What Are The Rules For Scoring Points In Rugby?

How does one score points in the game of rugby? What is a "try" in rugby? Are there similarities between scoring in rugby and scoring in American football? What are the differences between scoring points in rugby union and rugby league? Get ready to learn about rugby scoring.

Scoring of Rugby

There are four ways to score points in rugby. Even though they are worth different numbers of points in different competitions (rugby union or rugby league), they are still attained the same way. They are:

  • Try
  • Goal Kick (conversion)
  • Drop Goal
  • Penalty Kick
Type of scorePoints awarded (rugby league)Points awarded (rugby union)
Goal Kick (Following the Try)
  • 2
  • 2
Drop Goal13
Penalty Kick23

Where Scoring Happens

All scoring in rugby happens at the opposite ends of the field, at either the goal line or the goal posts.

Goal Line

A try is scored in between the goal line and the end of the field. Since a try is worth the most points, the team on offense will always be attempting to cross the goal line, and the team on defense will work hard to keep them out.

This scoring area is similar to the "end zone" in American football.

Goal Posts

All other scoring occurs by kicking the ball through the goal posts. Unlike American football, where the goal posts are located at the back of the end zone, rugby goal posts are situated directly on the goal line.


Tries are scored when a player touches the ball to the ground across the opposing team's goal line.

A try counts for four points in rugby union and five points in rugby league.

Goal Kicks

Once a try is scored, the scoring team will have a chance to add more points through a conversion, known as a goal kick. (This is similar to an extra point in American football.) This is the only time a goal kick can occur in rugby.

A goal kick is a drop kick that must go through the goalposts.

Goal kicks are worth two points in both rugby union and rugby league.

Drop Goals

Drop goals are usually attempted when the offense is getting tired and will not be able to score a try. (These are similar to field goals in American football.)

Drop goals are drop kicks that occur during the run of play. They must go between the uprights of the goal posts.

Drop goals are worth one point in rugby league and three points in rugby union.

Penalty Kicks

When one team commits a penalty, the other team has a choice of restarting play where the penalty occurred (like a foul in soccer) or attempting a penalty kick.

Penalty kicks are scored by kicking the ball through the goalposts from the spot on the field where the penalty occurred. The kicker can use a place kick, drop kick, or punt the ball to do this.

A penalty kick is worth two points in rugby league and three points in rugby union.