Rugby Terms

Drop Goal: At any point in the game, a player may attempt to kick the ball through the uprights to score 3 points. However, the ball must bounce off the ground before the kick, making this a very difficult way of scoring. Drop goals are usually only seen at higher levels of rugby.

Match: Game. It consists of two continuous 40-minute halves and a 10 minute halftime.

Maul: A spontaneous battle between the two teams, it arises when the ball carrier is stopped by the other team but is able to remain on his feet. Ideally, the ball carrier should turn back to face his teammates while holding the ball securely. Although his teammates can’t block the other team, they are allowed to push against him, or take the ball. The other team does their best to stop the man with the ball from advancing forward. Mauls usually occur close to the other team’s try zone.

Pitch: The field where matches are played. The pitch varies in size, ranging anywhere from the size of a standard soccer field to much smaller.

Ruck: A spontaneous fight for possession. When the ball carrier is tackled, he must immediately release the ball. At this point, anywhere from 1 to 4 members of each team (usually forwards) try to advance past the ball so that their scrumhalf may gain control of it.  Teamwork, as well as technique, speed, and strength are important to win the ball.

Scrum: A set piece battle between the two teams for possession of the ball. It involves all eight forwards of each team. They get in a compact formation and try to push the other team backwards so that the hooker can kick the ball back to the scrum half, allowing that team to gain control of the ball. This requires a great deal of technique, strength, and most importantly, team cooperation.

Try Zone: Is the scoring area similar to an end zone in football. To score a try, the player with the ball must touch it down with force in the try zone.

Try: A try is similar to a touchdown, though unlike football in rugby one must touch the ball down in the try zone for it to count. The goal is to run toward the center of the uprights to gain a better advantage in the conversion kick. Worth 5 points.

Conversion Kick: Similar to a field goal, a conversation kick is made after a try has been scored. Where the ball is touched on the try zone, the kicker must place the ball directly from that point on the pitch and kick it between the uprights to score an additional 2 points. Because of this, it is more advantageous to touch the ball down closer to the center of the field for easier kicks.

Third Half/Social: A vitally important part of the rugby experience. The hosting team usually throws a party after the match at a nearby bar with food and drinks.

Rugby Positions

Forwards: Sometimes compared to linemen in American football. Forwards are always involved in the scrums, and usually an important part of rucks. Forwards also usually do more tackling than backs. Unlike football, however, most forwards get to carry the ball at least a few times a match. Their main function, however, is to get the ball to the backs and then support them. Their positions are as follows:

Hooker (Number 2): In the scrum, the hooker is responsible for kicking (hooking) the ball back to the pack. In lineouts, he always throws the ball in from out of bounds. Hookers are typically short, stocky, and tough.

Prop (Numbers 1 and 3): In the scrum, the props support the hooker and directly push against the other team’s hookers. In lineouts, they usually lift the jumper(s). Props are also typically short, stocky, and strong.

Lock/Second Row (Numbers 4 and 5): The engine room of the scrum, the second row provides most of the forward drive. Locks are usually the biggest and tallest players on the team, and are sometimes jumpers in lineouts.

Flanker (Numbers 6 and 7): Flankers can best be compared to defensive ends in American football: their job is to tackle the ball carrier wherever he is. Their main function in the scrum is to keep the props compact by pushing in from the side, but they also provide forward drive. In lineouts, flankers are usually jumpers or held back to take the ball quickly or tackle the opposing team’s runners. Flankers should be extremely physically fit and fast, but big enough to tackle anyone on the opposing team.

Eight Man (Number 8): The Eight Man serves as the coach of the forwards, along with the Scrum Half. In the scrum, his main responsibility is to protect the ball until the Scrum Half has control of it, as well as providing push with the second rows. He has a similar role to the flankers overall, and should also possess a combination of speed, size, and fitness.

Backs:More or less do the majority of the scoring for their team. They rely on their speed and agility to score their team some points. Their positions are as follows:

Scrum Half (number 9): The scrum half is the go-between the forwards and the backs: he puts the ball in a scrum, gets it out, and usually directs a lot of the traffic.

Fly Half (number 10): The fly half is the main play-caller on the team, much like a quarterback. He receives the ball from the scrum half and either distributes to the rest of the backs or keeps it himself.  He is in charge of keeping the right spacing and distancing of all the backs.

Inside center (number 12): He is usually a bigger, stronger back that can deliver and take hits. He is involved in most of the offensive plays.

Outside center (number 13): He is probably the best running-back on the team but not necessarily the fastest team member. He also needs to give and take big hits.

Wingers (number 11 and 14): They are used for their speed and agility, generally smaller players though fitness is really what makes or breaks this position.

Fullback (number 15): Fullbacks can occasionally join the offense and be the focus of a play, but usually they are the last line of defense, much like a sweeper in soccer, or a safety in football. He receives all the opposing team’s kicks and must be both punter and punt-returner, usually one of the fastest players on the team.