/most frequently asked questions

Everything you need to know about Rugby

New to rugby? No worries. Rugby 101 will get you up to speed.

What is rugby?

Rugby is the greatest sport on earth. This is the only correct answer.

How are the teams set up?

Teams consist of 15 players on the field during play, with 8 players as reserves on the bench, for a total of 23 players per team.

Players are divided into 2 groups, Forwards & Backs:

Forwards - Forwards are numbers 1-8 on the pitch.

This group consists of 5 different positions who are generally the strength and size of the team. Forwards focus on getting forward movement, maintaining possession, and creating space for the backs to get creative.

1. Loosehead Prop
2. Hooker
3. Tighthead Prop
4. Lock/Second Row
5. Lock/Second Row
6. Blindside Flanker
7. Openside Flanker
8. Number 8/8 Man

Backs - Backs are numbers 9-15 on the pitch.

This group consists of 6 different positions who are generally the speed and agility of the team. Backs focus on reading the defensive picture, being patient to let the forwards create space for them, then attacking the defense with creative running lines and plays.     

9. Scrum-half
10. Fly-Half
11. Left Wing
12. Inside Centre
13. Outside Centre
14. Right Wing
15. Fullback

What is a "knock on" or forward pass?

Forward Pass - In rugby, the ball can only be passed backwards or laterally. A forward pass is exactly what it sounds like, a pass that goes forward instead of backwards or laterally.

Knock-On - A knock-on happens when a player drops or knocks the ball forward when attempting to handle the ball. A knock-on is a penalty resulting in a scrum to the opposing team.

How do you score points?

Try (5 points) -  A try is the ultimate objective in rugby. A try occurs when an attacking player crosses the goal line (often called the try line) with the ball in hand and touches it down under control into the in-goal area (usually called the try zone). A try is worth 5 points. You will often see players try to score a try in the center of the field to set up an easier conversion for their team's kicker. 

Conversion (2 points) - A conversion happens after a try is scored. The conversion can be kicked by any chosen player on the attacking team, they have 90 seconds to complete this kick. This player must kick the ball on a vertical line from where the try was dotted down. The depth of the kick is determined by the kicker. A conversion is worth 2 points.

Drop Goal (3 points) - A drop goal can be taken at anytime in the game. A player will drop the ball on the ground and kick it as it bounces up from the drop, aiming to put the ball through the uprights. A drop goal is worth 3 points.

How is the game set up? (Field, ball, time)

The Field:

The Ball:

A ball is 280-300mm with a circumference of 580-620mm.

How does time work in rugby?

Rugby matches run for 80 minutes, divided into two 40 minute halves.

The clock counts up starting from 0 at kickoff, and a half ends when the ball becomes dead after time has expired unless: A scrum, lineout or restart kick following a try, awarded before time expired, has not been completed and the ball has not returned to open play. This includes when the scrum, lineout or restart kick is taken incorrectly.

The referee awards a free-kick or penalty.A penalty is kicked into touch without the ball first being tapped and without the ball touching another player. A try has been scored, in which case the referee allows time for the conversion to be taken.

What is a scrum?

A scrum happens to restart play after a penalty.

Each team’s 8 forwards bind their bodies together to connect and battle against the opposing forwards. The ball is rolled by the Scrum-Half, down the center of the two teams.(This is called the tunnel)

Both teams' Hookers use their feet to try to pull the ball to their teams side while the other 7 forwards use strength and momentum to push themselves forward over the ball to claim possession.

What is a maul?

A maul can form in any moment of a game, but will typically be planned and run off of an attacking line out.

A maul occurs when the ball carrier is held by one or more attacking players who bind against one or more opposing players. The ball must stay off the ground and be in motion.

When momentum stops, the ref will tell the scrum half to play the ball.

How does Tackling work?

A tackle happens when an attacking ball carrier is brought to the ground by one or more defending opponents.

When a tackle is made, the ball carrier must place and release the ball towards their team immediately following the tackle.

Unlike American football, play does not stop after a tackle is made. This is a live ball for either team to compete for.

What is a ruck?

A ruck happens after a tackle is made.

The ball is placed on the ground by the tackled attacking player towards their team. The attacking team must try to defend the ball to maintain possession.

The defending team can commit players to this ruck to battle the attacking team for the ball, this is sometimes called contesting, poaching or jackaling, depending on the situation.

The players MUST enter the ruck through “the gate”, which means directly from the front or back of the ruck, they may not enter from the side.

What are the penalties in rugby?

When a penalty is committed, depending on the severity, the team being awarded the penalty has multiple options. They can tap the ball on their foot and continue play, kick the ball out of bounds for a line out, take a scrum at the place of the penalty, or take a penalty kick that is worth 3 points. 

High Tackle - A high tackle is an illegal tackle. A high tackle occurs when a defending player makes contact with an attacking player's head or neck area. This can be a minor or major infringement depending on the severity. A high tackle will result in a penalty and can lead to being sent to the sin bin. 

Sin Bin - When a player commits a penalty of enough severity, they can be given a yellow card and sent to the sin bin. The sin bin is a chair on the sideline where the player must sit out for 10 minutes. This player can not be replaced and their team will play with one less player on the field for those 10 minutes. 

Yellow Card - A yellow card is shown for penalties that are severe enough to require the player that committed the infringement is sent off the pitch to sit in the sin bin for 10 minutes.

Red Card - A red card is shown for penalties that are severe enough to require that the player take no further part in the match. A player sent off may not be replaced. In the MLR a player that receives a red card can have their position replaced with a different player after 20 minutes.

What does Advantage mean?

When the referee shouts advantage, this means that one team has committed a penalty, but instead of stopping play they allow the game to continue as the other team is benefiting from the results of the penalty.

If the progress stops immediately, the referee can bring the play back to the spot of the foul.

What is a lineout?

A lineout occurs to restart play after the ball crosses the touchline, leaving the field of play.

The attacking team gets to choose how many of their forwards they want to enter the line out, the defensive team must match numbers.

The attacking team's hooker must throw the ball straight down the tunnel between the two teams while the attack uses pre-planned formations to trick the defense, and lift players in the air to claim possession.

The defense can try to compete for the ball. Players may not be grabbed or “played” in the air. 

What is a mark?

If a player catches a kick within their own 22, they can call "mark," and play stops temporarily.

The player is then given the option to kick the ball to touch for a lineout or to resume play.

What is a 50/22?

A 50/22 is when a player makes a kick from behind the halfway line, it doesn’t touch the ground until it is past the 22 metre line and then goes into touch.

The team that kicked the ball is then awarded a line-out where the ball went into touch.

What do the official's hand signals mean?

Loads of hand waving. Here's a reference guide.


Free Kick



Try and Penalty Try

No Try

22 drop-out