Wayne State College

What is Rugby?

How to Play Rugby

Rugby in simple terms is about 90% football and 10% soccer. The game was actually changed in the United States in the early 1900's, when some rule changes were added to the English version of rugby by adding on padding, helmets, blocking, time-outs, forward passing, and play-making huddles, slowly turning rugby into American gridiron football.

If you know a lot about football, rugby will be easy for you.

Rugby Scoring

  • 5 points are scored when you score a touchdown, called a try. This is when you run into the end zone with the ball in your hands and "touch the ball down" for the 5 points. This is how "spiking the football" developed in American gridiron.
  • 2 points are scored when kicking the points after the touchdown. Like American gridiron, the ball is on a kicking tee, and put through the goal posts for 2 extra points. So a try and conversion kick is worth a total of 7 points, just like football.
  • 3 points are scored by kicking a field goal. You will see more field goals in rugby then in American Gridiron for one main reason. When there is a major penalty in rugby, the defense must back up 10 yards and the offensive team does not move up. This is a dead ball time, and play resumes after the ball is put back into play. However, when a team is within 45 yards of the goal posts, a team with a strong kicker will attempt to kick a penalty kick for 3 points. The defending team who committed the penalty cannot rush the kicker or block the kicking attempt. If the attempt at the 3 points is missed, then the ball rolling on the ground is a live ball, and play will resume when either team scrambles to pick up the loose ball.

Once in a while you will see a team kick a drop goal, also worth 3 points. When play is live, an offensive player within his kicking distance drops the ball on the ground, and kicks it just as it hits the grass, this is a drop goal. The defensive team can block this kick, and if the ball travels the kicking distance and goes through the uprights of the goalposts, 3 points are given to the offensive team for the drop goal. If it is missed, the ball is live, and either team can run for the ball.

Rugby Game Basics

  • 15 players per team
  • No blocking
  • The ball can only be passed backward
  • Can only tackle the player running with the ball
  • When you are tackled you must intentionally fumble the ball and release it gently on the ground. The ball carrier, now on the ground, and the defensive tackler must not touch the ball! They must make and attempt to roll away from the tackle pile or at least lay motionless and not slow the play about to develop.
  • When the ball is released from the tackle, either team may pick up the loose ball.
  • If a player outruns all others, they simply pick up the ball and start running with it.
  • Normally, two or three members from each team will get to the breakdown (loose ball area) at the same time and will form a ruck by staying on their feet, grabbing each other and pushing as hard as they can, and hopefully will push back the opposition.
  • Now a small 3-on-3 pushing match will develop, and a brand-new scrimmage line is now formed, called a scrumage line. This is when the entire defense must run back to their own side of the new line. With this small 3-on-3 push of war going on in the ruck, the ball cannot be touched by any player's hands until the ball is won.
  • Winning the ball is simply pushing your opponents back just one or two steps off of the ruck and having the ball behind the offensive feet of those at the ruck, or if the pile is a stalemate and can't be pushed over to win the ball, either team may put their feet on the ball, and gently roll the ball backwards so they win the ball by using their feet instead of pushing their opponents off of the ball.
  • Once the ball is behind the feet of those involved in the ruck, and the rugby quarterback, called the scrumhalf, will pick up the ball.
  • The scrumhalf will now pass the ball backwards to several players that are standing behind him, and this will go on for 80 minutes non-stop. 
  • After the first tackle in this fasted paced game, everyone no matter your size or speed is involve is all phases of the game. Everyone runs with the ball; everyone tackles; everyone plays offense and defense with no substitutions.
  • On dead ball situations on minor penalties, a scrum is formed. This is rugby's signature picture when eight members from each team form an eight-man pack, extremely packed together, and will form a very evenly set and organized eight-man scrum. This is similar to a ruck; however, it is on a dead ball penalty, and both teams will collide 1 yard apart at the verbal instruction of the referee, similar to the true snap of the beginning of a football play. When both scrums collide at the call, they will try to win the ball placed in the middle of the scrum from the minor penalty that just occurred. Whoever wins the set scrum down will take ball and fire a hard pass to the 7-backs that are positioned behind the scrum, and the race is on again to see who can get to the tackled area first.

VIDEO: Best World Cup Scores (Men)

VIDEO: Best World Cup Scores (Women)