Regulations and Terms

Rugby is a fun, fast-paced game that anyone can enjoy. Below is an overview, as well as some helpful guides and resources that will help you learn all about this global game.

Origin of rugby: William Webb Ellis was a student at the Rugby School in Rugby, England. During a particularly hard fought football (soccer) match in 1823, “William Webb Ellis, who with a fine desregard for the rules of football as played in his time, first took the ball in his arms, and ran with it,” thus originating the distinctive feature of the rugby game.

From this point on, the game of rugby was formed. Today rugby is played in over 100 countries all because Mr. Ellis picked up the ball, and ran with it.

Object: The object of the game is to carry the ball over the opponents’ try line and touch the ball down to the ground to score a try.

Scoring: 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 through the posts of the rugby 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 play, a team may drop the ball on the ground and kick it over the goal, this is called a drop goal. This is worth 3 points.

Number of Players: Traditional rugby consists of 15 players on each side. Other versions of the game include ten players or seven players on each side.

Duration: Traditional rugby with 15 players on each side consists of 40 minute halves and a 10 minute half time. High School Rugby plays 30 minutes halves.

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

Equipment: To play rugby, all you need is a rugby ball! Most players also wear a pair of boots (cleats) and a mouth guard.

Running: In order to move the ball forward in rugby, players must run with the ball.

Passing: The rugby ball can only be passed laterally or backwards. There are no forward passes in rugby. If a forward pass is made it is an infringement of the rules and results in a scrum awarded to the other team.

Kicking: The rugby ball can be kicked at any time during a game.

Tackling: 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.

Ruck: Once a player is tackled to the ground, a ruck is formed when one or more players from each team close around the ball. The ball then emerges and play continues.

Maul: When the ball carrier is 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.

Scrum: 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 come head to head with the eight players of the opposition. The ball is thrown 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.

Lineout: When the ball goes out of bounds, play is restarted with a lineout. Two lines are formed with opposing teams. The ball is thrown the air in the tunnel  between the lines. Teams will lift players to contest for the ball.