
  • Suitable clothing and footwear


  • A game is 20 minutes long, divided into two 10 minute halves with a 2 minute break between halves.
  • The game clock runs continuously and is only stopped by the referee for an injury or previously agreed to substitution time out.
  • When asked, the referee will give coaches time cues during a match (i.e., “one minute left coach”)


  • “Rolling Substitutions” are preferred.  The coach on the sideline calls one player out while calling another in, preferably players away from the current action on the field.  Immediately after an out of bounds change of possession is a good time to do this.
  • Pre-arranged substitutions.  Coaches with larger teams, may speak to the referee about a quick stoppage to substitute players at the 5 minute marks in each half of a match ensuring players get equal playing time.



Object of the Game

To score a try (1 point) by forcing the ball onto the ground in the in-goal or “try zone” area.  The team with the most points at the end of a game is the winner.  Ties are possible except in a championship match.  In the event of a tie in a championship match, the first team to score in overtime wins. 


Players can only pass the ball laterally/ backwards in all forms of rugby.

Screens/ Blocks

When a player receives a pass, it is important that they are moving forward. If the ball carrier runs backwards or sideways, they run the risk of going behind their own teammates.  This creates a screen, which is not allowed.  Likewise, other players on the ball carrier’s team should try to stay behind the ball carrier.  Getting ahead of the ball carrier and blocking the defending team is not allowed.  Screens and Blocks are called at the referee’s discretion.  In the interest of continuous play, inadvertent actions will not usually be called.

Play the Ball

A defending player can stop an attacking player’s progress only by touching him with two hands.  A one handed touch will result in the referee saying “play on” and play continues.  When it is a good two hand touch, the referee will say “touch”.

After the ball carrier is touched, she should come to a stop, place the ball down on the ground, and then step over it.  This is called “play the ball”.  An attempt should be made to place the ball as close to where the touch was made as possible.

A team may only have a maximum of 7 play the balls per possession to score.   On the 8th play the ball, the attacking team will turn the ball over to the opposition.

The defending player may not touch with extreme force, or touch in the area of the neck, head or privates.  The referee will give warnings to players who touch too hard or too often above the shoulders.


Scrum Half

After the touched player has played the ball another player from the attacking team (scrum half) will then run up and put the ball back in play by:

  1. Running forward with the ball to continue play.  If the player chooses this option, she must pass the ball or score before touched or it is a turnover.
  2. Passing the ball to a teammate other than the one who was just touched.

The defensive team must wait to move forward until after the ball has been passed or advanced by the scrum half.


When a two hand touch is made it creates an offside line across the field. The defending team must, as a unit, retreat back 5 yards to where the referee will be standing.  There, the defending team has to wait until the ball is advanced or passed by the attacking team before they can move forward.  If A defending player does not retreat to the referee or advances too early, their touch on any attacking player will not count and the referee will say “play on”.

Change of Possession

The attacking team will lose possession of the ball after the following:

  1. A dropped pass in any direction
  2. A forward pass
  3. Going out of bounds
  4. After scoring a try
  5. On the 8th play the ball on a single possession without scoring
  6. Scrum half running being touched before making a pass or scoring
  7. At the referees discretion for dangerous and/ or unsportsmanlike play

Other Notes

To start or restart the game a player must tap the ball on their foot and can choose to run or pass the ball. A restart after a try or to start a half, the ball must be tapped at mid-field.  If team “A” starts the game with possession of the ball, team “B” starts the second half with possession. 

When the ball goes out of bounds, the referee will place it one yard in bounds close to where it went out and give possession to the previously defending team and the player with the ball will tap the ball and advance to restart the game.  The team that lost possession then moves 5 yards back, just as if a touch had been made, and gets ready to defend.

Each coach will designate a team captain, this can be for the season or different from game to game.  Only the captains on the field and coaches can talk to the referee.  This ensures good game pace and reduces arguing and is part of the game of rugby at all levels.

Why No Kicking?

While kicking the ball is very much a part of tackle rugby, it is not part of CJRA elementary school age, two hand touch rugby.  As an organization, we believe in the incremental approach to teaching.  Focusing players on the basics of spacing, running, evading, making an organized attack and making good passes and playing good defense are our goals at his level.  We feel that once kids have a solid foundation from touch rugby, is the best time to add other aspects of the game at the next level. 

As an example, our CJRA middle school tackle teams learn kicking, mauling, rucking and rudimentary line-out play.  But even at that next level, we use uncontested scrums and no-lift line-outs.  They will add that to their skill set at the high school or travel club team level.

Adding skills and working with the kids to master them at each level before moving onto the next level and set of skills is our philosophy.