How to play rugby?

HotbotBy HotBotUpdated: July 3, 2024

Introduction to Rugby

Rugby is a dynamic, physically demanding sport that originated in England in the early 19th century. The game is played between two teams of 15 players each (in Rugby Union) or 13 players each (in Rugby League) on a rectangular field. The objective is to score more points than the opposing team by carrying, passing, kicking, and grounding the ball in the opponent’s in-goal area.

The Basics of Rugby

The Playing Field

The rugby field, or pitch, is typically 100 meters long and 70 meters wide, with goalposts at each end. The field is divided into two halves by a halfway line, and additional lines mark the 22-meter lines, the 10-meter lines, and the try lines.

The Rugby Ball

The rugby ball is oval-shaped and made of leather or synthetic material. It measures approximately 28-30 cm in length and weighs around 410-460 grams. This unique shape allows for a variety of handling and kicking techniques.

Rugby Positions


Forwards are typically larger and stronger players whose primary responsibilities include winning possession of the ball and providing support in rucks and mauls. The forwards are divided into:

  • Props: Wear numbers 1 and 3, providing stability in the scrum.
  • Hooker: Wears number 2, responsible for winning the ball in scrums and throw-ins during lineouts.
  • Locks: Wear numbers 4 and 5, key players in lineouts and provide power in scrums.
  • Flankers: Wear numbers 6 and 7, versatile players involved in both defense and attack.
  • Number 8: Wears number 8, controls the ball at the base of the scrum and links forwards and backs during play.


Backs are generally faster and more agile players tasked with creating and finishing scoring opportunities. The backs are divided into:

  • Scrum-Half: Wears number 9, linking forwards and backs, initiates play from scrums and rucks.
  • Fly-Half: Wears number 10, key playmaker, directs the team's attacking strategy.
  • Centers: Wear numbers 12 and 13, responsible for breaking the defensive line and creating space for wingers.
  • Wingers: Wear numbers 11 and 14, fastest players, tasked with finishing scoring opportunities.
  • Fullback: Wears number 15, last line of defense, counter-attacks from deep.

Basic Rules of Rugby


Points can be scored in several ways:

  • Try: Worth 5 points, scored by grounding the ball in the opponent’s in-goal area.
  • Conversion: Worth 2 points, kicked after a try, aiming to send the ball through the opponent's goalposts.
  • Penalty Kick: Worth 3 points, awarded for specific fouls, kicked towards the goalposts.
  • Drop Goal: Worth 3 points, scored by drop-kicking the ball through the goalposts during open play.


The ball can only be passed laterally or backward; forward passes are not allowed. Players use a variety of passing techniques to maintain possession and advance the ball.


Kicking is a crucial aspect of rugby, used for tactical advantage, scoring, and restarting play. Types of kicks include:

  • Punt: Kicked from the hands, used to gain territory.
  • Drop Kick: The ball is dropped and kicked as it bounces, used for restarts and drop goals.
  • Grubber Kick: A low, bouncing kick intended to be difficult for opponents to field.
  • Up-and-Under: A high, hanging kick aimed at regaining possession.

Set Pieces


A scrum is a method of restarting play involving eight forwards from each team binding together and pushing against each other to win possession of the ball, which is fed into the middle by the scrum-half.


A lineout is another method of restarting play when the ball has gone out of bounds. The forwards form two lines, and the hooker throws the ball down the middle, allowing players to jump and compete for possession.

Phases of Play


A ruck forms when players from both teams converge over the ball on the ground. Players use their feet to move the ball backward to their side while staying on their feet.


A maul occurs when the ball carrier is held by one or more opponents, but other players from both teams bind onto the ball carrier. The objective is to move the ball forward while keeping it off the ground.


The breakdown is the term used for the play that occurs immediately after a tackle. Players must quickly secure possession by forming either a ruck or maul.

Defensive Strategies


Tackling is a fundamental defensive skill used to stop the ball carrier's progress. Tacklers must use proper technique, wrapping their arms around the ball carrier and driving them to the ground.

Defensive Line

Maintaining a strong, organized defensive line is crucial. Players must communicate effectively, cover gaps, and move up quickly to pressure the opposition.

Advanced Tactics and Strategies

Offensive Plays

Teams use set plays and structured attacks to break down defenses. Common tactics include:

  • Switch Pass: A sudden change in direction to confuse defenders.
  • Loop Pass: The passer runs around the receiver to create an overlap.
  • Dummy Pass: A fake pass to deceive the defense.

Kicking for Territory

Strategic kicking can gain valuable ground and relieve defensive pressure. Teams often kick for touch, aiming to win the subsequent lineout.

Training and Fitness

Physical Conditioning

Rugby requires a combination of strength, speed, endurance, and agility. Players should engage in a balanced training regimen that includes weightlifting, sprinting, and cardiovascular exercises.

Skill Development

Practicing core skills such as passing, kicking, tackling, and decision-making is essential. Drills and game simulations help players develop their abilities and understanding of the game.

Understanding the Culture of Rugby

Rugby is more than just a sport; it embodies values such as teamwork, respect, and camaraderie. The traditions and ethos of rugby contribute to its unique culture, fostering a sense of community among players and fans alike.

And so, the intricate dance of rugby unfolds on fields worldwide, each match a testament to strategy, skill, and sheer willpower. As players navigate the complexities of set pieces, defensive stands, and exhilarating tries, the beauty of rugby lies not just in its rules, but in the passion and spirit that drive each player forward.

Related Questions

Who invented rugby?

The origins of rugby trace back to the early 19th century in England. While the game as we know it today evolved over several decades, pinpointing the exact inventor is tricky. However, the story most commonly associated with the invention of rugby involves a young student named William Webb Ellis.

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How long is a rugby match?

Rugby, known for its intensity and strategic gameplay, is a sport that captivates millions worldwide. One of the most common queries from new enthusiasts is regarding the duration of a rugby match. Understanding the time structure is essential for both players and spectators to fully appreciate the dynamics of the game.

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How long is a rugby game?

Rugby is a sport that fascinates millions of fans around the world with its unique blend of physicality, strategy, and skill. A common question among newcomers and even some seasoned followers is, "How long is a rugby game?" Understanding the duration of a rugby match involves delving into various factors such as the type of rugby being played, stoppage time, and additional breaks. This comprehensive guide will explore the intricacies of rugby game durations, from standard regulations to the minute details that can affect the length of a match.

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When was rugby invented?

Rugby, as we know it today, has roots that can be traced back to various forms of medieval folk football. These early games, played in villages and towns across Europe, often involved large numbers of participants and very few rules. They were chaotic, often violent affairs, with objectives varying from one locality to another. The essence of these games, however, lay in advancing a ball towards a goal using any means necessary, including carrying it, a feature that would become central to rugby.

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