Like all sports, rugby football is pretty simple – score more points than your opponent and you win. How those points are scored are where it gets a bit more complex. And complicating things further is the fact that there are different versions of the game being played. Read the history of rugby to understand how the game originated and how the versions being played today have evolved over the years. In North America, you are most likely being exposed to rugby union.
Once you know if the game you are learning is played with 7, 13 or 15 players per side, you’ll be in a position to learn the most common on-field situations that occur. The terms that you will hear most often are scrum, line-out, tackle, ruck and maul. These are described in more detail on our rugby rules page. Understanding how these situations unfold on the field, and what is expected of the players in each case, is key to appreciating the complex nature of this thrilling game.
Throughout our site we will refer to the different versions of rugby as sevens (7 players per side), league (13 players per side) or union (15 players per side).
A try is scored when a player carries the ball across the opponent’s goal line and touches the ball down before the dead ball line. Once a try is scored, the ball can be kicked through the end zone uprights for a conversion. The points awarded differ slightly in the various versions of the game.
The rugby positions also differ depending on whether the
game is sevens, union or league. Many players end up in specific positions
based on their size and ability when they start playing. If you’re quick and
agile, there’s a good chance you will play wing. If you are solid as a brick, and
deliver a crushing blow, you may be playing the position of prop. As players’
skill, size and conditioning develops, their position within the game may
change also. In the beginning, all players will learn some key skills and then
the focus will be on position-specific strength, conditioning and proficiency.
Healthy eating, hydration and supplements will also play a vital role for rugby football athletes. Advice and recommendations for this aspect of the game generally come from coaches and trainers and are usually position-specific.