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Tag rugby history

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Tag rugby is a new sport that is rapidly growing in popularity since it was first invented in the 1990s. Tag rugby is a non contact sport based upon the rules of rugby league and can be played by men, women and children.

 

The object of tag rugby is to score tries, by running with the ball with the aim of touching it on the ground behind the opponents try line. One of the most distinctive feature of tag rugby is that all players wear special tag rugby belts or tag rugby shorts which have Velcro patches, on which two ribbons are attached. In tag rugby, instead of physically tackling a player in possession of the ball, players attempt to remove a ribbon from the playerís belt or shorts in order to advance the game. Tag rugby is a non contact sport that is often played by mixed sex teams. There are no scrums in tag rugby.

 

Tag rugby was invented by an Australian professional rugby league player ĖPerry Haddock, who came up with the idea for tag rugby in 1992 when he was coaching a rugby league team to play in the Australian junior rugby league competition, the Jersey Flegg Cup. He developed tag rugby initially as an aid to develop passing and running skills in his young players.

 

He called his game Oz tag and by 1993, the game had caught on as a separate sport in itís own right. Played at first in the Sydney area, with 28 tag rugby teams playing in a local league, tag rugby quickly caught on and spread across Australia. Today tag rugby is played throughout Australia and is especially popular in Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra. Oz tag competitions regularly attract over 50,000 tag rugby players in Australia who play tag rugby in the following categories: women's teams open to any age, mixed gender teams, men's teams open to any age, men's over-30s, over 35s, and over 40s.

 

Tag rugby soon spread to New Zealand where the game became known as Kiwi tag, and after a few years of informal play, was organised by the governing body Auckland Kiwi tag Inc in 2005. The tag rugby players of the Pacific Islands come under this organisation.

 

Tag rugby was introduced to Ireland in 2000 by the Irish Tag Rugby Association ITRA working in tandem with the Irish Rugby Football Union. Tag rugby has really taken off in the republic of Ireland and has approximately 30,000 people regularly playing tag rugby - a number that has been steadily increasing since 2007.

Bruff rugby club in County Limerick has been staging tag rugby events since 2006 and run an annual tag rugby festival throughout the summer months attended by tag rugby teams from both Ireland and the UK. This culminates in a tag rugby festival called the Bull N Booze held in August.

 

Tag rugby festivals or blitzes as they are called, are a popular feature of the tag rugby calendar in the republic of Ireland. Adult tag rugby is a game with a very strong social side, especially in Ireland. Tag rugby festivals are often held at pubs and rugby clubs and are fun events where tag rugby and socialising have almost equal importance.

 

Tag rugby has not caught on in England in quite the same way or as quickly as in Ireland but the game is rising in popularity now. The Rugby Football Union, first introduced mini tag rugby to itís youth training and development programme as a childrenís game to replace touch rugby. Elsewhere tag rugby as an adult game has found pockets of popularity in the north of England and in Devon.

 

An International tag rugby event was held in Rochdale in May 2009, attracting teams from all across England Ireland Scotland and Wales. Participating tag rugby teams included a team made up of Fijians living in Rochdale and the local Asian community. The Rochdale tag rugby festival is made up of mixed gender teams of seven players and run along the same lines as an Irish blitz! The Rochdale festival is set to become an annual event and the 2010 tag rugby festival was oversubscribed before it started.

 

The first tag rugby event to be staged in London was organised by Skolars, a professional North London rugby league club who hosted a 4 team menís tag rugby competition in Finsbury Park in summer 2008, followed by a larger competition the following year.

 

However the company Try Tag rugby began running autumn and winter tag rugby competitions in 2009 throughout London which are proving to be popular and include many Australian and Kiwi players currently living in London. More competitions are planned for London venues.

 

Australia and Ireland can be seen as being the centres of tag rugby but the game is spreading and has recently begun to be played in South Africa. There is also some interest in tag rugby in the USA where it is known as flag football, but the game has a way to go yet before it is recognised in Europe and at the moment remains a niche sport. Tag rugby is still a very new sport but perhaps it will be played on a global level in the not so distant future.