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Basic Rugby Rules

Basic Rugby Rules

If you’re new to rugby here is a short description of the rules…

The game of rugby was invented over one hundred years ago by some Web Ellis in the Rugby School in England. It began as a variation on what is today football and has since spawned American Football. Rugby can be a very complicated game to understand when coming from a football background. This short tutorial should give a good background on the basics of rugby.

Rugby is played with a ball many have described as a pregnant football. The field is 100 meters long and up to 70 meters wide.

rugby players score tries. This is done by running into the endzone and touching the ball to the ground . This try is worth five points. Following the try the team that scores is given a chance to kick the ball through the posts for two points. This is called a conversion. The conversion kick is taken from a spot on the field where the try was touched down at. This is the reason why many times a player will try to touch the ball down between the posts. A final way to score is to kick the ball through the posts either on a penalty or a drop kick, each one being worth three points.

The one fundamental rule of rugby is that the ball can never be passed forward. Anytime a pass goes forward play is stopped. To restart play the teams gather into two groups to form a scrummage or scrum. The ball is rolled between the two sides and the hookers try to kick the ball back to their side.

Play also stops whenever the ball is put out of bounds (in touch). To restart play the teams form a lineout. Again the ball is tossed between the two teams, this time in the air. The two sides jump and try to gain posession of the ball.

When a player is tackled to the ground he must release the ball. The two sides then try to push over the ball and the tackled player. This is known as rucking . Only the acting scrumhalf can dig the ball out with his hands. The others can only push or try to kick the ball out.

Sometimes a tackled player does not make it to the ground. When this happens a maul is formed . Now the players will try to rip the ball away from the ball carrier.

Each side consists of 15 players and up to 7 replacements. Each player has a position. These are:


Loose Head Prop (No 1) – A loose head prop is at the front of each scrum. They are traditionally very strong, sometimes quite short and squat. They possess very good neck, back, leg and arm strength, as they are the foundation of the scrum.

Hooker (No 2) – A hooker is the person who packs down in the middle of the front row of the scrum. They traditionally throw the ball in at the lineouts, and like props are very strong in the neck, back, legs and arms. However, hookers are normally slightly smaller than props and have to be flexible because, as their name implies, they hook the ball back with a leg or foot when the scrum half puts the ball in to a scrum. This takes considerable flexibility in the hips and shoulders.

Tight Head Prop (No 3) – Same attributes as the loose head but packs down the tight head side (right hand) of the scrum, which requires different scrummage technique to a loose head (left hand)

Lock or Second Row (No 4&5) -This position is referred to as the “engine room” second rows provide the push in the scrum and generally are the persons who jump for the ball in the lineout. Second rows are normally tall, very athletic and have an excellent standing jump along with good strength.

Flankers or Wing Forwards (No 6&7) – Considered the position where the player should have all round attributes, speed strength fitness handling skills amongst other skills. Flankers are always involved in the game, as they are the real ball winners once play has commenced. Flankers can be broken down into open side and blind side. The open side being normally smaller, faster and more mobile as he starts play nearer to the potential action and needs to be the first person to arrive. The blindside being larger as he has a more physical role to play at the lineout and may well be used as a jumper.

No 8 (No 8) – Packs down at the rear of the scrum and therefore controls the ball out of the scrum. A very influential position and is often used to attack with a pickup of the scrum. Normally tall and athletic and used as an option to win the ball in the lineout.


Scrum Half (No 9) – The person who is the link between the forwards and the backs. Normally acts as the ‘General’ for the forwards and is always in the hub of the action. A scrum half is normally quite small but with a high degree of vision and speed off the mark, and pound-for-pound is very strong. They have to able to react to situation very quickly. A key player on any team.

Fly Half (No 10) – Often considered the most influential person on the field the fly half is the person who makes the key decision during a game. Responsible for deciding whether to kick or to run the ball, the fly half should be very fast, able to kick off both feet and operate in pressurized situations.

Center (No 12 & 13) – Centers provide the cutting edge to a side. They are the “Rapiers” that are given the ball normally via the fly half to make breaks through the opposition backs or can also act as decoys for other attacking options for the backs. A Center should be very strong fast and able to pass with pinpoint accuracy.

Wing (No 11 & 14) – The wingers are the finishers of the game. The idea being that the space should be created by the forwards and backs inside the wingers so once they receive the ball they have a clear run to use their speed and agility to score tries. Need to be very fast and able to link and side step to finish off scoring situations.

Full Back (No 15) – This player should posses great courage as he is likely to be the person who will be required to catch the high kicks referred to as “up and unders” or “bombs”. The Full Back is also an essential part of any side’s attacking option; a full back will appear in the back line as an extra man or as a decoy to provide space for the wings. Like all backs, the Full Back should have good speed and very good kicking skills.


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