The UK Rules
'Follow the Regulations'
Rugby Union

Rules of Rugby 2017

What are the rules of rugby? Beginners can find simplified explanations extracted from the official RFU laws of the game.

RUGBY UNION RULES 2017: A concise and informative list of the rules and regulations of rugby union.

Learning the basic rules of rugby union makes the game easier to follow for beginners. It also makes it more enjoyable to watch for all rugby fans and spectators.

Rugby Football Union is a physical contact sport. The lively ball game is usually played outdoors on a grass pitch.

As a rule, two opposing squads may have up to fifteen outfield players in each team. They get assigned individual playing positions and different roles on the field.

The international pinnacle of the sport for most followers is the Rugby World Cup. It is a global knockout rugby union tournament held every four years. The Web Ellis Cup, or trophy, gets awarded to the winner of the RWC competition.

Other popular rugby union tournaments include the southern hemisphere battle of the Tri Nations. It is a world famous rugby competition involving South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia.

The European Rugby Champions Cup is another highlight in the game. But, the most recognized of all annual rugby competitions has to be the RBS sponsored Six Nations Championship.

Basic Rules and Regulations of Playing Rugby Union GuideRules for Rugby Union

Rugby Union Aim of the Game

Diagram Naming Rugby Union Equipment ListThe aim in rugby union rules games is to score more points than your opponents. You must achieve this in the allotted 80 minute time frame.

Team players run with the oval shaped ball - or kick it - up the field. They do so in 'phases of play' but the ball must not get passed forwards.

Playing within RFU rules and rugby regulations the opposing team try to stop the attacking team from scoring.

All rugby players use interception tactics and physical tackles to regain possession of the ball.

Starting a Rugby Union Match (kick-off)

The match referee tosses a coin to decide which team starts the game. Winning the toss allows the captain a choice of either starting the game or selecting the direction of play.

A place kick or drop kick bounced from the center of the halfway line commences play.

The kicker must kick the ball in play and at least 10 meters forward. Failing to do so means the opposition receive the advantage of a halfway line-out or scrum.

Rules for Rugby Union Players

Rugby union rules and regulations allow each team to have 15 outfield players. A total of 7 player substitutions can take place during the game.


Only players who have received treatment for an injury can return to the game once they have left the field.

A full squad comprises two groups of rugby playing positions and numbers. The team players will either be 'forwards or backs'.

Rugby Union: 8 Forward Player Positions

Rugby Union: 7 Backs Positions

The Rules of Rugby Union Equipment

Rugby union pitch markings divide the ground into three sections:

There must be an 'H' shaped goal post at each end of a rugby union pitch markings and the uprights should be 6 meters apart. There are no specific restrictions on the height of the goal posts.

Rugby Union Playing Field Markings

Each team player must wear the same coloured jerseys with matching shorts and socks. Player protective safety gear includes a list of items. Players should wear studded boots, head guards, gum shields, shoulder pads, and shin pads.

General RFU Regulations in Rugby Union

Duration of a Rugby Union Game

The game stops if a player gets fouled, if the ball goes out of play, or when a player scores a try or drop goal. Tackles and made by grabbing a hold and pulling the opponent to the ground. A tackle will incur a foul if it takes place above shoulder height.

Ball Possession and Movement

On-side and Off-side Rules

Rugby Kicking Rules

Line Out Rules

Rucks and Mauls

The Scrummage

A rugby union scrum is a tangled pack of 16 players head down trying to win the ball with their strength and power. Rugby rules do not allow handling of the ball in scrums.

The ball enters the center of the scrum as eight forwards from each team lock together attempting to win possession with their legs and feet.

Rugby Rules and Regulations for Scoring

Rugby scoring rules allow points for scoring by one of four different methods:

  1. Rugby Union Try Points 5: Players grounding the ball in the opponent's dead ball area behind the goal posts score a 'try'.
  2. Conversion (2 bonus points): Following a try, a conversion is a successful kick which passes between the upper posts and top cross bar on the goal.
  3. Penalty Kick Points 3: Penalty kicks get awarded to a team if the opposing team causes a rules infringement.
  4. Drop Goal Points 3: Drop goals may get kicked out of the hand as long as the ball bounces first.

Rugby Union Referees and Officials

Competitive rules and regulations of rugby union say the game must have one referee and two touch judges. There will be one touch judge positioned on each side of the field.

The role of the referee is to keep time, make regulatory decisions throughout the game, and control order on the field.

Two touch judges assist the referee with infringement decisions. They may notify the referee when players get called for being out of playing boundaries.

How to Win a Game of Rugby

The team with the greater number of points at full time gets announced as the winner. It is possible for some games to end as a draw unless they are knockout competitions.

Advanced Rugby Rules and Regulations

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Rules and Regulations of Rugby Union; UK Rules Updated 2017

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