The Tug of War Association (TOWA) was founded in 1958 and is the governing body for tug of war in England. Prior to that the sport was organised within the Amateur Athletic Association (AAA). The TOWA and the other UK associations are members of the The Tug of War International Federation (TWIF). The Tug of War Association is a recognised sports governing body by Sport England. Tug of war was part of the Olympic Games between 1900 and 1920. Contrary to general perceptions, tug of war is a serious sport, requiring, strength, fitness and determination with teams putting in lots of training and practice to enable them to compete at local, national and international events
The TOWA organises men’s, women’s, junior under 23, and mixed competitions (where teams each consist of 4 men and 4 women). Competitions under TOWA rules are held on most weekends throughout the year. Outdoor Tug of War (on grass) takes place from March to September, and Indoor Tug of War (on mats) takes place from October to February. All member clubs can compete at these meetings. Clubs who are not members of the TOWA may also compete in open competitions, but should register with the TOWA if they wish to take part in championship events.
A Tug of War team consists of eight pullers 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. The object is to pull the opposing team a distance of four metres from the fixed centre point. Teams can be disqualified from an end for persistently infringing the rules. The rules are available on the rule page, 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 500 kilos for women. Teams are weighed on 8-person scales, but are weighed individually at championship events. Most Tug of War meetings have a number of weight classes. Each weight class is run as a points competition. In some cases, competitions are run as a knockout competition (where two teams end up in a final).
There are rules regarding footwear (very important) and clothing.
If you have a novice team that competes at fun events, young farmers events, or on the military circuit and would like to take it a step further, why not start competing at proper TOWA competitions? You do not have to join the Association straight away, and need not be afraid of being outclassed. Most (usually all) weights at ToWA competitions are now run as a points competition. This means that a novice team will get plenty of pulling experience competing against teams of all standards, and will soon notice an improvement in its ability. Most ToWA competitions are held on Sundays (although some also take place on Saturdays), and most Sunday competitions start at 11am. The ToWA runs courses for judges and coaches anually, and at ToWA competitions you will meet lots of experienced people who will happy to share their knowledge with you. If you would like more information please contact us. We can then put you in touch with a local official or coach who will be only too pleased to give you advice and assistance