A beginner’s guide to the rules of Rugby.

Rugby is an exhilarating sport played with two teams of 15 players on a rectangular field. From the moment the whistle blows, the objective is clear: outscore the opposing team by employing a range of techniques including carrying, passing, kicking, and grounding the ball in the opponent's goal area, known as the "in-goal" area.


To kick off the game, one team passes the ball from the centre of the field to a teammate. From there, the teams strategically manoeuvre the ball up the field through a combination of running, passing, and kicking. Lateral or backward passes keep the ball moving among teammates, while kicks can be utilised to gain ground or create scoring opportunities.

When a player is tackled and brought to the ground, they must release the ball, leading to an intense battle for possession known as a "ruck" or "scrum." Both teams lock together, aiming to secure the ball and gain control.

Defensive efforts are equally crucial. The team without possession strives to stop their opponents' progress by tackling the ball carrier. A successful tackle results in an opportunity to regain possession and turn the tide in their favour.

The game consists of two 40-minute halves, with a halftime break. In the event of a tie, extra time may be played to determine a winner. Penalties and free kicks are awarded for various infractions, such as offside, dangerous tackles, and failure to release the ball after a tackle. These penalties can grant the opposing team possession or the chance to kick for points.

Kicks in rugby come in various forms, including drop kicks, penalty kicks, and conversion kicks. These kicks serve both as scoring opportunities and strategic manoeuvres to gain territorial advantage.


The scoring system

The scoring system in rugby is designed to reward teams for different types of actions on the field. There are several ways to score points in rugby, including:

  1. Try: The most valuable way to score points in rugby is by scoring a "try," which is when a player touches the ball down in the opponent's in-goal area. A try is worth five points.

  2. Conversion: After a try is scored, the scoring team has the opportunity to kick the ball over the crossbar and between the posts for an additional two points. This is called a "conversion."

  3. Penalty Kick: If a team commits a penalty, the opposing team has the option to kick the ball over the crossbar and between the posts for three points. This is called a "penalty kick."

  4. Drop Goal: A drop goal is scored when a player drops the ball onto the ground and then kicks it over the crossbar and between the posts. It is worth three points.

  5. Field Goal: A field goal is scored when a player drop-kicks the ball over the crossbar and between the posts, while the game is in play. It is worth 3 points.

It's worth noting that, in case of a draw, the game can go into extra-time, where two additional periods of 10 minutes are played. If the game is still tied, the winner is determined by a process of kicking for a goal, where each team takes turns kicking penalties, until one team scores and the other misses.

Offside in rugby

In rugby, offside refers to a situation when a player is not in the correct position on the field, in relation to the ball and the players on their own team. The offside rule is designed to ensure that the game is played fairly and that players do not have an unfair advantage when the ball is in play.

When the ball is in play, all players who are not involved in the current phase of play must be behind the ball, and they must not interfere with play. If a player is in front of the ball, they are considered to be offside, and they are not allowed to participate in the current phase of play until they have retreated behind the ball.

There are two types of offside in rugby:

  1. Offside at the breakdown: At the breakdown, when a tackle is made, the ball carrier and tackler are on their feet and the ball is available, the players from the opposing team must retreat behind the hindmost feet of the players involved in the breakdown.

  2. Offside at the scrum, ruck and maul: At the scrum, ruck and maul, the players not involved in these set pieces must stay behind the hindmost foot of the players involved in the set piece.

If a player is offside, the opposing team can be awarded a free-kick or a penalty kick, which can give them an advantage in field position or an opportunity to score points. Players can also be shown a yellow card (warning) or red card (disqualification) depending on the severity of the infraction.


For further insights into the history of rugby and tips on playing safely, be sure to explore more here.