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There are several variants of the traditional 15-a-side game, all of which are enjoyed worldwide.

Ranging from the non-contact forms of rugby such as beach rugby, touch & tag to the full contact rugby sevens, Tens, and veterans, these variations are great for those who flinch at the sight of a scrum but enjoy the incomparable buzz of scoring a try.

There is no limit to the level you can reach either; these variants are represented at international level.

England have highly successful men’s and women’s Rugby Sevens sides, who compete all over the planet in tournaments, demonstrating key skills that are important for progression towards the full England first teams.

The preconception that these different forms of the game are just for children couldn’t be further from the truth: even the pros are quite partial to a game of touch or tag rugby during training sessions. Rugby truly is a game to be enjoyed by all.

During the course of an 80-minute match, two sides of 15 players and six substitutes, officiated by a referee and two touch judges, try to outscore each other. The game lasts for two 40-minute halves on a grass pitch with an H-shaped goal post at each end.

Tens rugby is a variation of rugby union and rugby sevens, with both sides having 10 players, comprised of five forwards and five backs.

Basic Rules

  • Five forwards and five backs
  • Full contact rules apply
  • 10-minute halves are played

This version of the game does incorporate full contact so it isn’t for the faint-hearted, but with fewer players on the pitch, there is also more space for players to run into. This in turn gives players more time to pick out killer passes. It is slightly slower than sevens as the pitch is that little bit more congested.

Traditionally, sevens was considered a bit of fun to wind down the season. Nowadays, however, it is seen as an extension to the season with more and more sevens activities taking place.

Sevens is viewed as an important stage in the development of future England internationals. It truly is a global sport with a huge worldwide following.

Basic Rules

  • Seven-a-side contact rugby
  • Three-man scrums (instead of eight)
  • Tournaments generally held in the summer months
  • Seven-minute halves, one-minute half-time
  • Recognised at international level

The key factor in sevens is that, as the name cleverly suggests, there are only seven players in each team. This means more ground for each person to cover, but also more possession of the ball for each player.

IMixed Ability is a worldwide movement spearheaded by International Mixed Ability Sports (IMAS). IMAS has its roots in Bradford, home to the first English Mixed Ability rugby team. IMAS works to spread the idea of Mixed Ability around the rugby world and transfer it to other sports.

It is not a disability team, players are not classified by physical, intellectual or mental disabilities or barriers. It is a team open to anyone who wants to play regular full contact rugby. If you happen to have some form of disability or barrier but want to play regular rugby, then you are more than welcome. The same goes if you have no disability or barrier. Games are played in true rugby spirit

A new format of rugby, which is big on enjoyment, and low on commitment. It’s a quicker game, with fewer players which can be played almost anywhere.  It is contact rugby but not as you know it!
Whether you’ve never played before, or you’re getting back into things, XRugby7s is the game for you.

You can get involved in two simple ways – by signing up, or just turning up. Either way, we’ll show you the ropes and you’ll meet a load of new friends looking to do the same thing. Alternatively, if you’ve played before and want to play as a team, you can enter a team into a league.

Some things you need to know:

  • XRugby7s is played on half a standard pitch
  • There is a reduced intensity of contact
  • The format includes new features such as the Max Zone – extra points for scoring in the middle of the pitch (swan-dive optional).

Touch rugby is the most popular and firmly established non-contact sport for adults, while also being enjoyed by children of all ages and skill levels.

Touch appeals to sports enthusiasts and those looking for an alternative way of keeping fit through a fun game, which needs only a ball and a few jumpers for corner flags.

Basic rules

  • Non-contact, removing elements such as scrums, rucks, mauls, lineouts and kicks
  • Tackles are replaced by touches
  • Touch rugby is often played informally
  • One common variation is that a fair touch must be below the waist
  • Very little equipment is required to play

Age inevitably takes it toll on the bodies of even the most hardened rugby players, but the passion and desire to play still lives on. Veterans rugby is a modified version of the game that provides an excuse to go out and get some fresh air before enjoying a quiet pint or two after a game.

Basic rules

  • Uncontested scrums
  • Games should be 15-a-side
  • Rolling substitutions
  • Aggressive play is not encouraged
  • Not to be taken too seriously

Primarily the veterans game is enjoyed by players who are older than 35. The Golden Oldies should be 50 and above.

Tag rugby is a non-contact, fast-moving game that is suitable for adults or children, and for boys and girls to play together.

Its safe, non-contact nature, combined with the fun and liveliness of the sport, means that tag rugby is now the RFU’s official version of the game for under 7s and under 8s.

Basic rules

  • No contact, but gumshield advisable
  • No kicking of any kind
  • When a tag is made, the tagger stops running, holds the tag above their head and shouts “TAG!”
  • When the ball-carrier is tagged, the ball must be passed to a teammate within three seconds
  • Competitive matches should not be more than seven a side

The use of a either a tag belt or tag shorts replicates a tackle and is clearly seen when an effective tag has been made. Teams are seven-a-side with a preferred gender mix of at least three men and women playing at one time. (Teams can choose the gender of the seventh player.)

What rugby enthusiast could turn down the proposition of sun, sea, sand and rugby?

The interchangeable nature of possession, leading to rapid changes from attacking to defending, means that the game involves developing and improving a wide range of skills. Cooperation, teamwork and a keen sense of fun are all key elements in beach tag rugby.

The game is a fast-moving one suitable for boys and girls of all ages to play together, in which a tackle is replaced by a tag. The game is fun, fast-paced and exciting, but because it is played on sand there are some differences to the conventional game of tag rugby.

  • Can be played as a five- or seven-a-side game
  • Both genders, all abilities and all ages welcome
  • Common to use a size 4 ball rather than the traditional size 5
  • Non-contact, tag rugby rules apply
  • No shoes or socks

Seaside clubs have traditionally used the beaches for preseason training. Clubs are encouraged to run sessions and mini round-robin festivals to engage the local community and visiting holidaymakers.