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What is Tag Rugby? – Q&A with Keith Miller

Keith Miller, Tag Rugby ACT Coordinator.

Tag Rugby ACT have competitions every year for juniors, opens mixed and men in Canberra, but with popular rivalries of League Tag and OzTag, it’s hard to understand what the difference between the sports are.

I spoke to Keith Miller, the coordinator of Tag Rugby ACT to get an understanding of what Tag Rugby actually is. As someone who has played other forms of tag, I was curious to hear what makes Tag Rugby so different and enjoyable.

As Keith explains, Tag Rugby caters for juniors and seniors and it combines the rules and foundations of Rugby League and Rugby Union which increases the playing ability of younger kids and gives adults the opportunity to take place in a non-contact sport.

Played on a 50-metre by 70-metre field, Tag Rugby offers a much faster-paced game with just seven players on the field at once and it replaces the contact of tackling, with defenders removing at least one of two velcro tags which are placed on the hips of players.


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A post shared by keith Miller (@tag_rugby_act)

Q. How has tag rugby developed over the years?

A. Tag rugby started really small, I guess like every kind of sport, you can’t expect to have a thousand people on day one. We started really small, we ran a little comp which went for about four weeks, and we probably had about six teams, and that was mixed and men’s. Then about two years in we introduced juniors, and that was probably the best thing we have ever done because junior’s sell out almost every year.

We only run juniors in summer because we’re a very seasonal sport, most kids play rugby league or union, or AFL during the off-season, so we’re very seasonal with our summer junior comp, and the same can be said about our winter comp with our senior’s. But we’re just growing and growing every year and we grow by word of mouth. People say how good it is, how much they like it, and how much they enjoy it and then it just brings more teams every time.

Q. What are the social aspects of Tag Rugby for juniors and seniors?

A. Starting with seniors, because I’m a senior, we focus on having fun, we have our A-grades, and most of the people in them know each other, but in all the other divisions it’s about getting on the field, playing some competitive footy, but having fun at the same time. As a referee/official, I’ve got no problems contacting a team or going to a team after a game and saying, “Hey guys I know you’re serious about playing, but you don’t have to be bad sports about it, we’re all here to have fun.” So, that’s the best social aspect we have in seniors.

With juniors, you put a ball in a kid’s hand, and they love it, they get to play with their mates, but not only that, they get to make a whole lot of new friends as well. We do a representative scene, but we merge into partnering with other rugby affiliations. Some of the kids that just play for fun during the week on a Tuesday night, they come away and do our reps, and they make lifelong friends. They might not see them every week, but it’s one thing they look forward to when coming to tag, seeing their mates that they met when they were down in Melbourne or Gold Coast, or wherever we go that year.

We also like to talk to the parents a lot, so we walk around during [and after] the games and go ask parents how their kids are going. Both my brother and I have dressed as Santa at Christmas time, we’ve done Halloween where we gave away almost a thousand dollars worth of lollies because a Tag night fell on Halloween, and we’ve done pool parties and stuff, so there are lots of different social aspects of Tag Rugby.


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A post shared by keith Miller (@tag_rugby_act)

Q. What makes Tag Rugby different from the other types of tag, like League Tag and Oz Tag? What makes it so special and fun that people want to play it?

A. I think, as I said before with the off-season part of it, Tag Rugby has much more of an affiliation with rugby league and rugby union and even AFL. We don’t restrict it to only kicking on the fourth and fifth tag, we don’t restrict it to no kicking above head height, so there are many different aspects. The game also gets a bit quicker because there is a quick throw-in, and there’s a 20/20 restart after tries are scored just gets the game flowing a lot better than other forms of tag.

We find as well with seven people on the field, which is another difference, that in other sports some kids will hide on the wing and not get seen, whereas in Tag Rugby they can’t do that, and the parents love that. They have their kid who wants to play, but they never get pushed in the field far enough, and in Tag Rugby, you can’t hide, you’re always doing something.

Q. You have the centre box in the goal line where you get more points if you put the ball down in that area. Is that something that players find fun as well?

A. Yeah, with the centre box it makes people back up, when someone runs through to make a break the teammates know they’ve got to run through and help them out, but also the defenders know they have to run back and keep them out. It’s the whole thing of keeping on your toes, not just a try where you don’t have to do anything, and it makes everyone go that little bit faster.


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A post shared by keith Miller (@tag_rugby_act)

Q. How does someone get involved in Tag Rugby?

A. We mainly promote Tag Rugby through our Facebook page. Sometimes we put some signs up here and there, but we mainly promote our competitions through Facebook. When the seasonal times start, the start of March and the start of October we advertise our competitions then, and we get all our teams entered. We also have a website so people can go there and register their teams or if they’re single players.

Q. If someone wants to play Tag Rugby, but doesn’t have a team, is there some way they can register and play as well?

A. Yes definitely, with the seniors it’s a little bit harder to place individual players, but normally myself, my brother, and another friend have teams in [the competition] so when we get senior individual players entering, we normally put them in our team. It’s actually really good because they get to learn the game properly rather than going on to a team and feeling excluded.

With juniors, we normally make a few teams with individual players, especially under 8’s and under 10’s. When they get a bit older in the 14’s and 16’s they seem to have little clucky groups, so the juniors are normally a bit easier. I also have a 9-year-old and a 7-year-old myself, so I want to put their teams in, and I’m always looking for new players on that team as well.


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A post shared by keith Miller (@tag_rugby_act)

It’s clear that Tag Rugby ACT goes out of their way to make the sport social and fun for everyone, offering social events on Halloween and Christmas, and occasional events after games to get everyone involved and socialising. After interviewing Keith I was eager to play.

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