A Complete Guide to Rugby, Information, Tips & Tricks

Rugby is the most popular game in New Zealand, with over a million people playing. But it’s not just for Kiwis anymore – international rugby is booming too! Rugby players will often like to know how to play better and win more games. Here are some key tips that can help you make your way into the top three teams at your school or club!.

Rugby is a sport that is played between two teams of 15 players. The objective of the game is to score more points than the opponent. There are three different types of rugby, which are: Rugby Union, Rugby League and Rugby Sevens.

Vintage men playing rugby in snowy ground.

Rugby, in its current form, is one of the most thrilling contact sports on the planet, combining the pace and mobility of soccer with the hard-hitting physicality of American football. The Rugby World Cup is the world’s third most popular athletic event, after the FIFA World Cup and the Summer Olympics. While we in the United States like football, the rest of the world enjoys rugby. The 2003 World Cup had a global viewership of nearly 3.5 billion people and was aired in 205 countries. Perhaps it’s past time for us Americans to understand what all the hoopla is about…

The following will serve as a basic introduction to rugby, from its history to its aims and fundamental regulations, as well as some pointers on where you may find possibilities to play yourself.

Before we get into the specifics of how to play rugby, it’s important to clarify what sort of rugby we’re talking about. Rugby Union and Rugby League are the two primary forms of play. While there are numerous parallels between the two games, they are fundamentally distinct. The emphasis of this essay will be on Rugby Union, which is the more popular of the two sports.

Equipment and the Field

In size and form, a rugby ball is most comparable to an American football, however it is bigger and most current models do not have laces.

Gilbert rugby ball in ground.

There isn’t much in the way of personal belongings. In regulation play, a mouthpiece is required, and a scrum hat, a soft-padded headgear with the primary goal of protecting the pack player’s ears in the scrum, is optional. Scrum hats resemble the original leather helmets used by American football players.

A rugby playing field, often known as the pitch, is a vast grassy area that is 100 meters long and 70 meters broad, with uprights on either end. The goal area, which must be at least 10 meters deep and is generally 22 meters deep, is located behind the uprights. The figure below depicts the line marks.

Rugby field measurements chart.

Positions and Players

On the field, there are two teams, each with 15 players. A team’s players are divided into two distinct groups: the pack and the backs. In general, the pack is made up of bigger, more physical players, similar to defensive linemen in American football. Backs, like the backfield and receivers in American football, are generally the speedier, more maneuverable players. Pack players are represented by jersey numbers 1-8, while backs are represented by jersey numbers 9-15. The following figure depicts the breakdown of the fifteen different positions on the field of play:

Rugby players positions in ground illustration.

Game Play

Rugby game play is not too sophisticated, but it might be perplexing to those who are inexperienced with the sport. This is due to the fact that, although it has some parallels to other sports, it is considerably different from the games to which we attempt to compare it (namely soccer and American football). Carrying the ball is permissible, unlike soccer, which makes it more akin to football in many aspects. In contrast to football, rugby does not allow forward passes, and match play is only interrupted for penalties, not every play.


A regulation-length game lasts 80 minutes, divided into two 40-minute halves with a 10-minute halftime break. The time is always ticking, and play only comes to a halt for penalties throughout the match. Essentially, the ordinary rugby player is always moving, alternating between jogging and sprinting. As a result, rugby necessitates a high degree of physical condition, and you won’t see many of these individuals on the pitch:

Ben Jones playing rugby portrait.

The Game’s Objective

Rugby’s purpose is to score tries, or touchdowns, by touching down the ball within the other team’s end zone. Any player with the ball has the ability to score. A try is worth 5 points, following which a conversion kick is provided, giving the team the opportunity to score two more points if the kick is successful. There are additional ways to score as well, the first of which is a drop goal. This is scored when a player kicks the ball through the uprights of the opposing team during play. The ball must make contact with the ground before being kicked to count as a drop goal (essentially dropped then kicked, making it a difficult maneuver). For certain offences, a penalty kick may be awarded, allowing for a free kick from the infraction’s location (as long as it is behind the 22 meter line). The penalty kick is worth three points as well.

So, how do teams put points on the board? Various aspects arise throughout play as a result of particular circumstances. We may study these factors by following along with a hypothetical scenario of how a match would unfold.


A kickoff from the 50 meter line occurs at the start of the game and soon after halftime. Before the contest starts, a coin toss determines who will kick off. After a team scores a try, a kickoff is also taken. Another way rugby varies from American football is that it is a “make it, take it” sport, with the scoring team getting the next kickoff.

Movement of the Ball

Players will try to progress the ball up the field by running, passing, or kicking it after receiving the kick. Any player may carry the ball; however, teammates are not permitted to impede opponents from tackling the ball carrier, and using teammates as a shield while carrying the ball is prohibited. Passing is permitted, but only in the form of a reverse lateral, which means the player to whom you are passing must be on the opposite side of the field of play from you. Penalties are assessed for laterals and forward laterals. Finally, the ball carrier may find it beneficial to kick the ball over the defenders, enabling himself or another teammate to run it down or catch it (receiving your own or a teammate’s kick is legal).

The Ruck

Assume the ball carrier gets tackled by the defense at this moment. The ruck is what develops as a result of this. The ball carrier will try to roll so that his back is towards the defense and will protect the ball with his body while being tackled. All of this must happen at the same time as the tackle, since a player on the ground is not permitted to guard or touch the ball with his hands in any way. While the tackled player shields the ball, his team’s pack players (typically two or three) would move over him to keep the defense away from the ball, which anybody may collect at this time. If the defense does not collect the ball, another offensive player, generally the scrum half, will come in, receive it, and pass it to the backs, letting the game to continue.


The Scrum

Assume there is a penalty as the game progresses. The official will offer the opposing side with choices based on the infraction. Many infractions result in a scrum being handed to the other side. A scrum is the most well-known of the rugby forms, and you’ve probably seen photos of it. It’s a set play in which both teams’ pack members create three rows of three players apiece (3 men, then 4 men, then 1 man). After both teams have formed this shape, the two masses face each other and lock shoulders, forming a tunnel between the front rows. The two teams drive against one other upon the official’s signal, and the attacking scrum half throws the ball into the tunnel. The goal is to force the other team to give up the ball by carrying it beneath your own side (no hands permitted) and into the hands of the scrum half, who is now waiting for it. If this goes well, the ball is handed to the backs, and the game continues. The scrum is a tough environment that was most likely the source for Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poem:

“Whoever wants to be a man must be a nonconformist who prefers to play in a pack.”

Here’s a great example of a scrum:


The Output Line

As the game progresses, a ball carrier gets tackled out of bounds, or into touch in rugby. Play comes to a halt at this juncture, and the opposing team receives a line-out. In a line-out, an offensive player tosses the ball over a tunnel made by opposing teams, and the lifters raise jumpers into the air in an attempt to catch the ball before the other team. The lifters and jumpers must be pack members. The attacking side has the advantage in that they may choose how many players to employ in the line-out, whereas the defense can only use an equal number or fewer. In addition, the offensive frequently uses strategy, with the player throwing the ball at a height and distance that the defense is unaware of. To allow both sides a realistic opportunity to take control, the ball must be tossed directly over the tunnel. Once the jumper has control of the ball, he or she either passes it to the scrum half or is lowered down and hands it off to the scrum half, and play continues.

Here’s an example of a line-out:


The Maul

The side in possession of the ball is on the verge of scoring. A player gets a ball and drives past multiple defenders, approaching the try zone. However, he is tackled by numerous defenders before he can enter and touch down the ball. Instead of collapsing to the ground, he keeps his balance, turns away from the defenders trying to tackle him, and begins efficiently guarding the ball. What’s going on is now referred to be a maul. A maul is essentially a standing, mobile version of a ruck. In order to gain ground, offensive pack players will rush in and bind onto the ball carrier, propelling him forward. While it is forbidden for the ball carrier to ground the ball after a maul has started, he may pass it to another player. The scrum half will usually grab the ball from him and transfer it to the backs, allowing the game to continue.


Attempting a Conversion and Scoring a Try

The ball has been transferred off of the maul and into the hands of one of the backs, who carries it into the try zone and puts it down to give his side a five-point lead. For points to be given, the ball must be touched down. Because the conversion kick is launched from the same place on the 22 meter line (or closer/further back if the kicker chooses), it’s also necessary to examine where the ball is touched down. As a result, if a player scores a try by touching the ball down in the far right corner of the try zone, the ball will be put up for the conversion even with that point on the 22 meter line, making the kicker’s work much more difficult.


I won’t go into great length about the different penalties since this is only an introduction, but here are some of the most important ones to remember:

  • There will be no forward or lateral passing.
  • A knock on is a dropped pass that results in a penalty.
  • There will be no tackling of an aerial athlete.
  • There will be no neck tackling.
  • Any offensive player on the field ahead of the kicker is deemed off sides and may not engage in play until the kicker has moved past him. A penalty is assessed if you participate in play after a kick while ahead of the kicker.

In a nutshell, that’s how a rugby game is played. Of course, rugby, like other sports, is much more complex than what can be covered in a single (not so short) essay, therefore this should just be regarded “the fundamentals.” Let’s take a look at some of the most well-known teams and players in professional rugby, as well as some of the venues where you may play.

Rugby is a professional sport.

Rugby is divided into numerous professional levels. For example, in the United Kingdom, there are a number of city teams that are the equivalent of professional football teams in the United States. However, there is an international level above this, which might be termed the “big show.” The most watched rugby events are international teams, which are made up of representatives from city teams throughout the globe. The phrase “away game” takes on new significance when flying from Australia to London to play rugby. Here’s a brief rundown of a few of the finest international squads.

The Springboks of South Africa

The Springboks are the current World Cup champions, having beaten England 15-6 in 2007. They are constantly a competitor on the world stage, and Nelson Mandela even referred to the squad as “the pride of the whole country.”

The All Blacks of New Zealand

“You may go to the end of time, to the last World Cup in human history, and the All Blacks will be the favorites.” -Phil Kearns, former Australia rugby captain

Few would argue that the New Zealand All Blacks are the most popular rugby team. They have been a top contender for as long as anybody can remember. This is the team to watch, with a roster of former and current all-stars lengthy enough to fill two teams. In addition, they start each game by facing the opposing team and performing one of their renditions of the Maori war dance known as the Haka:



While international rugby has produced a number of great players, one All Black stands out above the others. Jonah Lomu, the first international rugby celebrity, was a force to be reckoned with on the field. He was notorious for making the million-dollar athletes around him seem like playground stuff. He was a monster of a guy with the pace of an Olympic sprinter. An anonymous fax once arrived in the All Blacks locker room before a World Cup final. It said:

“Remember, rugby is a team sport; make sure all 14 of you give the ball to Jonah.”

To give you an idea of his athletic talent, the Dallas Cowboys once gave him a six-million-dollar deal despite the fact that he had never played American football before. Here’s an example of Lomu’s magic in action:


Okay, it piques my attention. What is the best way for me to get involved?

There are a few different possibilities depending on your age. Most colleges of considerable size now have their own rugby club, the majority of which are established and controlled by students, although some do employ coaching staff.

Men’s leagues are the way to go for everyone else. These are independently organized teams that are governed by USARugby. These groups provide men of all ages the chance to play rugby and compete in a healthy way. A men’s club may be found in almost any decent-sized city, and they are constantly looking for more members. Teams are supported by nominal club dues paid by players (used to finance socials and equipment). Men’s clubs in your region may be found by doing a simple Google search.

Both sorts of organizations urge players with no prior rugby experience to apply and will quickly bring you up to speed.



Watch This Video-

Rugby is a sport that can be difficult to understand, but this guide will provide you with all the information and tips you need. It will give you some of the basics for playing rugby for beginners. Reference: how to play rugby for beginners.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are 5 important rules of rugby?

A: 1. The team with the most points at the end of a game is considered to have won that game, so its important that a good strategy is put in place before games start 2. There are two types of tries- 3rd and 5th phase 4. Scrums occur when the ball goes out- this usually happens if someone knocks on or frees from their own half 5. Rugby starts off with an opening ceremony

What are the basics of rugby?

A: Rugby is a very old sport that has evolved into many different versions over time. There are 5 players on each side and they have to pass the ball down the field while running with it, trying not to get tackled.
The game can last around 2 hours if played by both teams equally well. The team scoring more tries wins

What is the most important rule in rugby?

A: The most important rule in rugby is that the game should not be stopped for any reason.

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