A beginner’s guide to rugby rules

Rugby, whether Union or League, is inherently complicated when compared to other team sports such as hockey or netball. If you’re new to the world of rugby and want a quick go-through of the basic rules, here’s everything you need to know to get started.

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The basics of the game

The aim is to score points by scoring goals or tries in the opponents goal area. Each team has 15 players (13 in Rugby League) and play takes place over two halves of 40 minutes. Unlike football, the ball can be held and passed as well as kicked but whilst it can be kicked in any direction, it can only be thrown sideways or backwards, never forwards. A forwards pass will result in a scrum for the other team. Staying onside is arguably more of a point in rugby than it is in football.

How to score

Unlike most team sports, there is more than one way to score points in rugby. The one you want really is a try. This is worth five points and involves you placing the ball on the ground past the try line but before the dead ball line. After any try players have the opportunity to convert the try for two extra points. The team can take a goal kick from anywhere in line with the try. Another way to score is with a drop goal, worth three points. This involves kicking the ball over the goal bar, but it must be dropped and hit the ground before being kicked to count. A penalty kick is another way to gain points, three points if successfully kicked over the crossbar.

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Getting into rugby

If you want to get into rugby you’ll need to find a local amateur team or club to train with. The Rugby England website can help you with information on getting into the sport. If you’re just starting out, you’ll need to get those passing and kicking skills up to scratch, so use a rugby drill video to help you up your game. Online rugby drill video options are a cheap and easy way to improve your rugby skills.

Once you have the hang of rugby it’s a great game, both for a sense of team spirit and for your general fitness.