Flag Rugby

For a brief overview of flag rugby, be sure to check out the IRB's "A Beginner's Guide to Rugby Union" - Modified Rugby, a Game for All

The online guide features an overview of rugby's variations and small-sided games.


·       Equal sides of not more than a maximum of 7 players.

·       Substitutes allowed, but only when play is stopped.

Scoring (Try = 1 points)

·       Placing the ball, with downward pressure, on or behind the opponent's goal line.

·       Ball carrier must remain on his/her feet when scoring.

·       As soon as a player has crossed the goal line they must be allowed to score the try.

·       Scoring by diving is not allowed

·       Ball carrier is allowed one-step to score a try after being flagged.

·       Try scored on 5th flag will be disallowed and free pass awarded to defending side 7-metres out from goal line

Length of Game

·      Minimum 7 minutes to a maximum of 15 each half.


·       A Flag must be 38cm x 3.5cm.

·       Two flags attached with Velcro to a belt worn around the waist – one flag on each hip.

·       The flag must be attached with a fold “ a dog’s ear”

·       Flag belt must be secure and excess belt tucked away.

·       Flags must be available and unobstructed – shirts tucked into shorts.

·       Any players without both flags cannot impact on the play – if a player without both flags impacts on the play (either by flagging the ball carrier or by receiving a pass), then a penalty is awarded resulting in free pass to non-offending side.

Starting the Game and Restarts

·       Play starts with a kick from the hand at the centre, beginning of each half and after each try (graduate to a drop kick)

·       The team that scored or lost the toss at the start of the game is to kick to the apposing side and is to be uncontested

·       The kicking team will not cross the half to defend until the receiving team has possession of the ball.

Free pass and Kick – how?

Free Pass

·       Opposition must be 7-metres back.

·       Opposition cannot move until ball has left the free passer’s hands.

·       Player taking the free pass cannot run, but must pass.

·       Player taking the free pass must pass the ball to the first person either side of them.

·       Referee calls “PLAY”.


·       Must be made from the centre and the kicker will kick from the hand (to graduate to a drop kick for U10s next season)

·       The kick is to be uncontested

Free pass & Kick – when?

Free Pass

·       Restart from a penalty (at referee’s mark).

·       Restart from ball into touch (at touchline at the point where ball went into touch).

·       When the attacking side loses possession after the 5th flag


·       At the beginning of each half and after each try is scored (at centre)


·       Defender (flagger) removes the flag, shouts “FLAG”, then stands still holding flag aloft (until flagee retrieves the flag)

·       Flagger must not move or rejoin play until the flag is given back.

·       Referee shouts “FLAG!…PASS!”.

·       Play does not stop!

·       Ball carrier (flagee) must stop running and pass the ball within 3-secs/3-steps – flagee must not rejoin play until his/her flag is retrieved.

·       If a player/s does not pass the ball within 3-sec/3 steps then they are liable for a penalty and a change of possession.

·       Flagee, having passed the ball, retrieves his/her flag from the flagger and reattaches flag.

·       Both players may now rejoin play.

·       Free pass to defending side on the 5th flag 


·       The ball can only be passed backwards or sideways through the air.

·       The ball cannot be handed off to another player – free pass to non-offending side.

·       The ball cannot be passed/knocked forward – free pass to non-offending side.

·       Play advantage if other team picks up

knock-ons or intercepts forward passes.


·       The offside line is an imaginary line through centre of the ball and parallel to goal line.

·       The offside line only occurs at the time of the FLAG and at the start of play from a free pass.

·       Generally, there is no offside when the ball is in play….with the following exception:

·       When a FLAG is made all players from defending team must attempt to retire towards their own goal line until cross the imaginary offside line onto their side of the offside line…they cannot impact on play (i.e. intercept or FLAG a player) until they get on-side.

·       If player in an offside position interferes with the pass from the flagged player, then free pass to the attacking team.

Prohibited play – penalty, free pass to non-offending team

·       Players must not make deliberate contact with an opponent (but must make every effort to avoid the opponent).

·       No fending off – ball carrier must not use hand or ball to shield his/her flags.

·       A player must not spin to shield their flags

·       No hand off - ball carrier must not use hand or ball against opposing player’s face or body.

·       No kicking the ball (kicking is allowed only at start of game and after try is scored)

·       No tackling.

·       No going to ground.

·       No ripping the ball.

·       No handing off the ball.


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