Irish Tug of War Association

The Irish Tug of War Association is an amateur organisation which acts as the governing body for the sport of Tug of War in the Rep. of Ireland with the object of developing Tug of War in conformity with the principles of, and the Laws laid down by the ITOWA. The association receives grant aid from the Sport Ireland of which we are very grateful. There are approximately sixty clubs affiliated to the Irish Tug of War Association. Tug of War teams usually consist of eight or five pullers whose total weight must not exceed the weight category of the particular competition. Contests between two teams are best of three pulls. A contest is judged by the competition referee using a strict set of rules laid down by the Tug of War International Federation (TWIF) and the ITOWA.

The Tug of War International Federation (TWIF) is the international governing body for the sport of Tug of War. There are approximately fifty countries affiliated to TWIF. TWIF organises World and European Championships every other year at outdoor level and World Championships every second year at indoor level. Ireland is considered as one of the top countries in international Tug of War having won many medals at both club and country down through the years. The sport of Tug of War in recognised by the International Olympic Council (IOC) and is on the waiting list to be re-instated to the Olympic Games.

Indoor Tug of War takes place in the winter while outdoor Tug of War runs throughout the summer. Indoor Tug of War is contested on special rubber mats and competitors pull flat footed wearing specially designed rubber soled runners. Competitors in outdoor Tug of War wear specially made boots with a steel plated heel which is used to penetrate the surface of the ground. Army or skiing boots are commonly used as they offer good ankle support. The Irish Tug of War Association organise national championships at both indoor and outdoor level. Competition weights for both national and international Tug of War range from 480kilos for women to 720kilos for men. The typical weight categories for men are 600kg, 640kg, 680kg and 720kg. The provincial boards organise provincial championships in Ulster, Connaught, Leinster and Munster, the provincial championships take place before the national championships. The provincial championships for indoor commence around October and the national championships usually begin in November. The World indoor championships take place every second year in February. The outdoor season usually begins in April with the provincial championships while the national championships commence in either June or July. The World or European championships take place every other year in September.

See some of the links below for more information.

TWIF Promotion video

Advice to Coaches

Procedure for starting a pull

Finishing a pull

Formation of the Irish Association

The sport of Tug of War has been prominent in Ireland for many centuries. Teams up to the start of the last century comprised ten men at two weights, 104 stone and catchweight. The necessity for having strict rules became essential for the sport to improve. old-picEngland decided to form a Tug of War association in 1958. John Shephard joined the English association in 1960 and became a judge and was appointed chief judge during his term in office. At this time supporters in Ireland were interested in forming an association. John Shepard and John O’Donovan from Clonakilty Co. Cork exchanged many letters about this matter. Difficulties, however, prevented them from forming an Irish Association covering the whole of Ireland. The Irish Tug of War Association was founded at a meeting which took place at the Guinness Iveagh Grounds in 1967 and was chaired by Mr. Fred Colgey of RTE. Elected officers were as follows: President – Fred Cogley, Chairman – Bod Deans and Secretary – Jim O’Donovan. Special recognition is due to Mr Tommy Elmore who dedicated the best part of his life to the development of the sport in Ireland. Tommy Joined the ITOWA in early 1968 and guided many successful Irish teams to World gold. He held the position of Chairman for many years up until his sad passing in the late nineteen nineties; he was also held the position of Treasurer of TWIF (Tug of War International Federation) for many years’.

Origins of the sport

Tug-of-War is a competitive team sport in England, Scotland, Sweden and many other countries with a sea-faring tradition. For that is where the sport of Tug-of-War comes from. It originated in the great days of sail when teams of men were required to tug on lines to adjust sails while ships were underway or even in combat. The first land competitions are thought to have been held in India after British Army officers observed seamen at this sport during their free time at sea. The officers thought it would be a good way to keep their own men fit during the long sea voyage from England to India. They enjoyed it so much that they continued the competitions on reaching their destination. The sport was part of the Olympic Games from 1900 to 1920 but has not been included since. The Tug of War event was thought to be part of the track and field event. The Olympic gold medal winners for Tug of War are Sweden in 1900 & 1912, USA in 1904 and Great Britain in 1908 & 1920