No. I'm not going to tell you where you can go to physically harass people. Instead, I'm talking about the most popular and firmly established non-contact sport for adults (according to the RFU) - Touch Rugby.
Touch rugby is the diluted, casual, more inclusive version of the game we know and love. We’re talking fewer rules, more basic skill requirements and above all no contact.
So less of this;
The rules are simple:
Mark out a pitch using any spare clothing you have - the size will depend on how much you back your fitness...
1) NO CONTACT - a tackle is made with a two handed touch on or below the waist.
2) When touched place the ball on the floor and roll it behind you with your foot.
3) Defenders must retreat 5m when a touch is made.
4) You have 6 touches to score - if 6 touches are made then it’s a turnover.
5) Any dropped balls or forward passes result in a turnover.
Here’s an example of how the pros do it.
Not only is the game much simpler to play, but you also won’t have to put up with the horror stories you’ve heard about the goings-on inside rugby clubs. No one’s going to scream “BUFFALO” in your face here for drinking with your wrong hand and then try and pull your trousers down as you force down the impossibly cold and bubbly lager you’ve literally just bought, rendering you incapable of standing up straight for the next half an hour… Or they might, but you’re under no obligation to do so here.
It’s a great way to keep fit, make some friends and, weather permitting, top up your tan (or sunburn if you’re as pasty as I am). So don’t be shy, grab your mates and a ball and get down to the park like the other sunburnt singlet-bearing stereotypes you see on the common as soon as the sun shows its face.
In London, here are the 3 best places you can take part in Touch Rugby over the summer:
Ironsides Rugby - Clapham Common
Ironsides Rugby Club run touch sessions on Tuesdays at 6.45pm and Sundays from 11.30am near to Clapham Common station (opposite Stormont Road). You’ll be able to spot them wearing green and red singlets. It’s very casual so go over and say hello, they won’t bite. You can find more information here.
Try Tag Rugby - Locations all over London
Once you’ve got the hang of the game you might want to take it a bit further and join a league with your mates. Try Tag Rugby is a more organised form of the game and will put you into a league with weekly fixtures against other Touch Rugby teams similar to your ability. A great way to develop your game and fitness regularly. To find out more information check out their website here.
O2 Touch League - Regents Park Playing Fields
O2 Touch is the initiative run by the RFU themselves in order to not just get more people into rugby but also to develop the touch game within the UK. They not only run matches but also deliver training sessions to help develop your game (for free). They run most nights so for more information on what is happening when check out their website here.
If you’re across the pond and fancy a game in New York you can find one down at New York Rugby Club where they co-run a league with Pier 40 Touch!
There are also a number of Touch Rugby Clubs so if playing a couple of casual games gives you the taste and you want to get involved at a higher level there are plenty of places to pick and choose from.
So get out, get fit, enjoy the sun and the beers will taste that much sweeter afterwards.