Learning Rugby – Rugby Basics

Rugby Basics

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What is Rugby?

To start, it will be very vital to define Rugby and to answer the first basic question – What is Rugby?

Rugby League Football is one type of the Rugby sport, with the other being Rugby Union. But more countries are playing the safer, yet more entertaining mode of football called the Rugby League.


The Field

Rugby League is played in a grass field 120 meters long with a width ranging from 58 to 68 meters. The field is then divided by half, and will be called the halfway line. Fifty meters from each side of the halfway line will be assigned to a team, with the remaining 10 meters in each side being called the try lines.

At the middle of the goal lines will be a goal post shaped like an H, where players try to kick the ball above the crossbar of the post and its upward posts.


The Players

Players in Rugby League need to be large, quick and durable. The sport comes with exhausting contact and tremendous physicality but is not exclusive to men as there are women professional leagues today. Almost all players of rugby are buff but mobile enough to navigate in the 100-meter field.

There are two major positions in Rugby League; backs and forwards. Forwards, as the name implies, are those who lead the attack by paving ways while tackling the opponents so his team mates can carry the ball upward the field. Backs are called as such because they are usually at the back of the field, waiting for the forwards to create space so they can run and reach the goal lines.

But forwards and backs have their specializations, thus they are given different names that comes with their position. Forwards are also called props, hookers, second row forwards and lock forwards; while backs are also called full back, right wing threequarters, right center threequarters, left center threequarters, left wing threequarters, five-eighth and scrum-half.


The Kick-Off

Under this section, we will delve into the question how to play Rugby.

First of all, the objective of rugby league players is to put the ball into the opponents’ goal line for a try and earn four points, or kick the ball above the goal posts from 40 meters away for one point. The team with the most points after four periods of 15 minute-game time wins the game.

To start the game, there will be a coin toss between team captains and the winning captain will choose whether they will start the game by kicking off or receiving the kick off, or on where half of the field they should play the game.


The Points

After the receiving end of the kick-off gets the ball, the whole team should rush to where the ball is to defend it, while trying to gain meters and the ball. If the ball handler reaches the in-goal area of the opponents without fumbling the ball or being down on at least one knee, he will reach a try and will earn the team four points.

Most of the times, a ball handler will be tackled and thus stop at a certain point of the field, where the play will resume with a scrum. A scrum is where players bump head and shoulders to fight over the ball and advance it.

But the scrum is not necessarily needed, especially if a defender who completed the tackle got possession of the ball, which in case he can advance the ball to the opponents’ goal line for a try.

To avoid being tackled with the ball, the ball-handler must pass the ball to a team-mate, but that team mate must be behind the ball handler, otherwise will be called for illegally receiving the ball. If a ball-handler passes the ball to a team mate who is in front of him, that will be called an off-side play. Conversely, passing on-side means the ball handler is passing to a team-mate behind him.

Tackling in rugby league football also has rules, and this is important in learning how to play Rugby. Defenders, who are usually called the markers, need to stand in front of the advancing forwards and backs and are prevented to trip, grapple and exhibit unnecessary contact against them.

If markers disobey rules, the advancing team are given penalties, which the team can use by kicking the ball above the goal posts, though they need to be as far as 40 meters to use the penalty. Penalty kicks are worth two goals.

Unlike the PKs, drop goals are worth only one point and are rarely tried by any team. Drop goals are used only when the ball is in play and if the advancing team is as far as 40 meters from the goal post of the opponents.

An advancing team can only have six chances to advance and earn a try. If a team spent their six chances and were tackled every time before scoring a try, the ball possession will turn over, giving the other team a chance to score.

Even if an advancing team already have one to five of their allowable tackles, they will be given another six if the defending team causes a penalty or played an illegal tackle.



Since 1954, nations playing Rugby League Football have been participating in the Rugby League World Cup.

The first of its kind was held in France in 1954, where Australia dominated, and remained that way through the years, gathering nine titles in the World Cup, including six straight from 1975 to 2000.

Australia’s domination ended when New Zealand dethroned them in the 2008 World Cup in Australia.

Aside from Australia and New Zealand, countries like England, Scotland, France and even United States have amateur to professional leagues of rugby league. Most African countries play the sport, but most of them play the Rugby Union sport and not the Rugby League.