How to Play Rugby (Guide)

Rugby is an exhilarating sport that combines physicality, skill, and strategy. Whether you’re a beginner or looking to brush up on your rugby knowledge, this guide will provide you with the essential information to get started. From understanding the rules to mastering different positions and honing your skills, we’ve got you covered.

First and foremost, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the rugby rules. Knowing how the game is played and what is expected of you on the field is essential for a smooth and enjoyable experience. Additionally, learning the various positions in rugby will help you understand your role and responsibilities within the team. Whether you’re a forward or a back, each position brings its own unique contributions to the game.

Once you have a good grasp of the rules and positions, it’s time to focus on developing the necessary skills. Rugby demands physical strength, agility, and quick decision-making. Training regularly and practicing key skills such as passing, tackling, and kicking will enhance your performance on the field.

Lastly, don’t underestimate the importance of proper training. Rugby is a physically demanding sport, and ensuring you are well-prepared is vital to minimize the risk of injury. Participating in training programs like Rugby Ready can provide you with valuable knowledge, resources, and guidance to enhance your rugby journey.

how to play rugby

Key Takeaways:

  • Understand the rules of rugby to play the game effectively.
  • Familiarize yourself with different positions and their roles within the team.
  • Develop essential skills like passing, tackling, and kicking through regular practice.
  • Seek proper training and guidance to improve your performance and reduce the risk of injury.
  • Embrace the physicality, skill, and strategy that rugby offers for an exhilarating experience.

The History of Rugby

Rugby, a popular sport known for its physicality and intensity, has a rich history that dates back centuries. The origin of rugby is often attributed to a legendary event that took place at Rugby School in England in 1823. According to the famous story, a young student named William Webb Ellis, during a game of soccer, picked up the ball and ran with it, establishing a new style of play that would eventually become rugby. While the exact veracity of this tale is disputed, it symbolizes the spirit of innovation and adventure that characterizes the sport.

However, it’s important to note that variations of the game involving running with a ball had already existed for many years before this event. Ancient civilizations, such as the Romans and Greeks, played similar games that involved carrying or kicking a ball. These early versions of the sport laid the foundation for the development of modern rugby.

Over time, rugby evolved and gained popularity, particularly in the British Isles. The sport spread to different parts of the world through colonial influence and international competitions. Today, rugby is played at various levels, from grassroots clubs to professional leagues, and has become a global phenomenon, captivating millions of fans and players worldwide.

The Evolution of Rugby

“Rugby is a game for barbarians played by gentlemen.” – Winston Churchill

Throughout its history, rugby has undergone significant changes. Initially, the sport was played without rigid rules, leading to a wide range of interpretations and play styles. However, as the game grew in popularity and became more organized, efforts were made to establish standardized rules and regulations.

In 1871, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) was formed in England, marking a pivotal moment in the development of modern rugby. The RFU introduced several key rules, including the prohibition of carrying the ball forward, which led to the distinction between rugby and soccer.

Since then, rugby has continued to evolve, with rule changes and refinements being made to enhance player safety and improve the flow of the game. The introduction of the Rugby World Cup in 1987 further elevated the sport’s status and increased its global appeal.

The history of rugby is a testament to the enduring spirit of competition, camaraderie, and sportsmanship. Whether you’re a casual observer or an avid player, understanding the origins and evolution of the sport can provide a deeper appreciation for the game and its cultural significance.

Understanding the Terms in Rugby

Rugby has its own unique terminology that can be confusing for newcomers to the sport. Here are some key terms that will help you understand the game:


A ruck is formed when players from both teams contest for control of the ball after a tackle has occurred. It occurs at the point where the tackle took place and involves players binding together and attempting to secure possession of the ball.


A maul is when a group of players from the same team binds onto the player with the ball, forming a dynamic contest for possession. Players from the opposing team will try to push them to the ground in order to gain control of the ball.


A scrum is a set piece that occurs after an offense has been committed. It involves players from both teams binding together and contesting for the ball. The team that is awarded the scrum puts the ball into the scrum, and the two teams then compete for possession.


A line-out occurs when the ball goes out of bounds. Players from both teams line up perpendicular to the touchline, and one player from the team that did not touch the ball last throws the ball back into play. The opposing team attempts to win possession of the ball in the line-out.

Understanding these terms will give you a better grasp of the game and allow you to follow the action more effectively. Keep in mind that rugby is a fast-paced and physical sport, so it’s essential to familiarize yourself with these terms to fully appreciate the game.

The Field and Its Dimensions

Rugby is played on a field that has specific dimensions and markings. Understanding the layout of the field is essential for players to strategize and execute their moves effectively. Let’s explore the dimensions and markings of a rugby field.

Field Dimensions

A standard rugby field has a maximum width of 70 meters and a maximum length of 100 meters. The field consists of various lines and zones that serve different purposes during the game.

Key Markings

The try line is a crucial marking on the field. It is located at each end of the playing area and marks the boundary where players can score a try by touching the ball down in the opponent’s try zone.

The touch lines run parallel to the length of the field on either side. If the ball goes out of bounds, it is considered out of play, and a line-out is awarded to the opposing team.

The dead ball lines are located at the ends of the in-goal areas. These lines demarcate the boundary of the field and signify that the ball is dead, either after a try is scored or when the ball goes beyond the dead ball line.

Other important markings on the field include the 22-meter line, the 10-meter line, and the halfway line. These lines are used for various purposes during the game, such as line-outs, kick-offs, and determining kicking distances.

Table: Rugby Field Dimensions

Dimension Metric Measurement Imperial Measurement
Maximum Field Width 70 meters 229.66 feet
Maximum Field Length (excluding try zones) 100 meters 328.08 feet
Try Line Length 5 meters 16.4 feet
In-Goal Depth 10 meters 32.81 feet

Understanding the dimensions and markings of a rugby field is essential for players to navigate the game effectively. It provides a framework for positioning, scoring, and executing strategic plays during a rugby match.

Exploring Forward Positions

In rugby, the forwards play a crucial role in the team’s strategy and physicality. Let’s take a closer look at the key forward positions:

1. Loose-head Prop (Jersey Number: 1)

The loose-head prop is an essential player in the scrum, wearing jersey number 1. They provide support to the hooker and help stabilize the scrum. Their strength and technique are crucial in maintaining the team’s forward momentum.

2. Hooker (Jersey Number: 2)

The hooker, wearing jersey number 2, has the responsibility of throwing the ball into the line-out. They must have precision and accuracy in their throws to ensure their team gains possession. The hooker also plays a vital role in the scrum, providing stability and helping to drive forward.

3. Tight-head Prop (Jersey Number: 3)

Wearing jersey number 3, the tight-head prop is the opposite side of the scrum as the loose-head prop. They provide strength and stability on their side of the scrum, helping to hold the opposition back and gain traction for their team.

4. Second Rows (Jersey Numbers: 4 and 5)

The second rows, wearing jersey numbers 4 and 5, support the front row in applying pressure during the scrum. Their height and strength make them valuable assets in line-outs as well, where they compete for the ball and secure possession for their team.

5. Flankers (Jersey Numbers: 6 and 7)

The flankers, wearing jersey numbers 6 and 7, are versatile players who provide support in various areas of the game. They are often involved in both attacking and defensive plays, assisting the forwards in breakdowns and ensuring the team maintains possession.

6. 8 Man (Jersey Number: 8)

The 8 man, wearing jersey number 8, plays a pivotal role in pushing the team forward from the back of the scrum. They possess strength and skill, using their power to gain ground and create opportunities for the team to advance.

Understanding the roles and responsibilities of each forward position is essential for a successful rugby team. The forwards’ physicality and strategic contributions form the foundation of the game, setting the stage for the backs to execute their plays. Together, they work as a cohesive unit to achieve victory on the rugby field.

Understanding Back Positions

In the game of rugby, the back positions play a crucial role in the team’s strategy and execution. These positions require speed, agility, and excellent decision-making skills. Let’s dive into the key back positions and their responsibilities:


The scrum-half, wearing jersey number 9, is the link between the forwards and the backs. They are responsible for retrieving the ball from the ruck or scrum and distributing it to the fly-half or other backs. The scrum-half needs to have quick reflexes and accurate passing abilities to keep the team’s attacking momentum.


Wearing jersey number 10, the fly-half is often considered the playmaker of the team. They are responsible for deciding the plays, directing the team’s strategy, and orchestrating the backline movements. The fly-half needs to have strong kicking and passing skills, as well as exceptional decision-making abilities in high-pressure situations.


The centers, wearing jersey numbers 12 and 13, are positioned between the fly-half and the wings. They play a vital role in both the attacking and defensive phases of the game. The centers receive the ball from the fly-half and use their speed and agility to break through the opposition’s defensive line or make crucial tackles.


The wing players, wearing jersey numbers 11 and 14, are known for their speed and ability to finish tries. They are responsible for staying wide on the field, receiving passes, and using their pace to outmaneuver the opposition’s defense. The wings also play a crucial role in defending the flanks and preventing the opposition from making easy breaks.


Wearing jersey number 15, the full-back is positioned deep in the defense and is responsible for retrieving kicks and launching counter-attacks. The full-back plays a vital role in covering the backline, making tackles, and ensuring the last line of defense is secure. They also need to have strong kicking abilities to clear the ball and relieve pressure.

Understanding the various back positions in rugby is essential for players to excel in their roles and contribute to the team’s success. Each position requires specific skills and attributes, from speed and agility to decision-making and defensive prowess. By mastering their respective roles, the backs can effectively execute the team’s strategies and play a significant role in scoring tries and preventing the opposition from doing the same.

The Basics of Scoring in Rugby

In rugby, teams have several ways to score points during a game. The most common method is by scoring a try, which is worth 5 points. A try is earned when a player successfully touches the ball down in the opponent’s try zone. It’s important to note that the ball must be grounded with downward pressure to be considered a try.

After a try is scored, the team also has the opportunity to earn additional points through a conversion kick. A successful conversion kick, made from a spot perpendicular to where the try was scored, adds 2 points to the team’s score. The kick must pass between the two goal posts and above the crossbar to be considered successful. This means that a conversion kick can significantly impact the final score of a game.

Scoring in rugby extends beyond tries and conversions. Teams can also score points by kicking penalty goals or drop goals. A penalty goal is awarded when the opposing team commits a penalty, and the team can choose to kick for goal. If successful, a penalty goal is worth 3 points. A drop goal, on the other hand, is taken during open play when a player successfully kicks the ball through the goal posts. A drop goal is worth 3 points as well.

Scoring Method Points
Try 5
Conversion 2
Penalty Goal 3
Drop Goal 3

Understanding the different ways to score in rugby is essential for players and fans alike. It adds excitement to the game and allows for intense strategic decision-making by teams. Whether it’s scoring a try, converting the kick, or adding points through penalties and drop goals, scoring in rugby is a thrilling aspect of the sport.

Gameplay and Ball Possession

In rugby, ball possession is a key factor that can determine the outcome of a match. Maintaining control of the ball is essential for both offense and defense strategies. Here are some important aspects of gameplay and ball possession in rugby:


Tackling is a fundamental skill in rugby that is used to stop the opposing team’s progress and regain possession of the ball. It involves using proper technique and physicality to bring the ball carrier to the ground. Tackling requires players to aim for the ball carrier’s waist or below and use their arms to wrap and bring them down. It is crucial to tackle effectively to prevent the opposing team from advancing or scoring a try.


Rucking is a contested area on the ground where players from both teams compete for the ball after a tackle. It involves players from the attacking team (the team in possession of the ball) and the defending team. The attacking players aim to secure and protect the ball, while the defending players try to steal or disrupt possession. Rucking requires physicality, teamwork, and strategic positioning to gain an advantage and maintain possession.

Ball Control

Effective ball control is vital in rugby to minimize turnovers and maintain possession. Players must have good handling skills, including passing, catching, and offloading the ball. The ability to pass accurately and quickly allows the team to maintain continuity in their attack and exploit gaps in the defense. Additionally, players should be able to secure the ball during contact situations, such as rucks and mauls, to prevent turnovers and maintain control.

Aspect Importance
Tackling Crucial for regaining possession and stopping the opposing team’s progress.
Rucking Allows teams to compete for the ball after a tackle and gain an advantage in possession.
Ball Control Minimizes turnovers and allows teams to maintain continuity in their attack.

Mastering the skills of tackling, rucking, and ball control is essential for players looking to excel in rugby. Regular practice, proper technique, and understanding the importance of ball possession are key to success on the field. By honing these skills, players can contribute to their team’s success and enjoy the excitement and strategic nature of rugby.

Training and Skills Development

Training is a key component of becoming a skilled rugby player. By dedicating time and effort to training, players can improve their physical abilities and develop the necessary skills to excel on the field. Rugby training typically involves a combination of conditioning exercises, skill drills, and tactical preparation.


Physical fitness is crucial in rugby, as the game demands strength, speed, agility, and endurance. Conditioning exercises such as running, sprinting, and interval training help improve cardiovascular fitness and build muscular endurance. Additionally, strength training exercises such as weightlifting and bodyweight exercises help players develop the necessary power and strength to excel in tackles, rucks, and scrums.

Skills Development

Developing rugby skills requires consistent practice and repetition. Players should focus on mastering skills such as passing, catching, kicking, and tackling. Skill drills can be conducted individually or in groups and should be designed to simulate game situations. For example, passing drills can involve players passing the ball quickly and accurately while being pressured by defenders. Tackling drills can focus on technique, body positioning, and timing.

Tactical Preparation

In addition to physical conditioning and skills development, rugby training includes tactical preparation. This involves understanding and practicing specific game strategies, set plays, and defensive structures. Coaches work closely with players to develop game plans, analyze opponents, and enhance decision-making skills on the field.

Rugby Training Benefits Rugby Skill Drills Tactical Preparation
  • Improved physical fitness
  • Enhanced strength and power
  • Increased speed and agility
  • Improved endurance
  • Passing drills
  • Catching drills
  • Kicking drills
  • Tackling drills
  • Game strategies
  • Set plays
  • Defensive structures
  • Decision-making skills


Playing rugby is an exhilarating sport that combines physicality, skill, and strategy. By familiarizing yourself with the rules, positions, and techniques, you can fully immerse yourself in the game. It is important to prioritize safety and undergo proper training to mitigate the risk of injuries. Remember to always seek guidance from experienced coaches and continue practicing to enhance your rugby abilities.

Whether you are new to the sport or a seasoned player, rugby offers a thrilling experience like no other. From the rich history of the game to the intricacies of ball possession and scoring, there is always something to learn and improve upon. Dedicate time to training and skill development, focusing on fundamental aspects such as passing, tackling, and kicking. By honing these abilities, you will become a more confident and effective player on the field.

So, take the first step on your rugby journey today! Embrace the challenge, embrace the camaraderie, and embrace the excitement that comes with playing this incredible sport. With dedication and perseverance, you can become a formidable rugby player and forge lasting memories on and off the field. Get ready to tackle, sprint, and score – the world of rugby awaits!


How do you play rugby?

To play rugby, you need to know the rules and positions, and develop the necessary skills. Practice passing, tackling, and kicking to become proficient in the game.

What is the history of rugby?

Rugby originated in England, with a popular legend suggesting that it started when a student named William Webb Ellis picked up the ball during a soccer game in 1823. However, variations of the game involving running with a ball had existed for centuries.

What are some key terms in rugby?

Here are some important rugby terms to know: ruck, maul, scrum, and line-out. These terms refer to different situations and tactics in the game.

What are the dimensions of a rugby field?

A rugby field should have a maximum width of 70 meters and a maximum length of 100 meters (excluding try zones). It also has various lines, such as the 22-meter line, 10-meter line, halfway line, and try line.

What are the positions in rugby?

There are different positions in rugby. Key forward positions include loose-head prop, hooker, tight head prop, second rows, flankers, and 8 man. Key back positions include scrum-half, fly-half, centers, wings, and full-back.

How do you score in rugby?

Teams can score by touching the ball down in the opponent’s try zone, which is called a try and worth 5 points. After scoring a try, the team can attempt a conversion kick, which adds 2 points to the score.

How do you maintain ball possession in rugby?

In rugby, ball possession is crucial. When tackled, players must immediately pass or release the ball. A contest called a ruck often occurs when players from both teams push against each other to gain possession.

How do you train and develop skills in rugby?

Training and skill development are essential in rugby. Regular practice sessions should focus on passing, tackling, kicking, and other fundamental skills. Coaches often facilitate training sessions that include drills designed to improve specific aspects of the game.

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