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Changes in official flag and touch football rules for 2019-2020

This is an excerpt from 2019 & 2020 NIRSA Flag & Touch Football Rules Book & Officials' Manual.

The NIRSA Rules Book and Officials' Manual takes priority over materials listed below.


Rules Book


1-2 The Game. Specific references to men's and women's games have been removed.

2-12 Hurdling. Hurdling is an attempt by a player to jump (hurdle)—by leading with 1 foot, both feet, the knees, or both feet and knees—over an opponent who is contacting the ground with no part of their body except 1 foot or both feet.

2-24-9 Spot Where a Run Ends. The spot where a run ends is: (A) where the ball becomes dead if the runner does not lose possession or if the runner's fumble/backward pass from beyond the scrimmage line lands behind the spot of the fumble/backward pass; (B) where the player loses possession if their run is followed by their fumble or a backward pass that touches the ground or goes out of bounds beyond the spot of their fumble or backward pass or which goes into the opponent's end zone, their illegal forward pass, or their fumble/backward pass beyond the scrimmage line that is intercepted; or (C) the spot of the catch or recovery when the momentum rule is in effect.

3-2-5 First 22 Minutes of Each Half. Team time-out: clock restarts on the snap. NOTE: If a team time-out is called prior to a Try, the Try down shall be untimed, and the clock shall restart on the snap of the play that follows the Try.

3-6 Illegally Conserving or Consuming Time. When a team attempts to conserve or consume time illegally, the Referee shall order the clock started or stopped. If the kicking team delays kicking the ball, as described in 6-1-4, the Referee may also reset the clock to the time of the previous snap and start the clock on the snap. When a penalty is accepted with less than 2 minutes remaining in either half, the offended team will have the option to start the game clock on the snap.

7-6-4 Out of Bounds. A backward pass or fumble that goes out of bounds between the goal lines is dead. The ball belongs to the offensive team: (A) at the out-of-bounds spot if it is behind the spot of the pass or fumble, or (B) at the spot of the pass or fumble if it goes out of bounds beyond the spot of the pass or fumble. If out of bounds behind a goal line, it is a touchback or safety.

7-6-5 Ball Dead When It Hits the Ground. A backward pass or fumble that touches the ground between the goal lines is dead. The ball belongs to the offensive team: (A) at the spot where it touches the ground or (B) at the spot of the pass or fumble if it touches the ground beyond the spot of the pass or fumble.

7-7-3 Illegal Reception-Co-Rec Rule. Penalty renamed Illegal Reception.

8-6-1 Referee's Responsibility and Team's Choice. The Referee must speak to the coach or captain only, asking them whether the Try shall be from the 3, 10, or 20 yard line. Once the A coach/captain makes the choice, they may change the decision only when an A- or B-charged time-out is taken. The value of the Try may not be changed if a dead ball foul occurs after the ready for play signal, or if a live ball foul occurs during the Try. The Referee will ask the scoring coach/captain where they would like the ball placed on or between the hash marks. Enforcement of yardage penalties does not change the value of the Try. The point(s) shall be awarded if the Try results in what would have been a touchdown.

9-3-1J Restrictions. Any player or nonplayer commits a personal foul with any of the following actions: Is in the restricted area and cause unintentional contact with a game official (nonplayers only).

10-2-1 Live Ball Fouls. The basic spot may, at the option of the offended team, be the succeeding spot for fouls by K during a punting down (other than kick catch interference or illegally consuming time) when K will not be next to put the ball in play.

10-3-12 Fouls by K During Punts. When K fouls during a punt (other than kick catch interference or illegally consuming time), R may have the penalty enforced at either the previous spot or the succeeding spot, provided K will not be next to put the ball in play.

7-5-1 4 on 4 Football Rules Summary Rushing the QB. B cannot cross their scrimmage line until the pass is released. Penalty: Illegal Advancement, 3 yards from the previous spot (S19).


Officials' Manual


II-3 Beginning a Period. This section, previously called “After the 1st and 3rd Periods,” was renamed.

II-6 Scoring Plays. Inform team captains or coaches of enforcement options if there is a foul by the opponent of the scoring team, or a foul by either team prior to the declaration of the Try.

V-1-5C Goal Line and Try Coverage. BJ: Your initial position, keys, and coverage responsibilities remain the same as for standard scrimmage plays.

V-1-6D Reverse Mechanics. BJ: Maintain responsibility for your sideline.

V-3-1B Co-Rec Scrimmage Play Coverage. R: Rule on whether the passer is behind or beyond A's scrimmage line when the pass is thrown.

V-3-1C Co-Rec Scrimmage Play Coverage. LJ: Your initial position, keys, and coverage responsibilities remain the same as for standard scrimmage plays.

VI-1-4B Line-to-Gain Coverage on 3rd and 4th Down. LJ: If the ball is snapped 3 yards or less from the line-to-gain, hustle to the line-to-gain immediately following the snap. Do not leave the line-to-gain until either the runner is clearly beyond the line-to-gain or the ball becomes dead by rule. You are primarily responsible for determining if the line-to-gain was achieved. Defer to the FJ if the play ends near the intersection of the opposite sideline and the line-to-gain.

VI-1-4 Line-to-Gain Coverage on 3rd and 4th Down. LJ: If the ball is snapped more than 3 yards from the line-to-gain, the FJ is primarily responsible for determining if the line-to-gain was achieved.

VI-1-4D Line-to-Gain Coverage on 3rd and 4th Down. FJ: If the ball is snapped 3 yards or less from the line-to-gain, your initial position remains the same as for standard scrimmage plays. The LJ is primarily responsible for determining if the line-to-gain was achieved. You should assist the LJ if the play ends near the intersection of your sideline and the line-to-gain.

VI-1-4F Line-to-Gain Coverage on 3rd and 4th Down. FJ: If the ball is snapped more than 3 yards, and 14 yards or less from the line-to-gain, your initial position is the line-to-gain.

VI-3-1B Co-Rec Scrimmage Play Coverage. R: Rule on whether the passer is behind or beyond A's scrimmage line when the pass is thrown.

VI-3-1C Co-Rec Scrimmage Play Coverage. LJ: Your initial position, keys, and coverage responsibilities remain the same as for standard scrimmage plays.