Primarily during the 19th Century this game was played by the men and boys. It wouldn't be proper in most circles for the women to join in. That does not mean you can't have a heroine participate but you would need to make it a very compelling reason for her to do such a thing.
TUG OF WAR.
This is an exceedingly lively game, giving exercise to the muscles of the chest and arms. It is played by two parties, as nearly equal in numbers and strength as can be mustered ; one party takes hold of one end of a strong rope, while their antagonists take hold of the other; each party then strives to pull the other over a line chalked or marked on the ground for the purpose, and those who are so pulled over, being made prisoners, lose the game.
In this game two leaders should be appointed, who must calculate the powers of their own side, and concert plans accordingly. The leader of either side should have a code of signals, in order to communicate with his own friends, that he may direct them when to stop, when to slacken, or when to pull hard. So important is the leader's office, that a side with a good leader will always vanquish a much superior force which has no commander to guide it. For example, when all the boys are pulling furiously at the rope, the leader of one side sees that his opponents are leaning back too much, depending on their weight more than on their strength. He immediately gives the signal to slacken, when down go half the enemy on their backs, and are run away with merrily by the successful party, who drag them over the mark with the greatest ease. Or if the enemy begins to be wearied with hard pulling, a unanimous tug will often bring them upright while they are off their guard, and, once moved, the victory is easily gained. No knots are to be permitted on the rope. In the school-boy game of tug of war the game is not to be considered as won unless the entire side has been dragged over the line.