Be sure to read the Basic Guide from World Rugby!


During the course of an 80-minute match, two sides of 15 players and six substitutes, officiated by a referee and two touch judges (they watch the touchline, A.K.A. sideline), try to outscore each other. The game lasts for two 40-minute halves.

While playing, the ball may be carried or kicked forward, but must be passed backwards or laterally to teammates.



For the first time rugby player or viewer, the sport can appear to be a chaotic collection of indecipherable movements and haphazard collisions. In reality, rugby is highly technical and organized with specific laws governing all aspects of play. To get you on the right track early, here are the four most important parts of rugby to familiarize yourself with before watching a match.

Scrum: A contest for the ball involving eight players who bind together and push against the other team’s assembled eight for possession of the ball. Scrums restart play after certain minor infractions.

Lineout: Looks somewhat like a jump-ball in basketball, with both teams lining up opposite each other, but one team then throws the ball down the middle of the tunnel. Line-outs restart play after the ball, or a player carrying it, has gone out of bounds.

Ruck: One or more players from each team, who are on their feet and in contact, close around the ball on the ground. Once a ruck has been formed, players can’t use their hands to get the ball, only their feet.

Maul: Occurs when a player carrying the ball is held by one or more opponents, and one or more of the ball-carrier’s teammates bind on the ball-carrier. All the players involved are on their feet and moving toward a goal line. Open play has ended.



The aim of rugby is to score more points than the opposition. This is done in four different ways:

Try: The most valuable play is to score a try, which means touching the ball down in the opponent’s in-goal area or on their goal line. Doing so is worth five points and earns that team the right to attempt a conversion kick.

Conversion kick: This kick is worth an additional two points. The conversion kick is taken from a spot in line with where the ball was originally grounded, so scoring as close to the posts as possible is best.

Penalty kick: Penalties for various infractions can be used to take a kick at goal, which is worth three points.

Dropped goal: A dropped goal, which occurs when the player drops the ball on the ground and then kicks it just as it bounces, is worth three points if it goes through the uprights.


Key Skills

Passing: Being able to handle a rugby ball confidently is an important part of the game. Most skills involve holding the ball, such as running with the ball, passing, catching and even before kicking, the ball must be held. The ball should be held in both hands whenever possible. This makes it easier to protect the ball from a tackler, or pass the ball to a teammate.

Tackling: The tackler must keep their eye on the ball carrier. As the ball carrier reaches the tackler, the tackler should move their head to one side of their body. They should end up in the cheek to bum cheek position. As contact is made the tackler shrugs their shoulders, and then lifts the shoulder into the ball carriers ribs. The tackler wants to use the ball carrier’s momentum to sit them down, with their arms wrapped around their thighs. As the tackler sits down, they should turn to send the ball carrier over their shoulder, and land on top of them.