Red Rover

For other uses, see Red Rover (disambiguation).
For the game played in South Africa, see British bulldogs (game).
Youths playing red rover

Red rover (also known as forcing the city gates and octopus tag) is a game played primarily by children on playgrounds.This 19th-century children's group game (requiring around 10 or more players total)[1] is thought to have originated in the United Kingdom and then spread to Australia, Canada, and the United States.


The game is played between two lines of players (usually called the "East" or "West" team, although this does not relate to the actual relative location of the teams), usually positioned approximately thirty feet apart. The game starts when the first team, in this example the "East" team, calls a player out, by saying or singing a line like "Red rover, red rover, send [player on opposite team] right over".

The immediate goal for the person called is to run to the other line and break the "East" team's chain (formed by the linking of hands). If the player called fails to break the chain, they join the "East" team. However, if the player successfully breaks the chain, they may select either of the two "links" broken by the successful run, and take them to join the "West" team. The "West" team then calls out "Red rover" for a player on the "East" team, and play continues. The game needs five people to play at least, although this would be a very short game.

When only one player is left on a team, they also must try and break through a link. If they do not succeed, then the opposing team wins. Otherwise, they are able to get a player back for their team.[1][2]

In Russia and other former USSR countries, this game has been known as "Ali Baba", in Hungary as "adj, király, katonát!" (Send, o king, a soldier!) and in Serbia as "Јелечкиње, барјачкиње" (jelečkinje, barjačkinje, i.e., city crier and flag bearer).

In the Czech Republic, the game is known as "král vysílá své vojsko" (the king sends out all his army), and the difference is that each team chooses which of its members will attempt to break the other team's line, rather than sending the member called by the other team.

See also


  1. 1 2 "Red Rover: A Traditional Favorite Outdoor Game". Retrieved 27 October 2010.
  2. "Red Rover". 2007-01-28. Retrieved 2010-06-26.
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