Basic Rules of Rugby - wiki

Rugby is a dynamic and physical team sport known for its unique blend of speed, strength, and strategy. Here's an extensive overview of the basic rules of rugby, which can help beginners understand the game or serve as a refresher for those familiar with it. The game is played in two main forms: Rugby Union and Rugby League, with each having its own set of rules. This overview will focus on Rugby Union, which is the more traditionally played version worldwide.

Objective of the Game

The primary objective in rugby is to score more points than the opposition. Points can be scored in several ways: through tries, conversions, penalty kicks, and drop goals. A try is worth five points and is scored by touching the ball down in the opponents' in-goal area. A conversion, worth two points, is attempted after a try, giving the scoring team a chance to kick the ball between the uprights and over the crossbar of the goalposts. Penalty kicks and drop goals are both worth three points each and are other methods of scoring.

The Playing Field

The rugby field, or pitch, is a large grassy area, 100 meters long and 70 meters wide, with H-shaped goalposts at each end. The field is marked with lines indicating the halfway point, the 22-meter line, and the in-goal area, which is similar to the end zone in American football.

Number of Players

A Rugby Union team consists of 15 players: eight forwards, who are generally larger and stronger, specializing in possession and physicality, and seven backs, known for their speed and agility, focusing on breaking the opposition's defensive line. Substitutes are allowed, with the number varying depending on the level of competition.

Duration of the Game

A standard rugby match is played over two halves, each lasting 40 minutes, with a short break in between. The clock is stopped for various reasons, such as injuries or for the referee to make decisions, ensuring that the ball is in play for as much of those 40 minutes as possible.

Starting the Game

The game begins with a kickoff, where one team kicks the ball to the other. The receiving team then attempts to catch the ball and advance it up the field. The game is restarted with a kickoff after each score.

Basic Play

Rugby is continuous, meaning the game does not stop for tackles as it does in American football. When a player is tackled, they must release the ball, allowing both teams to compete for possession in what is known as a ruck. The game flows between open play and set pieces (scrums and lineouts) which restart the game after certain infringements.

Tackling and Defense

Tackles in rugby must be made below the shoulders. Once a player is tackled, they must release or play the ball immediately. Defending players aim to gain possession through rucks or by intercepting passes.

Set Pieces

  • Scrums are used to restart play after minor infractions, such as forward passes or knock-ons. The forwards from each team bind together and push against each other, while the scrum-half feeds the ball into the tunnel formed by the two sets of forwards.
  • Lineouts occur when the ball goes out of bounds. Players from each team line up parallel to each other, and the ball is thrown in from the side, with players lifting teammates to catch the ball.

Offside and Penalties

Players are offside if they are in front of the ball when it has been played by a teammate, preventing them from participating in play until they return to an onside position. Penalties are awarded for various infringements, such as playing the ball on the ground, offside, or dangerous play. Teams may choose to kick for goal, kick for territory, or tap the ball and run with it.

The Spirit of the Game

Rugby is as much about sportsmanship and respect as it is about physicality and skill. Respect for the referee, opponents, and teammates is paramount, with traditions that emphasize camaraderie, such as teams applauding each other off the field after a match, being a core part of the rugby culture.

These basic rules provide a foundation for understanding Rugby Union. The game's complexity and the variety of strategies employed make it a rich and rewarding sport to follow and play.

Rugby Cups

List of all rugby cups.

Rugby Leagues

List of all rugby leagues.