of War Association (TOWA)
Tug of War UK
of war is a unique team sport, where the team work requires
all team members to do the same thing. Perhaps only rowing
can match the sport in this respect.
Tug of War Takes place outdoors, on grass, and indoors on
mats, and there are male, female and youth (under 18) competitions
at various weight categories, which take place all year round,
indoor (October-March) in the winter, and outdoor in the summer
The Tug of War Association (TOWA) organises men’s,
women’s and youth competitions. Mixed teams and men’s
teams pulling against women’s teams are not allowed
in championship events, but mixed gender pulling is allowed
(and quite common) in open competitions. Competitions under
TOWA laws are held every weekend. Outdoor Tug of War (on grass)
from March to September, and Indoor Tug of War (on mats) from
October to February. All member clubs can compete at these
meetings. Clubs who are not members of the TOWA may also compete
for a trial period but should register with the Association
if they wish to continue pulling in its competitions.
Tug of War team consists of eight pullers (six for some youth
competitions) plus a coach and a trainer. The coach is the
only person in the arena (apart from the judge) who may address
remarks to the team during a pull. All pulls are conducted
under the control of a TOWA judge. Pulls are best of three,
the choice of first end being decided by the toss of a coin.
The object is to pull the opposing team a distance of four
metres. Teams can be disqualified for persistently infringing
the rules. The rules are clearly stated in the TOWA Handbook,
but if you stay in a proper pulling position, i.e. facing
forwards with both hands on the rope, do not sit down and
do not lock the rope across your body you should be OK.
Tug of War competitions are organised in weight classes where
each team of eight pullers must not exceed the stated weight.
Weight classes start at 560 kilos for men and 520 kilos for
women. Teams are weighed on 8-person scales. Most Tug of War
meetings have 3 -6 weight classes. Each weight class is run
as a points competition (where each team pulls every other
team, getting 3 points for a 2 - nil win, 2 points for a 2
- 1 win and 1 point for losing 1- 2, the team ending up with
most points being the winner), or as a knockout competition
(where two teams end up in a final).
are rules regarding footwear (very important) and clothing.
The highlight of outdoor tug of war is the clash of sheer
power between the two teams. Athletes seek an optimal foothold
in the ground by digging in their heels and, using that as
their pivot, pull the rope with all the strength they're capable
Obviously, this technique doesn't work for the indoor events:
leaning too far back would cause the athletes to slip, even
on the specially designed rubber mats. Hence they try to steadily
move back - step by step - to avoid loss of pulling power.
Indoor matches require more complex techniques and tactics
than those in the outdoor tug of war.
key is for the rope to be pulled in a straight line from the
lead to the anchor. The team pulling the centre of the rope
four meters from the starting position is declared the winner.
The rope is between 33,5 and 36m in length, 10 to 12,5cm in
diameter, and of hemp.
The Tug of War Association is the governing body of the sport
in England and is recognised by Sport England, as well as
being affiliated to England Athletics and the Tug of War International
Federation (TWIF). TWIF is also a member of the IOC and the
sport is striving to regain Olympic status, which it had in
the first 5 Olympic Games before the sport was removed to
reduce the number of participants.
If you would like to join a team, or wish to register your
team with the Tug of War Association, then visit the Tug
of War Association web site.
Or you can contact Peter Craft, Tel: 01494 783057, Fax: 01494
Or contact by post at
57 Lynton Road