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Rugby Union Rules for Beginners

'Kick Off: A Guide to Watching and Understanding Rugby Union'

This is only a simple snapshot of the basic fundamentals. But, it is an ideal place to start if you want to learn how to play rugby union in 5 to 10 minutes of reading.

BASIC RULES OF RUGBY UNION FOR DUMMIES: Dummy is not a word we use when we talk about our endearing ‘egg chaser’ fans.

But, this 5 step basic rugby guide is invaluable help for complete novices and all newcomers.

How to play rugby union for beginners? Understanding rugby union kicks off right. Check out these five simple steps of rugby for beginners.

This rugby rules for dummies guide is the ‘fool proof beginners edition‘. It will help you learn about the chief laws of the game.

Learning some simple regulations of rugby, and a few basic laws, increases your background knowledge. You will also watch or play rugby union with a better understanding of the game.

5 Basic Rugby Rules for Beginners

The codified laws of rugby, or a complicated book about the basic rules of rugby for dummies, could still hit the overload button.

So we developed this beginners guide to rugby union. Delivering it in a single cheat sheet page is certain to make the grade for all aspiring rugger players.

1. Rugby Union Offside Rule

The rugby offside law is the first of 5 basic rugby union rules for beginners. The offside rule is part of general play.

In simple terms, you are offside in rugby if you are in front of a team-mate who is carrying the ball or last played the ball.

2. Forward Pass in Rugby

A forward pass is an illegal part of play. You are not allowed to pass the ball forward to any team player positions if he is ahead of the ball.

3. ‘Knock on’ Regulations

The rugby ‘knock on‘ is vigorously regulated by the match referee. If the ball gets knocked forward towards your opponent’s try-line it gets ruled as a knock on.

What is the common reason for the ball moving forward from a ‘knock on’? It occurs most often when a player drops the ball or after losing possession of the ball. Following the knock on, and most rules infringements, the game restarts by forming a scrum. Players form the scrum as close as possible to where the foul or stoppage occurred.

4. Rugby Tackling Rules

Rugby tackles are among the basic principles of the sport. You have been physically tackled when you or the ball gets forced to the ground. As a rule it happens from a standing position by at least one tackling opponent (tacklers).

5. Foul Play and Penalties

Foul play or violent conduct in rugby is not tolerated by the match official. Players get penalised if the referee considers their play is unfair, dangerous, or obstructive.

Serious foul play or misconduct usually results in a spell inside the rugby sin bin. You can even get sent off the pitch permanently.

It looks like you avoided the early bath in our basics of rugby guide? Why not improve your rugby knowledge even further by checking through our frequently asked questions page?

Or try out some of the common keywords in rugby union. It is an interesting section listing all the official terms and playing definitions.


Laws of Scrummaging: RFU rugby rules and regulation for the rugby scrum.
Rugby Equipment List: A checklist of basic match kit needed for the game.
Rugby Union Maul Rules: Find out how rugby laws of the game govern mauling.
Rugby Positions for Dummies: How do 15 players fulfill different roles and responsibilities?
Rugby Sevens Rules: 7 regulations that make rugby 7s a fast-moving tournament game!
IWRF Wheelchair Rugby Rules with Pictures: A guide to playing wheelchair rugby.
6 Nations Rugby Union Championship: An informative guide to the Six Nations Tournament.
New Zealand All Blacks Haka Guide: The history behind the sport’s most feared pre-match ritual.
World Rugby Union Laws of the Game Official Rule Book [PDF Download Option].

The Basics of Rugby for Dummies | 5 Steps of Understanding Rugby Union