Touch rugby (better known as touch or touchies) is a non-contact game played on a field 70m by 50m (3/4 of a rugby field). Emphasis is on running ability, agility and ball skills such as passing and catching. There are 14 players in a team; 6 players on the field at a time with 8 rolling substitutes. The game is extremely fast-paced as there are no stoppages which makes it exciting to watch. Both men and women play in either a mens team, a ladies team or a mixed team (both genders on the same field).
The games consist of two halves of 20 minutes each. Each team has 6 consecutive touches to try and score a try by crossing the try line without the player scoring being touched. If a try is not scored within these 6 touches, possession is handed over to the opposition team. Possession is also turned over the opposition team immediately on an error such as a ball going to ground or other penalise-able offence.
In the last 20 years, Touch has developed to the point where South Africa now has around 10 000 registered players competing in 12 leagues across 9 regions of the country. There are three “seasons” (namely, spring, summer & winter) of 10 weeks where formal matches are played every week.
Annual national tournaments are fixed features in the calendar. Players aspire to represent their province each year at the Inter-Provincial Tournament (IPT). SATA hosts both Open & Junior (15s, 17s, 18s & 21s) IPTs every year. SATA also hosts numerous tournaments throughout the year including the SA club championships, Super 6, the Knysna Cup, Summer of Touch Beach Tour and the Stilbaai tournament.
Touch rugby is played internationally according to the Federation of International Touch (FIT) rules. These are commonly known as the 6 down rules, which differs to the informal style of ‘1 touch’ most commonly known in South Africa. The rules are available below for download.