What are the rules of rugby football? Beginners can find simplified explanations extracted from the official RFU laws of rugby union.
RUGBY UNION RULES 2019: 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 Guinness sponsored Six Nations Championship.
Rules for Rugby Union
Follow UK Rules for 2019 Updates!
Rugby Union Aim of the Game
The 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.
Both teams play within the RFU rules and rugby regulations. Thus, the opposing team will try to stop the attacking team scoring points.
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.
Rugby union pitch markings divide the ground into three sections:
One main playing area not exceeding 100 meters long by 70 meters wide.
Two individual dead ball areas (one at each end) ranging from at least 10 meters up to 20 meters.
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
Half Way Line
5 Meter Line
22 Meter Line
10 Meter Line
Dead Ball Line
Center Spot (used for restarting the game after a try, penalty or drop goal gets scored)
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
After the referee's whistle, rugby regulation games get broken down into two 40 minute halves. There is a 10 minute rest period between each half.
According to rugby rules and regulations the matches do not carry stoppage time. Generally the game ends after 80 minutes of play.
Teams change ends and play from the opposite direction after the break period.
A match gets drawn if both teams fail to score or score the same number of points in rugby union. In this case the game sometimes results in extra playing time.
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
Players can carry the oval-shaped ball, pass it to each other, or kick it, in general play.
You can run holding the ball but you cannot make a forward-pass (playing the ball forwards).
Rugby regulations allow tackling, pushing, grabbing, or holding. Players use these techniques on the opposing ball carrier to try and take possession of the ball.
Tackling or obstructing any other player (other than the player with the ball) is against the rules and regulations in rugby UK.
Players may carry or kick the ball tactically an unlimited distance and in any direction. Despite giving away possession, kicking the ball forward often gains ground or avoids a tackle.
Carrying the ball in either or both hands is within the rules in rugby union. But, unlike Aussie Rules Football, it should not get bounced in normal play.
Players usually head for the opposition's goal-line area to attempt a point scoring opportunity. They do this using rugby regulation dummies, swerves, and legal moves of deception.
On-side and Off-side Rules
Team players should stay 'on-side' behind the ball runner during open play.
A penalty gets given for players in an 'off-side' position.
Any player on-side may take possession of the ball anywhere within the playing area.
The game is continuous unless a player breaks the rules or the ball goes outside the playing field.
Play restarts with a line-out if the ball goes outside the perimeter field markers. These markings are often called the touchlines.
All attack players must remain behind the ball while it is active or run the risk of being in an offside call. Players who are not interfering with play can be in front of ball. But they must get back behind the ball before they begin interfering with play.
Rugby Kicking Rules
Drop Goal: It is an infrequent method to score a goal in rugby union. But, kicking the ball half-volley between the goal posts and above the crossbar is a drop goal and scores three points.
Rugby Conversion Rules: A conversion follows a successful try. Your team gets two points for a successful kick through your opponent's goalposts, above the cross bar. A successful conversion, penalty or kick at goal only, occurs when the player manages to kick the ball through the top section of the goal. If a player is unsuccessful the ball is still in play until it crosses one of the playing fields boundaries.
Goal Kick: A penalty kick or drop goal through the goal posts receives three points. Any player may try a drop-goal kick during open play.
Line Out Rules
A line out gets called when the ball goes into touch. Up to 7 players from each team may enter a line out.
A team player throws the ball back into play from the area where the ball crossed the touchline.
Two perpendicular lines of opposing players leap from the ground to catch the ball in the air as it gets thrown in from the line.
As the line out players compete for the ball, players can get lifted off the ground to catch it after it has been thrown in.
Rucks and Mauls
Rugby union rules and regulations for rucking and mauling are sometimes confusing. They may appear as moments of disorganized chaos to beginners and the uninitiated.
A spontaneous knot of entangled players grapple each other for the ball in a furious attempt to win possession.
During this contest, a ruck ensues when the ball is in contact with the ground.
Players try to win the advantage by uniting together and pushing back the opposing 'ruckers'.
The main difference between rucking and mauling is the ball handing. The ball is off the ground during the mauls. It looks similar to a ruck as a group of players bound together charge forward grappling for the ball.
Even so, a maul should be a continuous movement and play gets stopped if the maul breaks down.
Rugby union regulations and rulings allow play advantages for the attacking team. It may occur when the conceding team gets penalized for rule breaking.
The referee decides whether the advantage benefits the opposing team or not. He may award a scrum for a minor offence. But he will give a penalty kick for a serious offence if no advantage is gained from allowing play to continue.
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:
Rugby Union Try Points 5: Players grounding the ball in the opponent's dead ball area behind the goal posts score a 'try'.
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.
Penalty Kick Points 3: Penalty kicks get awarded to a team if the opposing team causes a rules infringement.
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.