What is rugby?

Rugby is not just a sport - it is a lifestyle! Rugby is played in many different variations, the most common being 15's rugby, which simply means there are 15 players per team, with 2 teams playing against each other. However, 7's - which is 7 players per team on the field, has also in the more recent years, become massively popular and was re-introduced in the 2016 Rio Olympics, as an official olympic sport.
Very simply put, the game features a combination of speed, strategy, and strength and the main goal is to get the ball into your opponents side of the field and score a try behind the tryline.

The game kicks off from the middle of the field (the spot on the middle of the halfway line) and the ball must be drop kicked (the ball must touch the ground before kicking it) at least 10 meters forward. The receiving team will then aim to catch the ball and begin open play by carrying the ball forward - you can only pass the ball to your teammates by passing backwards or sideways, never forward.

Here is a quick video which explains some of the basics of rugby - we've also outlined them below.

The Basics 

There are four ways to score points in a rugby game. 

Try – When the ball is grounded over an opponents’ goal line in their ‘try zone’ it is worth 5 points. 

Conversion – After scoring a try the scoring team gets an attempt to kick the ball over the crossbar and between the uprights. A conversion is worth 2    points. 

Penalty – If the opposition commits a penalty, a team can choose to kick at the goal. A penalty kick is worth 3 points. 

Drop Goal – During open play a player may drop the ball so it touches the ground and kick it over the goal, this is called a drop goal. This is worth 3    points.

Traditional rugby with 15 players on each side consists of two 40 minute halves and a 10 minute half time. 

Rugby is played on a field not exceeding 100 meters in length (excluding two try zones) and 70 meters wide. 


The rugby ball can only be passed laterally or backwards. Forward passes are not allowed. If a forward pass is made it is an infringement of the rules and results in a scrum awarded to the other team. 


Rugby is a continuous, full contact sport. What this means is that once a tackle is made, play continues. A tackle occurs when the ball carrier is taken to the ground by a member of the opposition. Once tackled, a ball carrier must release the ball. Once a player makes a tackle, he/she must roll away from the play. 


Once a player is tackled to the ground and the ball is released, a ruck is formed when one or more players from each team close around the ball and attempt to drive over the ball and 'ruck' it backwards with their feet. The ball then emerges and play continues. 


When the ball carrier and ball are held up by a member of the opposition and by a member on his/her own team, it is called a maul. The ball can either be removed from the maul or taken to the ground, which then forms a ruck. 


A scrum is used to restart play after a minor infringement occurs (i.e. forward pass). The scrum consists of eight of the 15 players, called forwards. These eight players bind together and engage head to head with the eight players of the opposition. The ball is rolled into the middle of the scrum on the ground and the players work with their feet to hook the ball behind them, making it available to play. The ball is then collected by the scrumhalf and passed out to the back line. 


When the ball goes out of bounds, play is restarted with a lineout. The lineout consists of two lines, one from each team, with a maximum of eight players standing behind each other facing the touchline at the point wher the ball went out of play. The ball is thrown into the gap between the lines, usually at a considerable height. Teams will lift players to contest for the ball.


Number of Players
Traditional rugby consists of 15 players on each side (8 forwards and 7 backs). Other versions of the game include 10 a side (5 forwards and 5 backs) and the very popular 7 a side (3 forwards and 4 backs), commonly known as Sevens. The 15 a side version of Rugby was an Olympic sport until it was dropped after the 1924 games. However, in October 2009, the IOC voted at its session in Copenhagen to include the sevens version of the sport in the Olympics. Rugby sevens was thereafter played as a demonstration sport at the 2012 London Olympics and  the sport was formally added to the Olympic agenda at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.


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