Rules and Regulations: NFL Flag (Schools)

Last updated: November 13, 2023

Download a PDF here – LYG24_NFL Flag_Info_Rules

NFL 1 The event will run in accordance with the NFL Flag Rules

NFL 1.1 Should any rules listed below contradict those outlined by NFL, these rules will supersede those.

NFL 1.2 It will be at the sole discretion of the Competition Director as to the application of these rules, and any subsequent decision made as a result will be final.

NFL 1.3 The Tournament Organisers reserve the rights to alter or amend the playing schedule if necessary and make decisions on any matters arising during the tournament, including any matters not covered by the tournament regulations.

NFL 1.4 The Competition Director reserves the right to suspend/cancel the event where required by weather/unsafe conditions.


NFL 2 Age Category

NFL 2.1 The following age groups and respective maximum and minimum date of births will apply to the School Games NFL Flag Competition:

Age Category Oldest DOB Youngest DOB Likely School Year
U11 (Mixed) 01/09/2012 31/08/2014 Year 5 – 6
U13 (Mixed) 01/09/2010 31/08/2012 Years 7 – 8
U15 (Girls) 01/09/2008 31/08/2010 Years 9 – 10

NFL 2.2 Competitors are not permitted to enter this competition if they are ineligible. No exceptions will be made.

NFL 2.3 It is the responsibility of competitors/teachers/School Games Organisers staff to ensure all competitors details are entered correctly at the time of submission.

NFL 2.3.1 In the instance a competitor is found to be ineligible, they will be disqualified from the competition entirely.


NFL 3 Eligibility

NFL 3.1 Competition Tier: Higher

NFL 3.2 Competition Intent: Highly competitive environment where winning is the measure of success and level challenge is high, in order to further the development of young athletes. Local qualifying events are encouraged, with the winning school progressing to the county final.

NFL 3.3 Player Eligibility: Aimed at children and young people who enjoy competition and may regularly access training and coaching outside of the school environment. Participants are used to competing in sport inside and outside of school have a higher skill ability and understand tactics and strategies in competitive game play situations.


NFL 4 Squad Size Schools are permitted to bring a minimum of 7 competitors and a maximum of 10 competitors.

NFL 4.1 Schools are permitted to bring all 10 competitors entered in the event on the day, however only 5 players will be on the pitch per team.

NFL 4.1.1 For the Under 11 & Under 13 mixed competitions, teams must have a minimum of 1 girl on the pitch at all times and therefore squad composition should include a minimum of 2 girls.


NFL 5 Kit & Equipment

NFL 5.1 All players must wear a flag belt. The belt must be worn around the waist with jersey’s tucked in to shorts or bottoms. The tags are positioned on either side of the hips. If schools do not have flag belts, then these will be provided on the day.

NFL 5.1.1 We recommend that players wear shorts or bottoms that do not have pockets.

NFL 5.2 Players must wear suitable shoes. Metal studs are not permitted.

NFL 5.2.1 The U13 (Mixed) competition ONLY will take place on the AGP pitch, where moulded stud football boots MUST be worn. Please see footwear guidelines for this below.

NFL 5.3 Players must wear a gumshield.

NFL 5.4 Approx playing pitch size: 70 yards x 25 yards .

NFL 5.5 Official NFL match balls will be provided.


NFL 6 Competition and Draw Format

NFL 6.1 NFL is a modified version of NFL designed to assist the understanding of individuals new to American football.

NFL 6.2 Matches will be 20 minutes with no half time.

NFL 6.2.1 The clock only stops for injuries. Times are subject to change based on the specific tournament’s details.

NFL 6.2.2 Each time the ball is spotted the offense has 30 seconds to snap the ball. Teams will be reminded of the play clock when only 10 seconds remain. Teams will also, receive one warning before delay of game is called.

NFL 6.2.3 In the event of an injury, the clock will stop until it is safe for play to resume.

NFL 6.3 Round robin format into knockouts/play off for final positions.

NFL 6.3.1 No seeding. Groups will be allocated at random.

NFL 6.3.2 Number of groups and group sizes will be subject to entry numbers.

NFL 6.4 The winners of the Under 11 & Under 13 competitions will be invited to progress to the NFL National Championship.


NFL 7 Competition Rules

NFL 7.1 Maximum of 5 players (including one girls) from each team on the pitch at one time.

NFL 7.1.1 Substitutions are unlimited. Substitutions can only take place when the ball is dead. ball becomes live on the snap and remains live until the official whistles, declaring the ball dead. The ball is ruled dead when:

  • The ball hits the ground (if the ball hits the ground as the result of a bad snap the ball is
  • spotted where the ball hits the ground as a loss of yardage).*
  • The ball-carriers flag is pulled or falls out.
  • The ball-carrier steps out of bounds, a touchdown, PAT, 2PAT or safety is scored.
  • The ball-carriers knee, elbow, back or torso hits the ground.
  • The ball carrier receives possession with one or no flag (s).
  • The 7 second pass clock expires.
  • Following an incomplete pass.
  • The ball is deliberately kicked at any time.
  • Inadvertent whistle.
  • Including for a flag or penalty

NFL 7.1.2 In the case of injury, a team can continue with a minimum of 4 players.

NFL 7.2 At the start of each game, captains from both teams meet at midfield for the coin toss to determine who starts with the ball. The visiting team (team listed second on the fixture) calls the toss.

NFL 7.2.1 The winner of the coin toss has the choice of offence or defence. The loser of the coin toss has the choice of direction. Possession changes to start the second half to the team that started the game on defence.

NFL 7.3 The offensive team takes possession of the ball at its 5-yard line and has four (4) plays to cross midfield. Once a team crosses midfield, it has four (4) plays to score a touchdown.

NFL 7.3.1 If the offence fails to score or fails to cross midfield with their first set of downs the ball changes possession, with play starting on the 5 yard line of the team obtaining that possession.

NFL 7.3.2 If the defending intercepts the ball the player in possession of the ball can advance the ball to score. if the player fails to score the ball is spotted where the flag pull is made, or the player runs out of bounds.

NFL 7.4 The tempo of the game is to be dictated by the referee and not the players or coaches involved. The ball can only be spotted by an official. This dictates the Line of scrimmage.

NFL 7.4.1 Coaches must not be on the field of play when the ball is snapped.

NFL 7.5 A touchdown is scored when a player has possession of the ball in the endzone by crossing the line with the ball or catching the ball in the endzone. A touchdown awards 6 points.

NFL 7.6 Point After Touchdown (PAT): Following a touchdown, the scoring team can select either a one or a two-point PAT attempt. A one-point PAT is taken from the 5-yard line and must be a passing play. If the attempt is successful one point is awarded. A two-point PAT is taken from the 10-yard line and can be either a run or a pass play. If the attempt is successful two points are awarded.

NFL 7.6.1 During a PAT attempt, should the defending team intercept the ball they can progress it and attempt to score. Should the interception be returned to the endzone 2 points are awarded from a 1- or 2-point attempt.

NFL 7.6.2 A PAT is always a standalone play. Regardless of PAT outcome, play resumes from the 5-yard line. Should the ball carrier have their flag pulled, fumble the football, or step out of bounds in their own endzone, a safety is awarded to the defending team. This also occurs if the snap goes out the back of the endzone. A safety is worth 2 points.

NFL 7.7 Once a team has a 28-point advantage the game is ruled complete, and the game will continue as a scrimmage with no score being added. Forfeits are recorded as a 28-0 win in the favour of the winning team.

NFL 7.8 Running

NFL 7.8.1 Offensive player may progress the ball by carrying in hands towards the opponents endzone.

NFL 7.8.2 A run will be deemed to be over, and the ball will be spotted, at the foremost position of the ball:

  • when a flag pull is made.
  • when the ball carrier steps out of bounds.
  • when an offensive foul is committed.
  • the ball crosses the end zone line under possession of an offensive player.

NFL 7.8.3 The ball carrier is ruled out of bounds when any part of the ball carriers body touches the ground over the boundary line.

NFL 7.8.4 The quarterback is defined as the offensive player who receives the snap. The quarterback cannot run with the ball beyond the line of scrimmage.

NFL 7.8.5 Only direct handoffs may take place behind the line of scrimmage. Handoffs may be forwards, laterally or backwards. An offence may use multiple handoffs per play. (A handoff is the complete transfer of possession from one offensive player to another, conducted behind the line of scrimmage, excluding transfer through the air.)

NFL 7.8.6 Lateral passes are not permitted beyond the line of scrimmage.

NFL 7.8.7 Running plays are not permitted on a down that is inside the no run zone.

NFL 7.8.8 Any player who receives a handoff or lateral pass behind the line of scrimmage is eligible to attempt a forward pass, providing that player has not yet crossed the line of scrimmage.

NFL 7.8.9 Ball-carriers must always remain under control. Deliberate jumping, diving and leaping is not permitted.

NFL 7.8.10 Spinning is permitted but ball carriers cannot leave their feet to avoid a flag pull. If a player spins out of control, they will be ruled as flag guarding.

NFL 7.8.11 Ball-carriers may leave their feet if there is clear indication that the ball-carrier is doing so to avoid a collision.

NFL 7.8.12 Offensive players cannot impede defenders at any point. Once the ball-carrier has crossed the line of scrimmage offensive players without possession of the ball must remain still. No running with the ball carrier.

NFL 7.8.13 Clothing cannot obstruct a player’s flag belt.

NFL 7.9 Passing

NFL 7.9.1 Each team is only allowed one forward pass per play. Forward passes don’t have to

travel beyond the line of scrimmage.

NFL 7.9.2 All passes must be thrown from behind the line of scrimmage. A passer is ruled behind the line of scrimmage if they have any part of the body on or behind the line of scrimmage.

NFL 7.9.3 The quarterback is allowed to throw the ball away to avoid a sack.

NFL 7.9.4 The quarterback has a 7 second “pass clock.” If a pass is not thrown within those 7 seconds, the play is ruled dead. The down is consumed, and the ball is returned to the most recent line of scrimmage.

NFL 7.9.5 Once the ball is handed off the 7 second rule is no longer in effect. If the quarterback is standing in their own endzone when the pass clock expires the ball is returned to the previous line of scrimmage and is not ruled a safety.

NFL 7.10 Receiving

NFL 7.10.1 All players are eligible to receive a pass. Including the quarterback should the ball have been handed off behind the line of scrimmage.

NFL 7.10.2 A player who receives possession of the ball in the air is ruled inbounds if the player has placed at least one foot inbounds before stepping out of bounds.

NFL 7.10.3 In the case of simultaneous possession of the ball by both an offensive and defensive player the ball is awarded to the offence.


NFL 8 Overall Scoring Points will be awarded for each game to give a schools round robin standing.

NFL 8.1 The following points will be awarded:

  • 3 points for a win
  • 1 point for a draw
  • 1 point for a loss


NFL 8.1.1 Tied teams in groups will be decided on:

  • Match points
  • Points differences
  • Points for
  • Points against

NFL For groups with three or less teams, tied teams will be decided on head-to-head result.

NFL 8.2 In the event of a tie in the knockouts, teams will compete in overtime. Overtime will be played in a sudden death format which consists of:

  • A coin toss to decide who begins with the ball.
  • Teams will take turns attempting a 1-point PAT in a sudden death format.
  • Overtime will progress in rounds of each team attempting a PAT. Overtime ends following a round in which one team scores and the other team does not.
  • The final point scored by the winning team will be added to the final score. For example,
  • if the score is 14 – 14 at the end of regulation Team A wins in overtime the score will be
  • recorded as 15 -14 (OT).


NFL 9 Medals & Trophies Team medals awarded to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd placed teams in each competition, and a salver awarded to the winners of each competition.