Whether you are interested in being a fan or a player, you will need to know the rules of rugby.

Rugby is very similar to American football, but it doesn’t allow a forward pass, and the game is not broken into sets of downs.

A simple explanation (using American terms):

The game is played in two forty-minute halves with a running clock, similar to soccer.

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Captain Hannah Pfersch talking to the ref before the game.

Teams advance the ball by punting the ball or using a backward pass, much like a lateral in American football. Each team has 15 players. Those players are broken into two groups: the forwards and the backs. The fowards are like the offensive or defensive line in American football. They do a lot of pushing and shoving. The backs are like the wide receivers or defensive backs in American football. They do a lot of the running and tackling. That being said, everyone is responsible for playing defense and offense on the field. Unlike American football, there are no mass substitutions, as the team gets a limited amount of substitutions, just like in soccer.

When a player is tackled with the ball, they must release the ball. Sometimes the ball is release as a pass to a teammate but often it is placed on the ground. Any player from either team who steps over the ball may pick it up and gain possession. Sometimes both teams try to step over the ball at the same time and a pushing match called a ruck occurs. The team that wins the ruck gets to pick up the ball and gain possession.

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The team getting instructions from the ref.

Teams score by advancing the ball into the end zone AND placing it with control on the ground. This is called a try and is worth 5 points. The ball is moved back from where the ball was placed on the ground in order to take an extra point conversion. This is why some players will run to the middle of the end zone before placing the ball in order to make the ensuing extra point attempt easier on the kicker. If the kicker succeeds in making this kick, it is worth 2 points. There are other situations where teams can kick “field goals” for 3 points. This mostly happens after a penalty.

CLICK HERE for team’s brief overview of rugby specifics (good for beginners)

CLICK HERE for more in-depth rules from the World Rugby Union (good for beginners)

CLICK HERE for advanced rules from USA Rugby

CLICK HERE for the official rule book of the World Rugby Union

CLICK HERE for Coach Vic’s Blog What Is Rugby (great for beginners)