When ‘EuroTag’ became X-League (‘Cross-League’) the rules were re-written
X-League : Rugby League Rules
These rules are a re-write of the previous rules that were developed by the
EuroTag/Tag the Ball Steering Group to promote the game of Rugby League,.
‘X-League’ can be seen as a pathway game into the 13-a-side full tackle game, but also, an inclusive social variant of the game aimed at a broader participation demographic. Across age ranges, genders, fitness levels, physical abilities and levels of experience.
1. ETHOS OF THE GAME
‘X-League’ can vary in its intensity from a social version of Rugby League, similar to Masters RL, to a training game that is close to being a full-contact version of the game.
The aim of ‘X-League’ is to provide an environment in which to play a semi-contact version of Rugby League, which enables specific RL skills to be practiced whilst maintaining a lower risk of injury.
A ‘tackle’ is made when a defender places a hand on the ball that is in the
possession of an opponent.
Standard games in a competition setting are to run for 13 minutes in total (no half time). This can be flexible and changed by agreement of the teams.
3. IN-GAME POINTS
3.1. Scoring is (in most cases) only by tries. 1 point per try
3.2. A try is scored by placing the ball down over the opponents try line without the ball being touched. Or by touching both feet into the in-goal area before the ball has been touched by a defender.
‘X-League’ must always be considered as only a semi-contact version of Rugby League.
Whilst ‘Fending-off’ a defender is permitted, a fend-off to the face or neck (above shoulder) is not, and should be penalised. Also, whilst a defender can grab onto the ball carrier in order to enable them to get a touch on the ball, defenders must not attempt to make a ‘full’ tackle that brings the ball carrier to the ground.
5. THE TACKLE
5.1. A tackle will be affected once the defensive player has made contact with their hand on the ball that is in an opponent’s possession. The Tackler should call ‘tackle’, but even if not called, where the ‘touch’ on the ball is obvious to all parties involved, the tackle is deemed to have been made.
5.2. A deliberate touch/tackle can only be made with the hand or lower part of the arm. A player cannot deliberately make a touch with the foot, leg or shoulder and doing so is considered dangerous play.
5.3. “Phantom tackle” when a player calls a ‘tackle’ and then admits there was not a ‘tackle’ made. This results in a zero tackle play-the-ball penalty to the team in possession. Honesty is to be encouraged, and even though ‘rule bending’ is a part of most games, it is to be discouraged in X-League. If a defender says that he made a tackle on the ball, and the ball carrier disputes it, the referee, unless he is 100% sure there was no tackle made, will accept the defenders call.
5.4. When a ‘tackle’ has been called, the defender may keep his hand on the ball for a short period (2-3 seconds) of time to slow the play the ball down a little bit. However, if the defender loses contact with the ball and tries to put their hand back on the ball to lengthen the delay, a zero tackle play-the-ball penalty will be awarded to the ball carrier for interference at the play-the-ball.
5.5 When a ‘tackle’ has been called, the defender can remain at the site of the play-the-ball, and act as a single ‘marker’. This means they do not have to retreat the 5 metres, but the player must stay ‘square’ i.e. directly in front of the tackled player until the dummy half has picked up and either made a passing motion or taken a step with the ball, (THIS IS SLIGHTLY LONGER THAN IN THE FULL CONTACT
GAME) or the defender will be penalized for offside .
5.6 When a tackle is complete it will be called by the referee (or the defending
5.7 In the case where a ball carrier is surrounded or enveloped by defenders for
some time, but the ball has not yet been touched, to prevent excessive wrestling, a
tackle can still be called.
5.8 If a ball carrier falls to the ground, so that his knee or elbow touches the ground,
a tackle is called in the interest of safety.
6.1 A defender can, whilst attempting to get to the ball, pull the shirt or pull or push at
the ball carriers arms when dealing with an attempted fend. The attacker can protect
the ball and keep the defenders arms at bay. But, all players, either attacking or
defending, may not deliberately attempt to change the momentum of an opponent,
by barging, pulling or pushing’. This is considered misconduct.
The first offence will result in a Warning, subsequent offences will result in a
‘Sin-binning’ of the offending player, who can only return after a try has been scored
by either team.
7. ‘OVER HEAD’
7.1. If the ball carrier raises the ball up to keep the ball out of the reach of a
defender, he must pass the ball from that raised position. If the ball is not passed the
referee will call ‘Overhead’ and this results in a turnover and a zero tackle
play-the-ball. The definition of an ‘Overhead’ is when all of the ball, is raised above
all of the head of that player.
8.1 The play-the-ball should be made by rolling the ball back with the hand, and if
necessary pushing the ball back to the dummy-half, with the foot. The tackled player
must be standing on one foot and the other foot must appear to be assisting the ball
backwards to the dummy-half. A failure to be standing on one foot will result in a
zero tackle play-the-ball penalty turnover.
8.2. The play-the-ball must also be made on the mark (point of being tackled) or
within one step of the mark. Players will be penalised for running off, or not returning
to the mark before playing the ball (i.e. more than one step off the mark). However,
the ball carrier sets the mark for the play-the-ball, NOT the defender, If a defender
stays in the position he made the tackle, and the play-the-ball occurs within one step
of him, he will be considered offside if he attempts to get involved with play, without
either retreating to the marker position or the defensive line.
8.3. The defending team cannot advance forward from the off-side line (5m point)
nor the marker move from the mark until the dummy-half has picked up the ball.
However, the dummy-half must pick up the ball without delay. If the dummy-half
delays to try to draw the defenders offside, the dummy-half will be penalised.
8.4. The player playing the ball must do so as soon as practically possible after being
tackled. As a guide, it is expected that the player playing the ball does so within 2
seconds of being tackled. An unnecessary delay in playing the ball can be penalised.
8.5. If the ball is played with no dummy-half present, as long as a player from the
same team is attempting to get to the ball, the defensive line will still not be allowed
to move off the line until the ball is picked up. If there is no effort from the attacking
team to get to the ball, the referee may blow a penalty for “dummy half delaying”.
8.6 Once the dummy half picks up the ball they must immediately make an attempt
to pass or run with the ball. Standing still to draw the defence offside is not part of
the game, and will result in a penalty for “dummy half delaying”.
9.1. An accidental forward pass, or dropped ball, whether it travels forward or not
results in a turnover, zero tackle play-the-ball.
9.2. The restart of a new set of six is to be started upon the ref’s whistle or captain’s’
call. Quick restarts are not allowed. so that scoring opportunities are created from
good tactics and not simply taking advantage of an unprepared defence.
9.3. ‘Advantage’ will apply if a forward pass or a fumble is caught by the opposition
provided the ball does not hit the ground. If the ball is subsequently dropped before
an advantage has been taken,the first offence is deemed to be the error and the
team that committed the first offence will lose possession.
10.1. The game starts and restarts after a try with a ‘tap’ in the centre of the field.
Any tap technique will do, i.e if the ball is on the ground it can be touched with the
foot and then picked up, the ball can be held in the hands and touched off any part of
the leg, below the knee. A rugby union style tap penalty, whilst legal, is to be
discouraged because of the risk of dropping the ball.
10.2. The opening tap-off will be decided by a coin toss or other appropriate means.
10.3. Tap-offs after a score are performed by the non-scoring team.
10.4 If a ball is kicked dead, or lost in the in-goal area, by the attacking team, the ball
is turned over to the opposition and play restarts with a tap, centre field, 5m out from
the try line
10.5 A ‘Zero tackle, play-the-ball’ restart takes place at the site of any miss-handling
errors or when the sixth tackle has been completed and the ball has been turned
over to the opposition.
11. KICKING IN GENERAL PLAY
11.1. Kicking the ball is permitted in X-League at any time during the set of six.
11.2. Kicks can go any height and any distance.
11.3. If a kick goes out of play on the full, the non-kicking team will be awarded a
‘zero tackle, play-the-ball’ from where it was kicked.
11.4. If the kicker re-gathers their own kick, they can score.
11.5 If a kick is successfully caught by a member of the kicking team, with both feet
over the try line a try will be awarded, even though the ball has not been touched
11.6 If a kick is successfully caught, or touched with the hand and then dropped, by
a member of the non-kicking team, with one or both feet over the try line the kick is
deemed to have been ‘defused’ and a tap turnover will be awarded, to take place
centre field, 5 meters out from the try line.
11.7 “Free Catch Rule” If a kick is not successfully caught, but touched by the hand
of a player on the non-kicking team, it is deemed to have been ‘defused’ and a
turnover will occur where it was touched.
11.8 If a player from team A kicks the ball, and a player from team B does not
attempt to catch or touch the ball with his hands, but instead kicks the ball, he then
becomes the kicker and a player from team A need only touch the ball with his hands
to get possession back.
11.9 If a player catches a ball cleanly and plays on, the next tackle will be a ‘zero
12 OTHER IN-GOAL RULES
12.1. If in general play a player in possession is tackled whilst either foot is behind
their own try line, they must perform a dropout from centre field on their own try line.
(which cannot be re-gathered by the kicking team).
12.2. Even if the dropout bounces in field and rolls over the sideline, the kicking team
loses possession and the receiving team restarts the game with a ‘zero tackle,
play-the-ball’ 5 meters in-field from where the ball went out.
12.3. If the dropout goes over the sideline on the full, it is a tap to the receiving team
on the 5m line in the centre of the field.
12.4. In the unlikely event that the dropout goes the full length of the field and out
over the dead-ball line at the other end of the field, the other team must perform a
12.5. A try is awarded even if the ball carrier is tackled over the try line, provided that
the ball carrier has had both feet over the line (NFL Touchdown rule).
12.6. If the ball carrier is tackled between the 5metre line and the try line, before they
have touched the ball down, the play-the-ball takes place back on the 5 metre line,
unless it is the last tackle, in which case a zero tackle play-the-ball turnover takes
place on the 5 metre line.
13.1. A player cannot deliberately use a teammate to shield themselves from being
tackled. If however a defenders direct route to a ball carrier is blocked by an
attacking player without the ball, as long as that attacking player does not
deliberately move to obstruct the defender there is no infringement. A deliberate
obstruction results in a zero tackle play-the-ball penalty turnover.
14. DEFENSIVE LINE & OFFSIDE
14.1. The defensive team must retreat 5 metres back from the mark of the
play-the-ball as quickly as possible. The team must make it back to the referee or
captain who is setting the on-side line. However, if they are offside when the
play-the-ball takes place, if they continue to retreat so that they get back 5 metres
from the mark, they are then onside. Retreating/defensive players who do not retreat
directly, are not attempting to get on-side as quickly as possible, and can be
penalised for being off-side.
14.2. Advantage can be played and the ball carrier can ignore the tackle of an
obviously off-side player and continue. If the advantage does not result in a try, and
the attacking team are tackled, a zero tackle play-the-ball will be awarded.
14.3. Repeated offside infringements can result in a sin-binning (until a try is scored).
However, this is a last resort and it is not in the spirit of the game
15. DUMMY HALF
15.1 The Dummy-Half can get touched, without losing possession and can score
without having to pass the ball first. (this is different from other forms of touch and
16. PLAYING AT A BALL THAT HAS BEEN PASSED OR KICKED
16.1. If a pass is thrown and a defensive player makes a play at the ball knocking it
to the ground, the passing team will receive a new set of six. Starting with a zero
16.2. If a pass is thrown and it hits a defensive player and goes to ground, it is
deemed not played at, the passing team is responsible for the error, and this results
in a zero tackle play-the-ball turnover.
17. DISCIPLINE AND REFEREEING
17.1. Control of the game can be done by an appointed referee, or by ‘captains’
17.2. ‘Captains’ agreement’ means that a player from each team sets the on-side
and calls out the tackle count, and calls out any miss-handling errors or
infringements. Each team will also appoint a vice-captain.
17.3. Most infringement are obvious, but if there is a dispute between the two
captains, the decision is made by a vice-captain from one of the teams. This decision
is indisputable. The right to make this indisputable decision switches from team to
team on each occasion.
17.4. The game is always meant to be played in a spirit of cooperation and fun. But
in cases of repeated deliberate infringements or dissent, a player can be sin-binned
until a try is scored, or sent-off for the rest of the game.
18. COMPETITION SPECIFIC RULES AND OPTIONAL BY-LAWS
18.1. Competitions may wish to include additional rules to the game this is permitted
as long as agreed by the captains of all competing teams and The X-League Rules
18.2. ‘Alternative Touch and Scoring’ these rules allow for certain players to effect
the tackle by making any touch on the ball carrier (the same as in Touch) if this is
the case all players scores are to be considered equal. e.g.. All women’s tries are
worth the same as men, however the tackle is affected when a defending women
makes contact with the ball carrier with the hand or upper arm.
18.3. ‘Conversion Rule’ : After a try the scoring player will have an attempt at goal to
add an extra point, Two goalposts will be placed at the back of the in-goal in the
centre 5 metres apart, the shot at goal is a kick taken out of the hands, a minimum of
10m from the try line, in line with where the try was scored, the kick must bounce
before traveling through the uprights in order to add the extra point.
18.4. ‘Alternative player numbers and field dimensions’. It is possible to play
X-League Rugby League on any sized pitch with any number of players however it is
advised to try to keep the scale of the original rules. (see pitch dimensions below)
18.5. ‘Alternative restart’. An alternative form of restarting play is a ‘must take’ kick
taken out of the hands and from the centre spot, the kicking team cannot chase the
kick. If the receiving team catches cleanly they will proceed to a tap restart at the
centre spot, if it is dropped or no attempt is made to catch it and it lands in the field of
play, the kicking team will start play for the centre spot with a tap. Under this rule the
scoring team kicks off. The ball must go at least 10m high and must travel 10m too.
18.6. ‘Excessive Contact Rule’. In the event of contact becoming excess in the eyes
of the referee or one of the participating captains, a warning will be issued to both
teams, if the excessive contact persists the remainder of the game will be played
under modified “touch” rules:
Both teams will lose one player, the tackle will be effected by a one handed touch,
no markers are permitted and the overhead rule is not applied.
19.1. All jewellery and watches should be removed.
9.2. Fingernails should be trimmed.
9.3. Any player that experiences a loss of blood will need to clear or remove the
blood in order to return to the game.
20. FIELD DIMENSIONS
Fields will vary depending on the location but as a general guide, each field will have
a width of about 40 metres and a length of about 60 metres.
21. PLAYING KIT
When playing in an informal setting, Uniforms are unnecessary, although it is
advisable to have 2 different colours to help differentiate team mates.
In a more formal competition setting:
21.1. Teams are to be in the same colour jerseys/shirts. Which should, if possible, be
badged with a X-League logo and/or local competition badge.
21.2. Teams should have numbers on these jerseys/shirts.
22. TEAM COMPOSITION
22.1. Mens and Womens X-League should ideally have 7 people on the field; plus up
to 6 reserves (13 players total)
22.2. Mixed: Whilst X-League can be played with mixed teams, all players need to
be aware of the level of contact involved.
If necessary a rule can be applied that means females only need to make an ‘any
touch’ tackle when defending. And when in possession they are tackled when 2
separate defenders make an ‘any touch’ tackle on them. The first defender cannot
hold or otherwise impede her to improve the chances of a teammate making the 2nd
This rule has been used extensively and assists in increasing the level of
involvement of novice female players.
It may also be applied to players with disabilities to enable them to increase their
level of involvement in the game
22.3 On field player numbers can be reduced if the field is considered to be too small
Unlimited substitutions can be made, but these must be made from the middle of the
field and on one side of the field between the two substitution markers on half-way.
Players coming onto the field must not enter onto the field until the other player has
crossed the sideline. A failure to abide by these rules may result in a zero tackle
play-the-ball penalty, to the non-infringing team on halfway (or where they have the
ball – whichever provides the most advantage).
23.1. All players must register with their domestic governing body or club in order to
Registration of all players and their details is the responsibility of the club secretary,
and is important not only for insurance purposes, but also to assist organisations in
assessing participation rates
24.1. Insurance – Where the game is recognised as RL activity, registered players
are covered by the governing body’s insurance policy. In the event of injury, an
incident report form must be completed and signed by the player involved, any
witnesses and the club secretary.
24.2. A failure to report the injury at the time of the incident may void that player’s
right to make a claim.
X-League Rugby League Rules (R1) © Declan Foy and Des Foy, December 2019.
All Rights Reserved.