The Top 10 Rules Of Rugby

rugby rules and regulations

Rugby is a sport with two teams each consisting of 15 players. Each team can carry, pass, or kick the ball to the end zone in order to score as many points as possible. While popular in the United States, it is especially famous in Europe and parts of Australia.

Rugby is said to have originated at a school in Warwickshire, England, back in 1823. William Webb Ellis is the creator, hence the name of the World Cup Trophy being named after him. The Rugby Football Union was formed in 1871, and remains a top organization of the sport today.

What are the most important rules of rugby?

  1. Have Fun!
  2. Respect Your Opponents
  3. Avoid Going Offside
  4. Understand the Structure of the Game
  5. Avoid Foul Play
  6. Respect the Ref
  7. Make Sure to Pass Properly
  8. Tackle Properly
  9. Do not Violate the Drug Policy
  10. Understand the Ruck and the Maul

1. Have Fun!

Sports are supposed to be fun, and rugby is no exception. Whenever you are playing rugby, always try to make sure you are enjoying yourself. If you are losing or if you are not playing well, try to remember why you decided to take the field in the first place. Sometimes it can be hard to stay positive if you are getting crushed, but a glass half full mindset will benefit you and may even make you perform better. When you are having fun, your teammates and everyone else around will have fun as well. While rugby is extremely competitive, enjoying yourself should have an equal priority as emerging victorious.

2. Respect Your Opponents

Rugby is a very intense and competitive game with a lot of physical contact. Both you and your opponent want the same thing, which is victory. Unfortunately, only one team will win. Sometimes an opponent might play really aggressively and this may bother you. It is important for you to keep your composure and not do anything uncivil.

You also do not want to talk trash to opponents, because that can lead to something physical in the heat of a rugby game. Also, you will look pretty dumb if you talk trash, then an opponent dominates you. It is a competition, so you obviously do not need to be best friends with your opponent. You do however need to treat them like human beings, and acknowledge/embrace them at the end of a hard fought match.

3. Avoid Going Offside

Rugby Offsides

A basic rule of thumb for this law is that the player must always stay behind the ball if you plan on receiving a pass. The ball and the player on your team with the ball must always be ahead of you in relation to the opposing goal line. If you are not behind the player and the ball, then you are liable to be penalized and turn over possession to the other team. Being called for going offsides can be very demoralizing for a rugby team, and can often kill the offensive momentum of a squad.

4. Understand the Structure of the Game

Rugby Game Clock

It is important to know how the game is going to be operated when you are about to start.

The game of rugby has two periods, each of them are 40 minutes. Between the halves, there will be a maximum of a ten minute break before both teams change ends.

Before kickoff, there is a coin toss to determine who will kick off the match. The game is started by a place kick or a drop kick from the middle of the halfway line. The ball needs to travel at least ten meters on kickoff. If it does not, the opposing team will get the choice of a scrum or line-out by the halfway line. When penalties or drop goals are scored during the game, play is restarted with a drop kick from the halfway line. The team that has conceded the points takes the kick.

5. Avoid Foul Play

Rugby Foul Play

As mentioned, rugby is a sport with tremendous amounts of physical contact. That does not mean any type of physical contact is permitted. Punching, elbowing, kicking, headbutting, tripping, etc. are considered foul play and not permitted. 

Foul play is dangerous and has many different aspects. Tackling a player who does not have the ball is not permitted, nor can you tackle or shove somebody that is in the air. You are also not permitted to try and kick the ball out of the hands of the ball carrier, as that is also something that can injure your opponent.

Sanctions of foul play include penalties and sometimes ejection. If a player is being cautioned for foul play, the referee will show the player a yellow card and they will be suspended for ten minutes. If that player commits another penalty, then they will be sent off the field and not be allowed to return to the match. The player will also not be replaced, leaving the offending team down a player for the remainder of the game, so partaking in foul play will drastically hurt your team’s chances of winning.

6. Respect the Referee

Rugby Referees and Officials

The ref in rugby is there to do their job, and wants to get the calls right just as much as you want them to. It is important to not give the ref a hard time if he or she makes a mistake. Being rude or disrespectful to the ref will only hurt you and your team. Being polite to the ref will actually prove to be very helpful. On close calls, a ref will not be inclined to make a call in favor of you and your team if you have been disrespectful the whole time. Being on the bad side of a ref is one of the last things that you want in any sporting event.

Rugby is extremely competitive, and in the heat of the moment people might lose their temper if a bad call is made. While that is very common, it is very important to try and control your temper and not take out your anger on the ref. Chances are the ref will know they managed to make the wrong call and wishes he had the chance to correct himself. If you react calmly, a ref will sometimes make sure that the next close call will go in your team's favor.

7. Make Sure To Pass Properly

Rugby Pass

In rugby, there is a certain style of passing that you need to follow. You are not allowed to throw overhand like in most American sports. Rugby has many different types of passing techniques.

You make a pass in rugby with two hands moving across the front of your body. You can also apply spin to make the pass travel further.

Passing is a valuable skill for any rugby player, and it will be hard for a player to find success without strong passing ability. You are also not allowed to throw the ball forward to a teammate. If you are looking for a teammate to pass the ball to, he must be either by your side or behind you.

8. Tackle Properly

Rugby Tackle

Rugby is a very aggressive and physical game. The game involves a lot of hitting, which can lead to injuries. To prevent these injuries, it is important to know how to properly tackle them. This is for both your safety and your opponents safety, as an improper tackle can lead to injuries.

The only acceptable way to tackle is for a player to wrap his or her arms around an opponent in possession of the ball. Players are not allowed to tackle opponents above the shoulder, nor can they use their legs to tackle or trip them. You also need to fall to the ground with your opponent. Not doing so will be considered an illegal dump tackle.

Improper tackling can lead to severe injuries, as Rugby is a sport that does not include a lot of padding. The risks of injuries in Rugby increase dramatically when players do not follow the rules of tackling. 

9. Do Not Violate A League’s Drug Policy

Almost all professional and amateur sport leagues have drug policies. Performance enhancing drugs are a big part of sports, and are strictly prohibited for a variety of reasons.

Athletes will sometimes take drugs such as steroids because they believe it will increase their performance. This will give them an unfair competitive advantage against players who follow the rules. Not only are they illegal, but they are also unsafe. There are numerous side effects to these drugs, which is a big reason as to why they are illegal. When you take performance enhancing drugs, you are putting yourself at risk, while also damaging the integrity of the game.

Numerous leagues also do not allow “social” drugs, such as cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, and more. Even though they are not necessarily relevant to the competition, they are all still illegal and leagues do not want their players to be consuming illegal drugs. Players who return positive samples showing any of these drugs can face disciplinary action. Some leagues even have a starting point ban of two years. 

10. Understand the Ruck and Maul

rugby understand the ruck and maul

The ruck and the maul are two crucial elements of the game, but each contain differences that you must be aware of.

The ruck occurs when a player is tackled and the player immediately goes to the ground. The ball carrier must release the ball immediately, and there is then a race to see who can gain possession, providing it will remain in play. To gain position, both sides must try to drive over the ball to make it available for their teammates. After about five seconds, the referee will likely award a scrum to the team he thought had greater forward momentum in the ruck. 

The maul is somewhat similar; only the player carrying the ball remains on his feet, allowing his teammates to bind on and push their opponents back. In a maul, it usually begins with about three players, the ball carrier and one player from either team. However, the mound of players can expand to reach 10+ players. Oftentimes, mauls will be utilized when nearby the try line to secure a try. These are two simple plays, but it is important to understand the differences between them. 


What are the different ways to score points in rugby?

In rugby, there are four different ways to score points in rugby: tries, conversions, drop kicks, and penalties. Tries occur when the ball carrier crosses the try line and touches the ball to the ground, which is worth five points. Conversions are similar to extra points in football, in which a player will attempt to kick the ball through the posts after scoring a try. Successfully kicking a conversion is worth two points. Penalties are kicks taken after a penalty is committed by the opposition, and are worth three points if executed successfully. Lastly, drop kicks are scored when a ball carrier kicks the ball through the uprights during play. This is worth three points if done successfully.

What are illegal moves in rugby?

In rugby, illegal moves are anything that will result in a penalty. In terms of passing the ball, a player must throw it underhand and to a teammate that is either behind them or directly parallel to them. In terms of the latter, passing to anyone in front of you is considered offsides and will result in a turnover. Other illegal moves are ones that are considered to be dangerous to the opponent. Actions such as tackling above the shoulders (known as a “high tackle''), tripping, and any other actions deemed unnecessary will usually result in a penalty. If a player commits more than one of these illegal moves during a game, they will typically be sent off without replacement for the remainder of the game. In particularly egregious cases, a player can also be sent off for their first dangerous play.

Can you fight in rugby?

Fighting is absolutely forbidden in the sport of rugby. While some sports like ice hockey don’t mind a scuffle breaking out during play, getting into a physical altercation during a rugby match can result in a red card. Rugby, despite the seemingly brute nature of play, is meant to be a gentlemen’s game. With this in mind, it would be a drastically uncharacteristic move to allow fighting in the middle of a match. Rugby can be a physical sport, but this physicality is only permitted during standard play.