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Rippa Laws


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Rippa Rugby is the new game for young rugby players. It is a very safe, non-contact, easy-to-play game for both boys and girls alike. Best of all it's fun and exciting for all involved.

While the rules are simple and the game easy to learn, Rippa Rugby will promote excellent ball-handling and running skills, and give all kids a chance to participate in our national game. The New Zealand Rugby Union is proud to recommend Rippa Rugby and we are sure it will give the kids in your team a fun, safe and enjoyable sporting experience.

So get out there and give it a go, you'll have a blast!


The object of the game is to score a try by grounding the ball behind or on the opponents' try line. A try is worth five points.

To prevent a try being scored the defenders must rip the flag from the belt of the ball carrier. This forces the ball carrier to pass the ball. Six rips against the attacking team in one set of possession results in the ball being turned over to the defending team.


1.1. The playing area should be approximately 60 metres in length and approximately 30 metres in width.
1.2. The playing area should be clearly marked.
1.3. The number of players on a team will be the only people entitled to be on the playing area during a game. Coaches, substitutes and spectators must not be on the playing area during a game.
1.4. The 'try-scoring area' (in-goal area), should be five metres deep from the try line and clearly marked if possible with cones.

2.1. A game should be made up of two halves of seven minutes each. You can also have four quarters if you like.
2.2. There should be a two-minute interval between the two halves.
2.3. After half time the teams will change ends.
2.4. A half can only end at the next stoppage in play after seven minutes.
2.5. A half cannot end on a penalty. If a penalty is signaled the team awarded the penalty shall be entitled to a free pass and the game will continue until the next stoppage in play.
2.6. A rip is not a stoppage in play.

3.1. Ideally there will be ten players in each team.
3.2. Rippa Rugby is played between teams of equal numbers of players. Girls and boys can play together in Rippa Rugby.
3.3. Games are best played with seven players on the playing area at any one time.
3.4. Games are best played with three reserves.
3.5. Except in the case of injury or a sending off, every player must play at least one half or two quarters of each game.

4.1. Substitutions must be made at half time or quarter time except in the case of injury defined in 4.2.
4.2. An injured player can be substituted but only once the injured player has left the playing area. Any substitution of an injured player must be approved by the referee, and an injured player who has been substituted cannot re-join the game.
4.3. Players who are substituted at half time may re-join the game when replacing an injured player under Rule 4.2.

5.1. The referee for each match should be appointed by an agreement with both teams.
5.2. The referee should have a whistle.
5.3. The referee will shout, “PASS!” when a rip has been made, and “TURNOVER!” after a sixth rip.
5.4. The referee will blow the whistle to signal the start of the two halves or four quarters and when play is to stop.
5.5. The referee will signal to the team who is starting with a free pass by pointing with an outstretched arm towards that team.

6.1. The belt is adjusted to fit the waist of the player and fastened so that two flags hang one from each side (33cm x 5).
6.2. Velcro attaches the flags so they are positioned one on each hip.
6.3. Care needs to be taken to ensure that for safety the tail of the belt is tucked away.
6.4. Each team is distinguished by the colour of the flags they wear.
6.5. The belt must be worn outside the clothing, shirts tucked in and flags free so they can be ripped off.
6.6. If a player accidentally loses a flag when they have the ball, the game will be stopped to allow the player to replace the flag. Once the flag has been replaced the game will restart with a free pass by the player in possession. The stoppage will not count towards the rip count.

7.1. The ball carrier cannot fend defenders off using their hands, or the ball.
7.2. The ball carrier cannot guard or shield their flags in any way. A player can spin once (360) in a movement (no helicopters – more than one spin per movement).

8.1. There is no contact in Rippa Rugby. Defenders (Rippers) ripping the flag off the belt of the ball carrier stops the ball carrier’s progress.
8.2. Defenders (Rippers) cannot physically touch the ball carrier.

9.1. One team starts each half or quarter of the game from the centre of the field with a free pass.
9.2. When a try is scored, the non-scoring team starts at the centre of the field with a free pass.

10.1. To make a free pass, the player making the pass starts with the ball on the ground, moves the ball slightly forward using the side of their foot, then picks up the ball and passes the ball backwards to a member of their own team.
10.2. The Defenders (Rippers) must remain five metres back from the player making the free pass. They cannot start moving forward until the ball leaves the hands of the player making the free pass.
10.3. A free pass is also used to restart play at any time that play has halted and needs to be restarted.
10.4. If the ball travels out of the field of play, the game is restarted with a free pass to the side that was not the last side to touch it inside the field of play just inside the playing area, at the point where the ball travelled out of play.
10.5. Free passes cannot take place less than five metres from the try line.
10.6. A free pass is also awarded to the non-offending team when their opposition infringes the rules, such as a forward pass, an offside or for not returning the flag to the ripped player.

11. RIP
11.1. To complete a rip one of the two flags from the ball carrier’s belt must be removed.
11.2. The only person who can be ripped is the ball carrier.
11.3. The Defender (Ripper) must stop, hold the flag above their head and shout “RIP!”
11.4. The ball carrier must then pass the ball immediately (within three strides). He or she does not stop, return to the mark or roll the ball between their legs.
11.5. Six rips in a row leads to a turnover in possession.
11.6. After the ball carrier has passed the ball the Defender (Ripper) must hand the flag back to the player who then reattaches it to their belt before they re-join play. If either of these players doesn’t adhere to this, they will be penalized and a free pass will be awarded to the non-offending team at the place of the infringement.
11.7. If a player is ripped before the try line and doesn’t pass before they get over the line, they restart play five metres out from the try line with a free pass. (NOTE: If a player is ripped in 'the art of scoring' the try is allowed).
11.8. Restarting the rip count occurs when there is a turnover or when either team is penalised.

12.1. When a player knocks the ball towards the opponents’ try line and does not regain control of the ball before it touches the ground, another player or the referee, a free pass is awarded to the non-offending team unless an advantage can be played.

13.1. Offside only occurs at a rip.
13.2. When a rip is made, all players from the Defender’s (Ripper’s) team must get back until they are behind where the rip was made. Failure to do so, results in a free pass to the team in possession and the rip count will restart at zero.
13.3. If a player is offside and they intercept, prevent or slow down a pass, they will be penalized and a free pass will be awarded to the non-offending team, unless an advantage can be played.

14.1. The ball can only be passed the ball carrier in a backwards direction.
14.2. Attackers must not pass the ball forward; towards the Defenders’ (Rippers’) try line.
14.3. Attackers cannot hand the ball to another Attacker.
14.4. A free pass will be awarded to the opposition if an Attacker passes the ball forward or hands the ball to another Attacker.
14.5. If the ball is not caught to conclude a pass but is not knocked on, play can continue.

15.1. There is no kicking of any kind in Rippa Rugby.

16.1. Not stopping the game when an infringement happens is called ‘advantage’.
16.2. Referees should play ‘advantage’ to the non-offending team if there is any chance that they may be advantaged by there being no stoppage in play, for instance if the team gets the ball or retains the ball in circumstances that are more favourable than if a free pass was called.
16.3. The referee should call ‘advantage’ followed by ‘play on’ if an advantage is deemed by the referee to occur.
16.4. If no advantage occurs within a reasonable period play restarts with a free pass.

17.1. Subject to 17.2, if the ball carrier intentionally goes to ground or a player dives on the ball, a free pass is awarded to the opposition.
17.2. Players can dive for a try or dive on the ball for a try.

18.1. All players must play games in a positive spirit following the principles of good sportsmanship.
18.2. In instances of verbal abuse, physical abuse, poor sportsmanship, intentional offending, persistent re-offending or any other offending deemed necessary, a referee may send a player from the playing area.
18.3. If a player is sent from the playing area by the referee under 18.2 they must remain off for the remainder of that game. However, that player can be replaced by another player who has not been sent off.
18.4. There shall be no intentional physical contact between players.