Get to know Touch Football: The basics

The outstanding skillset and outlandish ball-playing style of Kalyn Ponga are things that Knights fans have savoured every second of since he arrived at the Club.

The young talent's footwork has proved to be too much for the rest of the competition, with a host of teams struggling to lock him down during his short NRL career thus far.

He is forged from the same iron as many NRL superstars before him, including Benji Marshall, Shaun Johnson, Matt Moylan, Alex Glenn and even current teammate Aidan Guerra. The common denominator? They all polished their skills on the touch field.

Clearly the skills adopted in touch football are beneficial to emerging NRL stars, however there are several key characteristics of each game that differentiate the two.

THE FIELD

A rugby league field is played on a rectangular grass field measuring 68 metres wide and 100 metres long, whereas a touch football field is slightly smaller, measuring 50 metres wide by 70 metres long. The reduced field size is complimented by less personnel playing, which will be covered in the next section.

THE TEAMS

A rugby league team balances a 17-member squad through a mix of raw power, speed and agility, whereas a touch football team has just six on the field, with a maximum of 14 in a team. A touch football team is divided into three positions; middles, links, and wingers.

While the middlemen of a league team need to be incredibly strong and significantly bigger than the rest of the players, the middles of a touch team are considered to be the most consistent and fittest players in the team, as they have the biggest workload defensively covering the other middles and their link player.

The link players are either side of the two middles, and inside of the wingers, and are generally the most elusive players in the squad, with exceptional ball handling and footwork. The links are akin to the halves of an NRL team; think Shaun Johnson, Matt Moylan and Benji Marshall.

The wingers stand outside of the links, are generally the fastest players in the team and use their quick wit and vision to stop a try from the opposing side, as well as trying to get one up on the opposition and score.

THE TIMING

NRL is played in two 40-minute halves, with a 10-minute half time interval. Touch football is generally more fast-paced, played in two 20-minute halves with just a 5-minute gap for half time.

THE SETS

Penalties aside, a typical touch football set consists of six 'touches'.

After a try has been scored, a new set is started by tapping the ball on the ground at half way. Similar to a rugby league set, a dropped ball forces a turnover, however unlike a rugby league set, the dummy half cannot score or be touched and there is no kicking allowed in general play.

Due to the decreased field size, defenders are only required to stand back a minimum of five metres, half of what's required in rugby league.

So while there are plenty of rules that differentiate the two games, there are also skills that can be carried over, as Kalyn Ponga shows to amazing effect every week.