Origin of the sport
Touch Rugby began as a social game and training tool for Rugby League in Australia in the mid-1960s and the first formal Touch Rugby tournament took place in Sydney in 1968. The game later spread to New Zealand before expanding to the Pacific island nations and onto Europe. The FIT (Federation for International Touch) was formed in 1985 and now boasts more than 50 playing nations. The pinnacle of the sport is the quadrennial FIT World Cup tournament.
How it Works
Each game comprises two 15 or 20-minute halves with a three-minute break for half-time. Played on a 70mx50m pitch the objective is to score a touchdown, which is worth one point. The team with the most points at the end of each game wins. The basics of the sport are similar to Rugby League in that the ball is passed backwards and each team has six tackles in which to score a try before the ball is handed over to the opposition. A legal touch can be made by touching any part of the body, clothing or ball.
Format at World Masters Games 2017
The six-a-side competition has a range of grades. Masters men can compete in the over 30, 35, 40, 45, 50 and 55 divisions. Meanwhile, the women compete in the over 27, 35 and 40 age brackets. Mixed competitions (male and female) also take place for over 35 men and woman and a Mixed Seniors tournament in which women over 27 and men over 30 are eligible.
Expected number of competitors – 1000
Kiwi Hero – Peter Walters
Also known as “Mr Touch” Peter Walters is quite simply an icon of the sport. Making his New Zealand representative debut in 1986, the Auckland-based player boasts a glittering CV. With a record-breaking 109 international caps for his country, the 54-year-old has appeared in the past seven World Cups and he has been a part of three triumphant Kiwi teams at the sport’s premier event; 1999 (Senior Mixed 30s), 2007 (Senior Mixed 30s) and 2011 (Senior Men’s 40s). He also played and co-coached the winning team in the Senior Mixed 30 grade at the 2009 World Masters Games in Sydney. He fully intends to play at the 2017 World Masters Games in Auckland, where he hopes to feature in the Senior Mixed 30s and Men’s Over 40s divisions.
See him in action (# 1) with the Senior Men's 40's below.
Did you know?
All Black coach Steve Hansen played Touch Rugby for the NZ men’s open team back in the mid-1980s.
How to Get Involved