Home Page Image


Rugby Rules


Rugby football is a ball handling game. Each side (team) has 15 players; eight forwards and seven backs. Although the game of rugby contains similarities to American football, it has the speed and continuity of play like soccer. There are no personnel changes in rugby, substitutions are only allowed when a player is unable to continue in the game.


All 15 players have offensive and defensive responsibilities; every position must be able to run, pass, kick, and catch the ball. Rugby is played at a rapid pace, with few stoppages and frequent possession changes; therefore, ruggers have to be good, complete athletes.

The rugby game is governed by laws not rules, and the referee is the sole enforcer of those laws. The game clock is kept by the referee. Standard time for a match is two 40 minute halves; however, additional time is tacked on for treatment and recovery of injuries.


In rugby, all passes must be behind the ball handler; however, the ball handler has the option to kick the ball forward if advantageous. It is illegal to pass forward, fumble the ball forward, hold the ball after being tackled, lie on the ball, or throw it into "touch" (out of bounds). Play is continuous until a team scores, breaks a law, or puts the ball into touch. Violations of field laws are settled with penalties awarded, lineouts, or scrums. Scrums are the widely recognized play where a pack of eight men from each team push against each other to gain control of the ball.


Players strategize with runs, passes, and kicks to score a try past the opponent's goal line, which counts as five points. To score a try, the ball must be grounded by the player for it to count. A 2-point conversion follows the try; the kick is taken from a position in the field of play in line with the point where the try was scored. Even though a player has crossed the goal line with the ball, you may see him/her centering the ball near the goal posts for an easier conversion kick.


A team may also score with a drop kick (goal) or penalty kick from the field of play. A drop kick is performed by dropping the ball and kicking it as it hits the ground. When a severe penalty is committed, the opposing team may choose a penalty kick or "kick for points." Play is stopped and the penalty kick takes place at the point of the infraction. In either the drop kick or penalty kick the ball must pass over crossbar and between the goal posts to score.


If you like American football, you will surely like the game of rugby...come out and support RPI!


The Unofficial Survival Guide for Rugby Neophytes


Your First Match


Keep it simple at the beginning
- Tackle anyone that is carrying the ball, preferably not your own teammates or the referee. - When you get the ball run like hell, we would prefer that you run towards our opponent's goal area.


Your Second Match


Master the pass
-Pass the ball backwards to a teammate that is in a better position to advance the ball. Screaming and throwing the ball up in the air to avoid being hit is considered "bad form". - Follow slightly behind your teammate who is carrying the ball so that you can receive a pass. If you drop the ball continuously, you will become what they call a "forward".


Your Third Match


Master the kick
- Kick the ball forward over your opponents head and catch it on the run. If you are a forward then dropping the ball near your foot and stumbling over it qualifies as a kick.


Advanced Rugby Skills


Now that you have mastered basic rugby skill, we'll cover some of the finer points:


The Ruck - This is a situation where 3 to 20 people pile on top of the tackled player. Play is whistled dead by the the referee when all the air has been compressed out of the tackled player's lungs.


The Maul - Instead of being tackled to ground, the player is kept on his feet by the tacklers. The object is to bend as many of the ball carrier's fingers away from the ball. Play is whistled dead by the referee after the first cracking sound.


The Line Out - When the ball goes out of the playing area, a "throw in" is awarded. The object is to elbow the opposing player's face while attempting to catch the ball yourself.


Offside - In a ruck or maul situation you are not allowed to "steal" the ball from the opposition by running behind the play. It is mandatory that you step or stand on the tackled player first.


Scrum - The eight forwards bind together and push against the other team's forwards. The object is to abuse the forwards in a senseless pursuit of the ball while allowing the backs a chance to catch their breath.