Rugby 101

The basics of rugby are easy to learn.

Even if you aren’t familiar with rugby, you’ve probably seen echoes of it in soccer, the sport out of which rugby grew, or football or basketball - both began after rugby and also contain some of rugby’s familiar elements.

Scoring is similar to football. A “try” is worth five points and is earned by touching the ball to the ground in the opponent’s “try zone,” similar to scoring a touchdown in football. After a try a player can kick the ball through the goalposts for two extra points. At any time, a player may drop-kick the ball through the goalposts for three points.

The gameplay is continuous, like soccer or basketball. Teams use a mix of creativity, speed, and power to move the ball down the field. Unlike American football, forward passing is forbidden; passes can only go backwards.

Defenses stop an opposing player with the ball by tackling him or her. Once a player is tackled, he or she must let go of the ball, and play continues (there are no downs, as in football).

The most popular version of rugby is called fifteens, or union, with 15 men or women on each team playing at one time. “Sevens” is a faster variation, only played in tournaments, with seven players on each side, and made its Olympic debut in 2016 in Rio.

The best way to learn is to watch a game in person! At Infinity Park, in-game commentary helps newcomers keep track of the action. You’ll also find rugby players in the stands, answering questions and explaining the nuances of the game.

Rugby 101 Guide