Ever find yourself slipping out of a conversation at the mention of rugby. Don’t know your tries from your rucks? Our country is about to be taken over by World Cup fever so before you get caught making excuses to get out of yet another rugby conversation – take a read of our guide and brush up on your knowledge.

Basic Rules

A rugby match lasts for 80 minutes – separated into two 40 minute halves with a ten minute break at half-time. The game is contested by two teams consisting of 15 players each. These 15 players assume different positions on the pitch with 8 making up the forwards, also called the pack, and 7 making up the backs.

The ball can be moved either by carrying it, kicking it or passing it. However, at no point can the ball be passed forward by hand, if a player wants to move the ball forward he must carry or kick it. If the ball is passed forward, it is called a knock on which results in a scrum to the other team. A scrum is used many times during a rugby game and is usually the normal restart for a number of situations.

If a team are awarded a penalty, they have three options on how they want to play it. They can kick the ball out of bounds and receive a lineout, take a free kick or take a penalty kick at goal. Whatever the team decides to do, the team that committed the offence have to retreat 10 metres from the site of the foul.

As you might have guessed, the aim of the game is to score as many points as possible – whether by try, conversion, drop goal or penalty – and ultimately, finish with a higher score than the opposing team.

Rugby Terms Explained

Try – This is when a team grounds the ball over the goal line (the try zone). It is the rugby equivalent of a touchdown in American Football, however instead of scoring 6 points as they do in American Football, the team scores 5 points for a try.

Conversion – If the team scores a try they then get the chance to convert it by kicking the ball between the goalposts. The conversion kick must be taken in line with where the try went down. A further 2 points are awarded for this if they score.

Drop Goal – This is when a player drop kicks the ball between the goalposts during the run of play. 3 points are awarded for this

Penalty – If there is a violation, or foul, by the opposing team, a penalty will be awarded. As mentioned above, the team have three options on how they want to play the penalty.

Scrum – This is a type of play where the two sets of forwards from opposing teams mass together by binding their shoulders. They then try to hook the ball back to their team’s side once it has been placed in the scrum.

Ruck – This is where one or more of the players from each team, who are on their feet, try to maintain or gain possession by closing in around the ball and driving their opponent away from it.

Lineout – This is the way the ball is restarted after it has been played out of bounds. The lineout is awarded to the team who didn’t put the ball out of bounds. The teams form two lines of players and the ball is thrown down the middle. Players then jump up or are lifted up by their teammates to try and gain possession of the ball.

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