A brief history of Touch Football


Touch Football was formally established in 1968 by Bob Dyke and Ray Vawdon of the South Sydney Juniors rugby league club.

Although closely aligned to Rugby League, all heavy body contact is eliminated in Touch Football. There are no tackles, scrums or kicking. The emphasis is on running, agility, passing and catching.

Originally devised as a training method for League players and a means for retired players to still compete and remain fit, the game had spread across Australia and New Zealand by 1976.

Women’s Touch was first played at a representative level in 1979, the first National Championships held in 1980 and the first Touch World Cup in 1988. The first National Touch League (NTL) tournament was launched in 1997.

In 2013, the NRL and Touch Football Australia formed a partnership and 2018 sees the 50th anniversary of the game.

Today, Touch is among the highest participation-based organised sports with over 613,000 taking part. Forty-six per cent of these are female, and participants can play in men’s, women’s, or mixed gender teams, and of any age or sporting ability.

The sport is now played in 53 countries worldwide.


Game formally established at Souths Juniors, originally as a training method for League players and as a means for retired players to still compete and remain fit

NSW Touch Association formed with six affiliated associations and approximately 1500 registered players

First Interstate clash between a team from NSW and QLD

Game spreads internationally to New Zealand

First International match (AUS v NZ); Touch played as curtain raiser to 1976 Rugby League Grand Final

Australian Touch Association formed

Women’s Touch first played at rep level

First National Championships held, catering for 1000 players and officials. Game starts to develop its own unique rules and become a sport in its own right; first official rule book released

First Touch World Cup held at Gold Coast; goes on to be held at four-year intervals

First National Touch League (NTL) tournament held

First Touch World Cup hosted in Asia (Japan)

First Touch World Cup hosted in Europe (Scotland)

NRL and Touch Football Australia form a partnership

50th Anniversary of Touch Football. More than 613,000 participants.


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