Jess Charles is ready for a huge sporting challenge

A proud Jess Charles shows off her silver is delighted to write about an interesting new variation of an old sport as we meet up with a talented young lady named Jess Charles who is playing tag rugby, or ‘Oz-Tag’ as it is nicknamed after it originated on the beaches of the Gold Coast in Australia.
Jess originally hails from Pembrokeshire but now lives and works in London, where she usually plays the game four or five times a week, after starting out in the traditional oval-ball game at Haverfordwest, as one of a huge number participating in the capital and much further afield - and now eagerly anticipating playing for the Great Britain team that will be in Limerick, Southern Ireland, for the forthcoming World Tag Rugby Championships.
GB won a bronze medal the previous time it was held, in Australia in the Under 30s Category, and Jess will be in the squad of 20 for the Women’s Open that will aim for an even better outcome this time as they play New Zealand, Australia, Vietnam, the indigenous Australian team and Ireland in the early play-offs before the weekend finals.

Some simple rules – and a great international debut for Jess

The aim of the game is very simple and that is to outscore the opposition in try count, but with the only contact allowed as one of the two tags placed on the opponent’s hips are removed and the ball has to be quickly passed.
There are no scrums, line outs or goal posts, but with a box in the middle of the try lines where a ball may be grounded and double the end product to a double score.
The Great Britain team had an extended squad get-together recently as they took part in the British and Irish Cup and came back with wins in all three games to set up their ambitions for next month.
“We won 9-2, 4-1 and 9-1 and in the final game I scored two tries,” Jess told us, “one of which I managed to score in ‘The Box’”

Jess and her delighted team mates

Family matters and other sports

That Jess should be involved in any form of rugby came from her father Gareth, who was a very good hooker for a number of years with Narberth and later on took on the role of coach with Haverfordwest Ladies, where Jess became involved and played at outside half or outside centre.
She has also been heavily involved in the equine world because her mother Michelle has her horse, and both she and Jess have taken part in horse shows and done well showing off the disciplines involved.
In rugby she graduated to play for The Scarlets Ladies and when she went to University in Portsmouth she started playing for them and then the Hampshire County, mainly in the No 13 centre jersey.

A new sport discovered – and loved from the outset

But then she moved to London and discovered ‘Oz Tag’, which had started up in 1993 and moved to the UK in 2000 - and caters for all levels of ability; ladies and men’s groups, mixed groups and age groups. In terms of ability there are literally hundreds of teams across the UK at centres like Bristol, Edinburgh and London, which has so many that it is divided into North, South, East and West Regions.
“I play twice on Wednesdays, both ladies and mixed, in the GB League on Thursdays, plus most Saturdays and Sundays, with games that are 20 minutes each way but are played at a very fast pace in teams of eight that has positions known as ‘middles’ (the play directors), ‘rovers’ who call the play tactics and are usually experts at grubber kicks, ‘links’ (who do much of the build-up work and switch play) and ‘wings’ (the speed merchants who are adept at finishing moves off).”
Each player wears a tag on each hip and if one is pulled off by an opponent it ends his time with the ball and the game is played at a real pace.
“When I gave it a try I took to it straight away as I was roped in to a team called ‘Loosie Goosey’and which started out in the bottom division and has done really well so that we have moved from division four up to the top echelon.

Jess in full flight

Jess starts to impress at a higher level

“We play all our home games on Clapham Common and unbelievably there are 40+ leagues just in London - and in 2022 I went to the trials to play for South London in the National Leagues and after settling in there I have this season been to the UK Trials, where they started out with 200 players across all the levels of men’s, women’s and mixed.
“I felt I had done quite well and was pleased to make the last 32, which was cut to 25 for the British and Irish Cup games in Ireland - and even more delighted after we had won all three games and I learned I had been chosen for the final 20 in the World Cup in Limerick.
“”The last championships were played in Australia in 2018, when Women’s 30s (Seniors) won the bronze medal - and although our regular kit is red and navy we will be wearing red, white and navy in the World Cup.
“The coaches are very experienced in specific training so the squad trains twice a week and we also have a five-week plan which includes physio and televisual pointers for tactical purposes. “

All systems go for the big occasion

So now it’s all systems go for the World Championships, which have to be self-funded, with travel and accommodation as heavy costs amongst other things like entry fees and transport.

“We have opened up a ‘Go Fund Me’ page entitled, ‘GB Women’s Open to the World Cup’ - and there is more information with a video on the GB Women’s Open Page that includes video information about all that goes on with our squad.
It’s a fair bet that there will be some Pembrokeshire sporting folk going out to watch Jess Charles play for Great Britain and many others keeping a weather eye on the team’s progressive here - and will be chatting to Jess Charles on her return to see how she gets on!

Jess on another strong burst

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Jess has since returned from The World Cup event, which took place two weeks ago and it was an historic tournament.
Jess told us,
“My team, the Women’s Open category took Silver, just narrowly losing to Australia. This was historic, as it's the first ever Great Britain Open category team to ever make a World Cup final across Women’s, Men’s and Mixed categories.
“We overall took home six medals: One gold, two silver and three bronze.”
We at are extremely proud to tell you about this talented and very modest young lady – and we wish her every success in her future ‘Tag Rugby’ career!