Rugby Beginners Guide- How to Play Rugby?

Rugby Beginners Guide- How to Play Rugby?

If you want to learn how to play Rugby, you are in the right place.

Rugby is a fun and very popular game around the world. There are many Rugby clubs and teams that can be found in diverse places like Japan. The game is all about using the strength and the right technique.

In this rugby guide for dummies, we have shared everything that you must know to play the game. From how rugby works, to scoring to basic rugby rules, and the number of players in a rugby team, we have covered it all.  

Let’s get to learning!

How To Play Rugby Union Game

Let’s get to know what is a rugby game:

Rugby is a ball game played with two teams, each of which has 15 players. Each team is allowed to pass, carry or kick the ball to the End Zone and score maximum points. The team that scores the highest points wins the match.

The rugby game is played for two halves, each of 40 minutes and with a 5-minute halftime. There is one referee and two judges to control the game. No timeouts are allowed between the game. The only exception is on referee’s discretion, for an injured player, to decide whether to continue to play.

Teams can only make seven replacements per game. Six replacements are on the team’s discretion, and seventh is made for the injured player. After a player is substituted, he is not allowed to rejoin. A player can rejoin if the substitution was temporary for a blood injury. However, in this case, he needs to return to the game within ten minutes or permanently substitute.

The game starts with a kickoff taken from the center of the field. The team that catches the ball tries to score a try when the rugby ball is in play. Try is scored when the player with the ball touches the ball to the opponent’s in-goal ground. One try is five points. After scoring a try, the scoring team gets the opportunity to score a goal by kicking the ball to the opponent’s goalposts. for successful goal team scores two points, known as the conversion points.

The ball must be kicked from a perpendicular line where the ball touched down. If during this time, opponents tea commits a penalty, the offended team can male a penalty kick for three more points; it can be either a drop kick or goal from anywhere in the field.

During the rugby game, players run towards the goal, but the ball is not passed forward. The ball is always passed back to the teammates while moving forwards towards the goal. The opponent team may obstruct the player from moving forward carrying the ball. Once the player is tackled, he must pass the ball immediately to the teammates or release the ball and move away.

Have you heard about Sin Bin: the player who breaks the rugby rules repeatedly or infringes a major rule, is given a yellow card and sent off for 10 minutes, without being replaced. If the player is shown a second yellow card or makes a serious infringement, he will get a red card, and get kicked out of the game.

The Objective

How does rugby work? 

The two teams of 15 players play the game to compete for territory in order to run through, past, and over the opponent’s team with an aim to ground the ball in the goal area or kick the rugby ball at the end of the field. All the players try to dive and tackle through opponents to deny field position or win and move forward through different stoppages. The team that scores the maximum points wins the game at the end.

Open Play

Now let’s learn about the basic rules of rugby open game.

Like you know, rugby balls cannot be passed forward and the players can only pass the ball backward or laterally. In rugby open play, the team players form a horizontal line across the ground (like the line of Scrimmage of American Football) and aim to pass the ball down the line to find gaps in the defense. 

When the defense plays tight, the ball carrier tries to run directly into the opposition, using full strength to gain yards after contact to press forward. If the offense player is able to maneuver the ball through the defense, the ball carrier may run trough the defense towards the downfield.

In addition to no forward passing, any ball movement caused by hand is considered “knock-on” unless it is caught before it lands on the ground. 

Defenders are allowed to tackle anywhere below the shoulder and players should use only their arms in a tackle. 


The main aim of the rugby game is to score more than the opposition team. There are four different ways of scoring in rugby games. 

  • Try: scoring a try is the most valuable for the game. This means touching the ball to the ground in the goal area or goal line of the opponent team. One try is worth five points, and the earning team gets the opportunity to attempt a conversion kick.
  • Conversion Kick: The conversion kick is worth two additional points. The conversion kick is made from the point when the ball was touched. Therefore it’s best to make scoring as close to the posts as possible.
  • Penalty kick: Penalties for different infractions can be used for advantage to make a kicked goal, worth three points.
  • Dropped Goal: a dropped goal occurs when the player drops the ball on the ground and kicks it just when it bounces. If it goes through uprights, it is worth three points.

Basic Rugby Formations:

The Ruck

One or more team players stand in close contact with each other and close to the ball on the ground. Once the ruck is formed, players cannot use their hands to take the ball; they can only use their feet. A ruck ends after the ball emerges out of the ruck, or the referee orders a scrum.

After the player tackles the opponent in a regular play to the ground, the game continues, and a ruck can be reformed. Immediately after bringing to the ground, the tackled player should release the ball and roll to have the back towards the opposing team.

Penalties in a rugby rick are awarded for: a grounded tackler tries to steal the ball; a grounded tackled player does not leave the ball; the grounded player does not get out the ruck fast; joining a ruck from the side; going to the ground inside a ruck; falling on the ball from an offside position, fooling the opposition to believe the ball is out of ruck or intentionally collapsing the ruck.


When one or more team players are on their feet in close contact to each other closing around the ball carrier. A maul ends when the rugby ball falls on the ground, a ruck or the ball carries comes out of the maul or in case the referee orders the scrummage. 

Any number of players from a team can bind together into a maul, then it all comes down to their technique and strength collectively to shuffle downfield. If the offense moves forward, the defense cannot send too many players to form maul because the team will remain outnumbered in the field. In this case, the offense can end the maul quickly, and the ball can be passed to the teammates, making it easy to score a try.

If, after five seconds of formation, Maul does not move forward, the referee orders a scrum.

 Penalties in a maul can also be awarded: Intentionally ending the maul, going to the ground inside a maul, fooling the opposition for leaving the ball, or dragging the player outside the maul.


Eight players of every team form a scrum. The ball is thrown inside the group, and both the teams try to push against the opposing teams player assembled to compose for the ball’s possession. Scrums being the play after small infractions. The scrum ends as soon as one of the teams gets possession of the rugby ball and moves down the field.

With so many players moving inside a scrum, it can get difficult for referees to determine when a foul is committed and who is responsible.

Penalties can be awarded for making the scrum collapse, forcing or lifting an opponent upwards, handling the ball into a scrum, fooling the opposition by making them believe that the ball is out of the scrum.


In a lineout, both the teams line up against one another, then one of the team throws the ball in the center of the tunnel. Line out restarts the game after the ball or the player holding the ball goes out of bounds. When the ball is over the sidelines, or the players hand the ball when still out of the bounds, the game is restarted by the lineout. 


Players are allowed to kick the ball in any direction for strategic purposes. When the opponent team is coming close, the player may kick the ball high in the air or along the ground for their teammate to catch it and hopefully score a try.  

Final Words:

Rugby is a popular game and is played around the world. Both Men and Women world cup is held every four years. If you are interested but don’t know how to play Rugby, this article will be insightful. The basic rules of rugby and how rugby works, some common formations, everything is mentioned in this Rugby Guide. 

Some of the most prominent nations of rugby around the world are the British Isles (Wales, England, Scotland, Ireland), southern Africa (RSA, Namibia), western Europe (France, Italy), Oceania (New Zealand, Fiji, Australia, Tonga, Samoa), South America (Argentina), Asia (Japan). 

Many professional rugby leagues are held around the world. The biggest competition of them all is Premiership Rugby held in England.

Rugby teams across the world have different playing styles. The weather is the primary deciding factor of game style-dry weather means free run and free-flowing long passes; rainy weather means ground-bound with a major focus on forward-driven rugby.

Rugby demands the players to follow a strict fitness regime and regular exercise. Learn how to get fit for rugby.

So now that you know all the basics of rugby, go gather some friends and play rugby!


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