Tag Rugby SA gaining ground

An initative aimed at developing our rugby players’s skills is beginning to take off in a few of Cape Town’s Southern Suburb schools.

Tag Rugby is a variation of one-touch that is focused on the development of correct running lines that are utilised in the full 15-man game. It is currently used as a training programme for top sides in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, where it is called ‘Ripper Rugby’.

The purpose of the game is to avoid contact, so you are always running into space and using your peripheral vision. In these ways, Tag Rugby has the advantage over one-touch, which caters for the faster guys who run around their opponents, and six-down, which encourages contact in setting up the subsequent phases.

Tag Rugby SA has been trying to sell the game to Saru with the intention of implementing the structures into our senior provincial and national teams. So far, Saru has turned down the initiative, and so Tag has resorted to pushing the game at the grass roots.

“We have been pitching the idea to Saru for some time with no luck,” said Rob McConnell, the director of Tag Rugby SA. “It’s a shame, as this is exactly the type of thing [running the correct lines] our top players don’t do very well.”

Brendan Fogarty, the rugby coach at Bishops Prepatory has seen the benefits the game has brought to his own school.

“It’s great as it gives all young kids the opportunity play,” he said. “There are a few people who think that it is just a softer version of the game, but the truth is it teaches kids that rugby is not just about bashing into each other. For some youngsters, it takes the fear out of tackling, and so they are not put off by the game and we don’t lose any potential rugby players.”

By staging various festivals and clinics throughout the Cape, including rural areas in the Boland and disadvantaged communities like Khayelitsha, Tag are taking rugby out to the people and giving the game more exposure.

Since the game is relatively easy to pick up, it would be possible to stage a festival that included schools from both privileged and disadvantaged communities. In that way, talent from the latter may be scouted at a younger age, and eventually the ideal of transformation based on merit could become more of a reality.


- All Players wear a tag rugby belt, which is a belt with two ribbons attached by velcro.
- A “tackle” is made when one or both of the ribbons are removed from the belt.
- Once a player is “tackled”, he or she must pass the ball.
- Once the ball is passed, the tackler must hand the ribbon back to the tackled player before either of them can rejoin the game.
- A tackled player may only rejoin play once he or she has both ribbons attached.
- After a specified number of “tackles”, possession is handed to the other team.
- Apart from the different method of “tackling”, all standard rugby rules apply, although kicking is not allowed and scrums and lineouts are optional although not advised for beginners as it will effect the flow of the game.

By Jon Cardinelli