League star and rugby convert, Mark Gasnier, made a surprise appearance in Gunnedah recently to demonstrate a new, rugby union-based version of Oz Tag.
Mark, who is nephew of St George great and rugby league immortal, Reg Gasnier, is also the founder and chief executive officer of the game he developed called ‘Tri Tag Rugby’.
He joined youngsters from Gunnedah Health and Fitness for a quick introduction to the new concept.
“The whole idea is to simulate cleaning out the ruck,” Mark said.
“You rip the side tag off, that stops your progress, then two defenders defend the ruck, and your team-mate has to rip off the back tag, that’s cleaning out the ruck and then your
scrumhalf can play on.
“You can kick in play and it’s eight against on eight on half a rugby field.”
Mark played 12 matches for NSW, 15 for his country and 175 for the same club dominated by his uncle as well as a 26-game stint with French rugby side Stade Français.
He said a desire to see grassroots rugby not only survive but thrive, was the catalyst for the game’s development.
“It is hard that all contact sports are suffering from lack of participation and there is a lot going around about CTE and concussions,” Gasnier said
“I’m a big believer that future is every contact game will need a non-contact version.
“If they want to keep broader participation base and keep people interacting in the clubs, I think that is what’s needed.
“I hope it becomes the official non-contact game of rugby – it definitely develops their skills set, knowledge of the game, their awareness and game instincts.”
The skills session in Gunnedah was aimed at beginner level but the Tri Tag Rugby rules could be adapted for more advanced playing groups.
“On the more serious side with this, you have non-contested scrums, non-contested lineouts but there’s hybrid rules to cater for social and serious players,” he said.
“Today, everyone took the tap but other times, where they all play rugby, they would take a scrum.”
Gasnier was also thrilled to returned to the regional setting.
“We were in Narrabri earlier and now Gunnedah – I love it,” he said.
“I remember when I debuted, we had to go all through the Riverina – you just can’t beat coming to the bush.”