Rugby 101

Check out these quick rugby facts about how the game is played. Want to learn more? Download a Beginner’s Guide to Rugby here.

1. Types of Rugby – Rugby is played around the world in two main versions of the game: Olympic Rugby and 15s. Olympic Rugby is played with seven players on a side for two seven-minute halves. This version of the game will be found in the Olympic Games in 2016. The more traditional version of the game is 15s where games are played with 15 players for two 35-minute halves. There are also both contact and non-contact versions of the game.

2. Continuous Game – Similar to the game of soccer, rugby is a continuous game where the ball is constantly moving and play will not stop unless a team has scored, the ball goes out of bounds, or a penalty is given. Unlike football, tackling in rugby is a great thing and play will continue after a tackle is made!

3. Passing – The game of rugby is played with lateral and/or backwards passing. At no time in the game is a forward pass allowed. If a forward pass is made, a scrum will be awarded to the opposing team.

4. Scoring Points – Scoring points in rugby can occur in the following four ways:

  • Score a Try 5 points – This occurs when a team touches the ball to the ground in the opposing team’s try zone.
  • Kick a Conversion – 2 points – After a try is scored, the scoring team has a chance to kick through the uprights for 2 points.
  • Take a Penalty Kick – 3 points – A team has the option for a penalty kick through the uprights after the opposing team has committed a penalty.
  • Drop Goals – 3 points – Drop goals can occur during open play at any time and from anywhere on the field. The ball must be drop-kicked in order to count.

5. What are they doing? Rugby is known for having funny-sounding names for things done on the field. Here are two common things you will see when play restarts:

  • Scrum – A scrum is awarded after a minor infringement of the rules such as a forward pass. In 15s, a scrum occurs with eight players from one team going head to head with eight players from the opposite team. A scrum is similar to a jump ball in basketball.
  • Lineout – When the ball goes out of bounds, play is restarted with a lineout. This contest for the ball will involve players being lifted in the area in hopes of recovery.
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