The Rules of Rugby Union

Think you know the intricacies of Rugby? Read our guide.


Rugby union can be quite a complicated game, with various rules being applied based on the various phases of drama — which can often confuse even the greatest rugby players. Much is to the referee’s interpretation of drama — and with 30 players vying and longing for the ball, it’s easy to understand why the referee’s task is really hard in the sport of rugby.


The aim of the game

The aim in a game of rugby union is to score more points than the opposition by conducting, passing and kicking the oval-shaped ball over the designated tryline or by kicking it on the’H-shaped’ posts.


Scoring in union

In union is as follows, scoring:


Five points are given for a try when a participant has grounded the ball (i.e. touched down) over the tryline from the opposition’s goal area.

Two points are given for a conversion when a player has kicked the ball between the posts after a try has been scored.

Three points are awarded if a player successfully kicks the ball through the posts from a penalty kick or drop goal.

Rugby’s game

Matches are played between two teams of 15 players each. A group consists of eight’forward’, whose tops are numbered one to eight, and seven’backs’, whose tops are numbered nine to 15. Based on the contest, a team may bring up to seven substitute players.

A match lasts 80 minutes and includes two periods of 40 minutes each. In international matches there’s a maximum ten-minute period, and both teams change ends.

Referees can add time onto drama to take into consideration stoppages in play, and in knockout competitions extra time is played to pick a winner if the scores are tied.

The game is started by a place kick or a drop kick from the halfway point. If a penalty kick or drop goal is scored during the game, play will be resumed with a dropkick from the halfway line from the group that has only conceded the points.

Throughout the game, players should not throw the ball forwards — although they could kick it and instead must pass it in a sideways or backward direction. Alternately, a penalty is awarded to the opposing team if a knock-on is thought of as intentional.

As rugby union is a contact game, players can handle each other so as to have the ball provided that the contact is below shoulder height. On being tackled to the ground, the player who was holding the ball must launch it. This releasing of the ball is one of the principal attributes which sets rugby union besides rugby league, because from the league version that the players hold onto the ball when tackled.

There are quite a few different rules of the game concerning stages of play like the scrum, the maul, the ruck, as well as the line-out — all of which are too complicated to explain here in terrific detail.


Common Rugby terms

Scrum — Everyone who has watched rugby union will be knowledgeable about the sight of two packs of players straining Ufa every muscle and sinew for land during the scrum. The scrum is a way of restarting play after infringements, and is composed of eight players per side (the forward ), who ‘scrum down’ to form the scrum until the ball is set in. It’s the task of the’ hooker’ in the front to control the ball.

Ruck — A ruck is formed when a player is tackled, goes to earth and releases the ball. Both sides — with their players on their feet — will try to retrieve the ball although it’s free on the floor by driving over the ball to make it accessible for their team-mates, who must be following up behind. Players can try to free the ball by scratching in a movement called’ rucking’ in the ball with their feet.

Maul — A maul occurs when more or three players, including at least one player from both sides and the ball carrier, are in contact. Since the ball is in hand rather than on the ground A maul is different to a ruck. It’s up to the referee if the maul has dropped to the floor unintentionally, but it must be.

Lineout — The lineout is a way of restarting play after the ball has gone into touch. A line-out is composed of three to eight players from each side, and sees the ball thrown in a direct line by the side of the pitch between the two teams, with each attempting to out-jump another get their hands on it. Throughout lineouts, players will use codes so that they know who the ball will be aimed at through the line-out, known only for their team-mates.

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