The Roar
The Roar


Backyard touch football: Official laws of the game

Jarryd Hayne is angry after his poor Origin II performance - and other clubs should be worried. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)
12th August, 2016
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Section 1 – Playing field

  1. The playing field shall encompass as large an area of the available backyard as possible, and should be roughly rectangular in shape.
  2. In the case of a trapezoidal backyard where one end of the field is wider than the other, the team with the fewer players (see Section 3.2) shall defend the narrower end of the field.
  3. The upkeep of the playing surface is the responsibility of the homeowner. All complaints regarding the quality of the surface may be deferred to the gardener.*
  4. Corner posts shall be marked by bins, discarded jumpers or small bushes.
  5. Upkeep equipment, including sprays, lawnmowers and pruning shears are required to be located in an easily accessible shed or area nearby in case a need for ad hoc maintenance arises.
  6. The dead ball line shall be marked by the wall of the house, the road, or some other boundary either unpassable or with the potential to cause severe grazing.
  7. It is the captains’ responsibility to check the field of play for any rogue objects or prickly flora which may affect the quality of the game.

*Appendix to Section 1:

Every effort should be made by the appointed groundskeeper in the off-season to maintain the playing surface. Failure to prevent bindiis and weeds from growing the playing surface by improper off-season maintenance will be punished by people coming round to their place less often, as well as shaming at appropriate meeting places (Ie the pub)

Section 2 – Ball

  1. The ball shall be a standard oval-shaped football. The owner of the property reserves the right to select the branding on the football.
  2. In the absence of a standard football, the following alternatives shall also be deemed acceptable:

i) mini-football
ii) soccer ball
iii) tennis ball
iv) empty beer can

Section 3 – Players

  1. The best two players shall be chosen as captains and select their teams in turn from the available pool of players. First pick shall go to the captain whose team is currently higher on the NRL Ladder.
  2. If there are an odd number of players, the teams may be further shuffled at the end of the selection period to make things fairer for everybody. Any such shuffling shall be agreed upon by both teams, with nobody being a dick about it.
  3. Late-arriving players may be added to the team with the fewer number of players. Should both teams have the same number of players, the new player shall be added to the team currently losing.
  4. Players may leave the game at any point if they
    i) get bored
    ii) suffer a proper injury (although see 3.5)
    iii) have a prior appointment
    iv) need to grab food and/or beer
  5. Players who leave the game for unacceptable reasons (e.g. a minor injury, their team is losing or because a decision went against them) shall be deemed ‘soft’ and potentially ruled ineligible for future fixtures, or, at the very least, regarded with suspicion.
  6. Bare feet is the mandatory footwear. Any player attempting to compete in running shoes will be punished by a healthy dose of sledging. Footy boots shall be laughed off the field.
  7. While a bindii injury is not considered sufficient to leave the game, play may be stopped as a result of a ‘bindii clause’ should a player cop one square in the foot. The homeowner/groundskeeper shall be appropriately admonished by the players for any such failure to maintain a suitable playing surface.

Section 4 – Scoring

  1. Four (4) points shall be awarded for each try scored, with conversions worth two (2) points. Conversions shall be attempted between two players forming makeshift goal posts by holding hands and raising their other arm in the air.
  2. Field goals shall not apply.
  3. As an exception to 4.1, should somebody be sufficiently organised to set up some kind of constant proxy for goal posts and cross bar, then field goals will be permitted and worth one (1) point.
  4. As an exception to 4.1, should an uncle who last watched rugby league in the 1980s be playing, the value of tries may be reduced to three (3) points.
  5. As an exception to 4.2, should Granddad come out to play, field goals may have their value increased to two (2) points.

Section 5 – Timekeeping

  1. Play shall continue for as long as a sufficient number of players can be bothered playing (see Section 3.4).
  2. Once players have indicated they’ve had enough, a ‘next try wins’ call shall be put forth.
  3. The game shall then end after the next try and the team that scores that next try shall be deemed the winner.

Section 6 – Kick-Off

  1. The kick-off may take place either by place kick or drop kick.
  2. ‘Scorers kick’ rules shall apply, with the team that scored the most recent points kicking off to restart play.
  3. If the ball being used is a tennis ball, beer can or other ball similarly unsuitable for kicking (see Section 2.2), then the kick-off shall be replaced by a tap restart. Scorers kick rules shall not apply in this scenario.

Section 7 – Touch and touch in-goal

  1. Any wayward passes or kicks that go out of bounds either into the neighbour’s yard, across the back road or down the hill shall be retrieved by the person who threw the pass or executed the kick.
  2. As an exception to 7.1, should the ball land in a neighbour’s yard with a really big dog and the designated ball retriever have a genuine fear of dogs, then somebody else shall be required to retrieve the ball.
  3. The person scared of dogs may also be called ‘soft’, but, in contrast to Section 3.5, shall not be liable to suspension from future matches.

Section 8 – Knock-on and forward pass

  1. Nobody shall be overly concerned about knock-ons or forward passes, unless it’s really obvious and/or deliberate.
  2. A forward pass is considered acceptable as a one-off, if it’s done in American Football (‘Gridiron’) style to a player running down the field, particularly if it’s accompanied by a strong Jarryd Hayne joke.

Section 9 – Tackling and play the ball

  1. Any touch of the player with the ball is sufficient to be considered a tackle. The defender’s word shall be taken for all touches (unless it’s that no-good lying bastard Davo).
  2. The tackle count shall be shouted aloud by both teams. In cases of disputed count, the count shall be decided by the player whose job most resembles an accountant’s (or the player with the best maths grade in the case of no playing adults).
  3. A player with the ball may also be tackled if it’s considered sufficiently funny to do so. In such a scenario, the tackled player should be driven hard into the ground, eliciting laughter from everybody else.
    If there are fewer than three players on a side, the play the ball shall be replaced by a tap.

Section 10 – Scrums

  1. All scrums shall be replaced by bunny scratches, with the ball placed between two players who must then attempt to heel the ball back to their teammates following the official call of ‘one bunny, two bunny, three bunny, SCRATCH!’

Section 11 – Foul play

  1. Contact to the head shall be penalised with:
    i) a startled cry of ‘look out’ from the struck player (careless contact)
    ii) an angry cry of ‘settle down’ from the struck player (reckless contact) or
    iii) an extended string of expletives from the struck player that may optionally lead to a proper fist fight (deliberate contact)


  1. All interpretations and final rulings are determined by majority rule.
  2. Obstruction rules shall not apply, because they’re confusing as hell. In particular, any objects on the field of play such as a small tree, clothes line or parked car are deemed to be fair play as a defensive wall.
  3. In cases where a young child is playing against adults, the child shall be allowed to score one (1) try where he or she weaves around the opposing team who all feign an inability to touch them, although this rule shall not apply if the child has previously scored a legitimate try.

The best backyard groundskeepers get in early. Bindii and clover are growing now in winter, and will take over your lawn in spring, meaning touch footy matches can be delayed or cancelled under Law 3, subsection 7. Easily control them before they establish and spread, to ensure a weed free lawn for when the footy finals roll around, with Yates Weed’n’Feed Hose-on. It controls the Bindii and Clover as well giving you’re a lawn a feed for the perfect playing surface. Click here for more information and to WIN your favourite team’s jersey.