Battle of the Pubs


Guide for Judges and Competitors


The Umpire will stand at the centre of the rope and give all directions from there. The umpire may be assisted by two Line Judges, one for each end of the rope.


A team shall comprise up to 10 people. No more than 8 people shall be on the rope during a pull. Neither Pullers nor the Anchor can be replaced during a pull but may be substituted between pulls. One member of the team shall act as Coach during a match. Only the coach may communicate with the Umpire and Judges.


Footwear shall not contain any projection, insert or fixture that can penetrate the ground under the weight of the competitor.

The competitors' footwear will be inspected before the start of the competition.


There will be five tapes or markings fixed to a rope:

(a) A red tape or marking at the centre of the rope which will be level with the ground mark at the start of every pull.

(b) Two white tapes or markings each 4 metres either side of the red centre tape or marking

(c) Two blue tapes or markings each 5 metres either side of the red centre tape or marking. The first puller in each team shall grip the rope within 30 cm, and outside of,  these outer blue tapes or markings.


One position shall be marked, at right angles to the line of the rope, where the centre of the rope will be at the start of competitions.

A pull shall be won when one of the white tapes or markings on the rope has been pulled over the mark on the ground (4 metres), and will be signalled by the umpire blowing his or her whistle and pointing in the direction of the winning team.


Approved resin or 'tack' may be applied to the hands only. The Fleet Carnival Battle of the Pubs allows competitors to wear gloves.


(a) Upon taking up position the anchor will place the rope around his or her body in the approved manner for the inspection of a judge.

(b) The approved manner will be:- The rope will pass under one armpit diagonally cross the back, then over the opposite shoulder. The remaining rope shall pass back under the arm and trail behind the anchor.


From the start the rope shall be taut, every pulling member shall hold the rope with both bare hands by the ordinary grip, ie the palms of both hands facing up, and the rope shall pass between the body and the upper part of the arm. Any other hold which prevents the free movement of the rope is a lock and is an infringement of the rules. The feet must be extended forward of the knees and team members should be in a pulling position at all times during the pull.


When teams are called they shall go to their designated end, pick up the rope and set their grip and footing.

When the Line Judge sees that each team is correctly in position, he or she will raise their arm.

When the Umpire is satisfied that all is ready he or she shall give the teams the following verbal and visual commands:

"GIVE GROUND" may be asked of each side until rope is steady with the centre mark over the ground mark. The Line Judges will ask the coach to move their team in the direction required.

"ARE YOU READY" will be asked of each team coach. The coach should either indicate "Yes" or "No".  If either team is not ready the teams will be told to relax until the problem is resolved. When both teams are ready the commands will be continued.

"TAKE THE STRAIN" at the same time raising both hands above the head. Sufficient strain shall be put on the rope to ensure that it is taut, but teams should not attempt to pull.  The umpire will check the centre mark and make allowance for any drift from the ground mark.

"STEADY" showing the palms of one hand to each team.

"PULL" at the same time flinging both hands downwards.

"RELAX" placing the hands on top of the head. Used when things get too difficult to start the pull. (Used in the Fleet Carnival Battle of the Pubs.)


The first round of the Fleet Carnival Battle of the Pubs will be run as 8 leagues, with the top 2 in each league going on the knockout phase. In the leagues, each team will pull twice against each other team in the league, changing ends after the first pull. One point will be awarded for each win.

Tug of War leagues: In event of a tie on points.

Two way tie:

If the tie is three-way there will be extra pulls and A and B above cannot decide the qualifiers:

If a four or more way tie the qualifiers will be decided by the finishing position in a sprint race by one member of each team along the length of a rope.

In the knockout phase, all matches shall be won by pulls out of three. Initial positions will be determined by the order drawn. Teams will change ends after a reasonable rest on the completion of each pull. In the event of a match going to three pulls, coaches will toss for the choice of the third end.


After a pull the teams shall carry the rope back to the starting position ready for the next pull.


Teams may claim a maximum of 3 minutes rest between pulls and a maximum of 6 minutes between matches.



(a) Sitting - deliberately sitting on the ground, or failure to return immediately to the pulling position.

(b) Leaning - touching the ground with any part of the body other than the feet.

(c) Locking the rope - no knots or loops shall be made in the rope, nor shall it be locked across any part of the body or any member of the team. Crossing the rope over itself constitutes a loop.

(d) Grip - any grip other than the ordinary grip as described above.

(e) Propping - holding the rope in a position where it does not pass between the body and the upper part of the arm.

(f) Position - sitting on a foot or a limb or the feet not extended forward of the knee.

(g) Climbing the rope - passing the rope through the hands.

(h) Rowing - repeatedly sitting on the ground whilst the feet are moved backwards.

(i) Anchor's Grip - any grip other than described above.

(j) Footware - wearing illegal footware.

(k) There shall be no conduct by word or act likely to bring the sport or your pub into disrepute.

(l) No member of a team, ie coach, trainer or puller may address any remark to the judge whilst pulling is in progress.

(m) The use of liquids, for any purpose, is prohibited within the immediate vicinity of the rope.

(n) Releasing- Releasing the rope before a pull has been completed.  If this occurs the offending team shall lose the pull.

N.B. Advice sought from the judges may only be obtained via the coach. The function of the trainer is to attend to the requirements of the team, before and after pulls.

On identifying an infringement a line judge will tell the umpire.


For any infringement of the rules during a pull the umpire shall, in addition to naming the team call "First caution" clearly pointing with one finger, or "Final caution" clearly pointing with two fingers in the direction of the offenders.

A team will be deemed guilty of an infringement even though only one member offends.

Only two cautions can be given to a team, prior to disqualification in any one pull. However, the judge has the authority to disqualify a team or teams without caution for any offence against the rules.


A umpire shall declare a "No pull" in the event of:

(a) Both teams being guilty of infringements.

(b) Both teams leaving go of the rope before the finish of a pull unless the pull has been effectively won by one team.

(c) A pull being interrupted without infringement by either of the teams.

When a "No pull" is declared in cases (a) or (b), no rest period will be granted and the pull shall be retaken immediately and without any aid or service. When a "No pull" is declared in the case of (c) a reasonable rest will be granted. The judge shall blow the whistle and point, with both arms crossed, at the centre line.


A spirit of good humour shall be maintained at all times.