Throughout the current competition and any subsequent competitions, Bath Touch Leagues will, each week, introduce a rule that everyone is to pay particular attention to.  This is in the hope that all teams eventually eliminate making basic errors, in order to tighten up and speed up matches.  The refs will be paying close attention to these as we go throughout the season.

(1) The Tap

  • Begin with the ball on the ground (hands off!);
  • Tap the ball with your with foot (ball to move no more than a metre; ball does not even need to move at all);
  • Pick ball up (this can be the tapper, or someone else).

(2) Subbing

  • When you're off the pitch, stay in between the 10-metre lines around the centre of the pitch;
  • Make sure your mate is off the field before you go on;
  • When coming on, make sure you do not interfere with play if you're offside.
Infringing this rule results in a penalty, either at the position where the infringing player came on, or where the infringing player went off, whichever is of greater advantage to the opposition. (This can therefore be a huge disadvantage!)

(3) Offside

  • At a tap (whether for a penalty or a restart) or a roll, defending players need to be onside before continuing with play.
  • While you're retreating to get onside, you must:
    • move in a straight line - if you change direction before you get onside, you may be penalised for deviation,
    • not interfere with play - this will definitely get you penalised.
  • Once you're onside, you must not advance until:
    • the dummy half has touched the ball; or
    • the tapper has tapped the ball; or
    • the ref tells you you can advance.
  • If the ball carrier effects a touch on a retreating offside player, then the touch counts as if the player had been onside (and note that this will result in a turnover if the ball carrier is dummy half).
Infringing any of these rules will result in a penalty.

(4) Heavy Touch

  • All players, both defending and attacking, "are to use the minimum force necessary to effect touches". [Quote is from Rule 10 - The Touch.]
  • It is not enough to say that heavy touches are not deliberate: it is down to the players involved to make sure that touches are not too heavy.
  • The result of a heavy touch could be any of the following:
    • A warning on the run.  You can expect to get at most one of these.
    • A penalty.
    • The player concerned sent off for a period of time.
    • The player concerned sent off for the remainder of the game (note that this will almost certainly also result in a ban for the next game).

(5) Wearing of Jewellery and Boots with Metal Studs

  • The main idea behind this is simply to avoid injury.  So do think of this when considering whether to take your jewellery off before the game.  Secondly, fragile jewellery (necklaces, etc) could easily be damaged by a touch, so do take this into account as well.
    • Plain rings (wedding rings, for example) are almost certainly fine, but massive diamonds could easily take an eye out, so be careful!
    • Watches, and other items that are easily removed, must be removed.
    • Glasses, including sunglasses (more relevant in the summer league, obviously) are fine.
    • No screw-in studs [Rule 3.3 of the full rules].

(6) Drop-Offs (i.e. Extra Time)

Each team drops one player immediately. The team who originally won the toss taps off again from the centre of the pitch, with no change of direction, and play continues.
  • If the team that taps off doesn’t score with their first possession, then the team that scores next wins.
  • If the team that taps off does score with their first possession, and the other team doesn’t score with their next possession, then the team that scored wins at the end of that possession.
  • If the team that taps off does score with their first possession, and the other team also scores with their next possession, then the next try after that wins.
Every two minutes, each team drops one more player, until one team reaches three players. So if a team starts the drop-off with, say, four players, then they will immediately drop down to three, and their opponents will drop down to five players, and then no more players will be dropped by either team.

Note that each team is entitled to possession once during the whole drop-off, not once during each period of two minutes.


Going for an intercept can be dangerous: if you’re defending during a drop-off, then attempting an intercept, and touching the ball at all, counts as possession, even if you immediately fumble the ball to ground, and give it back to your opposition. In a drop-off situation, this may clinch the game!

One side-effect of this is that a defending team can deliberately knock the ball to ground, and end the game in their favour. Some people may think this seems unfair: in normal play (that is, not in extra time) the advantage would be given to the other team.
  Details below:


A team taps off in extra time and scores a touchdown. The other team then taps off and whilst attempting to score has the ball knocked to the ground (either deliberate knocked down or an attempt to intercept). Does this constitute as possession to the defending team and therefore a loss of possession to the attacking team thus ending the game.


Yes as the team had possession and subsequently lost it.

(7) Phantom Touches

  • You can only claim a touch if you've actually made it. Because of the nature of a touch, we depend massively on honesty here - any claimed touch will be acknowledged unless the ref can see it's blatantly not been made.
  • Light touches (where the ball carrier cannot reasonably be expected to feel the touch, and passes the ball or runs on) should be acknowledged, but not penalized (for touch and pass, for example).
  • False claims should be penalized - a penalty at the least (and potentially a penalty touchdown, depending on the circumstances) and possibly a sin bin.
  • (The defender) Pulling out of a touch is fine except for one situation:
    • That one situation is where you have to advance off your own line.  In this scenario the defence must keep advancing until a touch is made and pulling out of a touch would be considered a breach of this rule.
    • However, this behaviour whould be discouraged, especially at social touch level, as unsporting and contrary to the spirit of the game.