HomeRules Sports › Rugby League
Rules of Rugby League for Beginners

The codified laws of rugby league rules can sometimes seem intimidating for beginners. Newcomers to the game will learn fast in this basic guide to the rules in rugby league.

RUGBY LEAGUE REGULATIONS: We kick off with the most important regulations and rulings of the game.

Rugby league rules have very different codes to those in rugby union rules and regulations.

The simple aim of league rugby – like most ball sports – is to score more points than your opponents do. Two teams of thirteen players battle out ‘drop goals and tries’ on a field.

Each team can use up to 4 additional reserves waiting on the interchange bench.

The substitutes can get substituted – interchanged – up to 12 times throughout the game. Rugby league rules and regulations matches get monitored by strict officials. They govern the game from positions on and off the pitch.

As a rule, the game gets played over two halves of forty minutes with a break at the half-time interval. Match timekeepers use a loud hooting siren for signalling full time.

There are three principle methods of scoring. When you ground the ball in their try-line you score four points.

Kicking at goal afterwards bumps up to six points if your player converts the kick. Penalty goals score an extra two points and your side gets one for a drop goal.

Rugby League Player Roles

Rugby league players all have a united role when they are defending. But, there are specific responsibilities for some of the team.

This is especially clear when they are attacking with the ball.

Forwards: Focus on carrying the ball and moving forward counter-attacking towards the opponent’s goal zone.

Backs: Adept at attacking on the flanks and fringes.

Hooker and Half-backs: Skilled at distributing the ball and connecting play.

Passing and Handovers

Rugby league regulations allow the players to pass the ball as often as they like. They can do so until they get tackled. But the ball must always get passed backwards.

The rules of rugby league regulate how many tackles get made before the carrier must release it to a receiver. Each team is only allowed six tackles (plays) before the release.

After the sixth tackle the ball must get played by the team in possession. It gets played along the ground and handed over to the opposition’s receiver. He will stand directly behind him.

Instead, teams often kick it forward before the sixth tackle. That avoids handing ball possession over to the opposition.

Rugby League Scrum


  • Scrums restart the game following a rule infringement such as a forward pass or a knock-on.
  • Six players from each team perform the push in a rugby league scrum.

Rugby League Offside Rule

Both major codes of rugby football – league and union – prohibit players from going ahead of the ball carrier to gain advantage. But, the rules in rugby league for offside differ noticeably.

A rugby league defender is offside if:


  • The player is less than ten meters from the ‘play-the-ball‘ as the ball gets played (or it is inside his 10 meter line).
  • He is closer to the opposition’s try-line than the rugby league ball during open play.
  • During a scrum he is less than 5 meters away from the base.

A rugby league attacker is offside if:

  • He is in front of the rugby league ball.
  • He is in front of a ball and it is then kicked.

Rugby League Rules for Kicking

The basic explanation of the 40-20 kick is when the ball gets kicked from behind your own forty meter line. It grounds inside the opposition’s twenty meter line and then bounces into touch.

When the 40-20 kick occurs, the kicking side gains the advantage. Their reward is putting the ball into the resulting scrum. If your team got forced to touch the ball down in your own in-goal area – or put the ball out of play in this area – the result is a goal line drop out taken from under your own posts.

Advanced Rules and Regulations of Rugby League


What is a Rugby League Pitch Size?
Rugby league pitch dimensions measure 112-122 meters by 68 meters (122.5-133.4 × 74.3 yards). The game uses the longer boundary lines (length) as touch lines. Whereas the shorter boundary lines (width) get termed dead ball lines. All the touch lines and dead ball lines are out of regular play during the match.

What are the Basic Rules of Rugby Union?
All our endearing ‘egg chaser‘ fans are sure to enjoy the rugby frequently asked questions page. You can also check out our five step basic rugby rules guide which helps get complete novices and newcomers off to a flying start.

All Sports Rules: A list of popular indoor and outdoor sport categories from A to Z.
Rugby Equipment List: A checklist of basic match kit needed for the game.
Rugby Union Rules: Find out how rugby laws govern the game of rugby union.
Rugby Sevens Rules: 7 regulations that make rugby 7s a fast-moving tournament game!
Rugby Terminology: A concise list of rugby terms and phrases from A-Z.
Six Nations Rugby Championship: An informative guide to the RBS 6 Nations Tournament.
New Zealand All Blacks Haka: The sport’s most feared and respected pre-match ritual.
IWRF Wheelchair Rugby Rules: A guide to playing rugby while seated in a quad chair.
Rugby League Official Rules Book [PDF Download Option].

Rugby League Rules and Regulations Played in the United Kingdom