Knowing the rules is essential to playing your best. We have made a brief explanation of the rules so that all players have a clearer idea of what is going through a referee's brain when they blow a penalty. Don't worry, we've only focused on the Touch stuff, not whatever else is floating around in there!...
Basic Touch Rules Player Attire: You are not allowed to wear any jewellery while playing. Of course, not many referees are going to check if you have a Prince Albert or a labret piercing. The major point for referees is they want to avoid unnecessary injury to other players and yourself. If you have really long fingernails, you may be asked to cut or tape them over. Your shoes are not allowed to have screw-in cleats.
Team Numbers: A team can have no more than 14 players, with 4 to 6 players on the field. You can be penalised for having more than 6. In Mixed you must have at least one male and at least three females on the field.
Starting Play: A coin toss decides who starts the game with the ball. Play is started with an attacking player, tapping the ball with their foot.
Possession: A change over of possession occurs in the following situations:
- a team exhausts its six touches or has a penalty awarded against it;
- the ball hits the ground while not in the hands of a player and without being touched by the opposition;
- the oppositions intercepts the ball.
Passing: Passes must go straight or backwards. A player may pass, flick, knock or throw the ball. A player who passes after a touch has been made is penalised from where the ball is thrown.
Roll-ball: Any roll-balls or ''dumps'' that are not near where you were touched (''the mark'') is likely to be penalised, as is one which moves off the mark by a metre or so. If a player rolls the ball in a penalty situation, this player is not actually ''acting half'' and so this player may score or be touched. If you perform a roll-ball without being touched you will be penalised where the roll-ball occurred.
Offside: The defending team must move back five metres from the roll-ball. Only then can they move forward. The defence may usually not move forward until the acting half touches the ball unless informed otherwise by the referee. If the defence does not retire the required distance, they will be penalised. When you are near the score-line, the referee will usually tell the defenders to make it back to the line, with both feet being on or behind the line. If the referee calls you offside and the play is near you, they will call "play-on" rather than penalizing you.
Touches: You can make a touch on any part of a player or their clothing. There are obviously some places where you don't want to touch, or should avoid touching. Touches to the head are likely to be penalized. A player who claims a touch when one is not made is penalized unless the attacking team has an advantage.
Sideline/Score-line: A player with the ball who touches the sideline is out of the field and loss possession of the ball. A roll-ball will occur five metres infield from where they ran out. To score, a player need only place the ball on the score-line, not past it. If an attacking player is touched within five metres of, or past the score-line, they may roll the ball five-metres from the line.
Six-Again: When the defence touches the ball while trying to catch it or impede a pass (or "played" at it), the attacking team will usually get six more touches. The referee will call out "six again" and wave their hand in the air (but not like they just don't care). The attacking team still gets the ball back, even if they try to catch and drop the ball after a defender has "played" at it.
Obstruction: Attacking players cannot shield their team-mates from defenders trying to make touches. Nor can defensive players get in the way of attacking players when they are in an offside position. Grabbing an opposition player is also taboo, no matter how consensual your relationship is. If the referee gets in the way of a player trying to make a touch, then they should call the play back for a roll-ball with no increase in the touch count.
The Penalty: A penalty is taken like the tap for the start of the game. All attacking players need to be behind the player taking the penalty. All defensive players need to get back 10 metres from where the tap is taken in order to be onside. A referee may award a penalty touchdown if they deemed that an action by a player or spectator contrary to the rules or spirit of the game prevented a touchdown being scored.
Bovver: A referee may send you off for continually being penalised, being a smart arse or trying to cause bovver (as in "I'm gonna cause you some serious bovver, geek!"). If you are sent off for a "period of time" you will have to go to the end of the field your team is attacking. The ref will decide when you come back on. If you are involved in some serious stuff you could sent off for the rest of the game, an offence which means you will be suspended for at least two games. Your team will also have to play with one fewer player because you can't be replaced.