Rugby Basics

New to Rugby?

No problem! Check out these quick rugby facts about how the game is played. Want to learn more? Download a Beginner’s Guide to Rugby.

Rugby is for people of all ages, sizes, shapes, and capacities. There is no “typical rugby player.” This is a rare, all-inclusive sport that empowers every individual who is associated with rugby. The rugby culture is shared internationally and if you go anywhere in the world, know that a rugger will treat you like family.

Types of Rugby

Rugby is played around the world in two main versions of the game: 7s and 15s. Olympic Rugby is played with seven players on a side for two 7-minute halves. The more traditional version of the game is 15s, where games are played with 15 players for two 40-minute halves. There are also both contact and non-contact versions of the game.

Continuous Game

Similar to the game of soccer, rugby is a continuous game where the ball is constantly moving and play will not stop unless a team has scored, the ball goes out of bounds, or a penalty is given. Unlike football, tackling in rugby is a great thing and play will continue after a tackle is made!


The game of rugby is played with lateral and/or backwards passing. At no time in the game is a forward pass allowed. If a forward pass is made, a scrum will be awarded to the opposing team.

Scoring Points

Scoring points in rugby can occur through the following four ways:

  • Score a Try (5 points): This occurs when a team touches the ball to the ground in the opposing team’s try zone.

  • Kick a Conversion (2 points): After a try is scored, the scoring team has a chance to kick through the uprights for 2 points.

  • Take a Penalty Kick (3 points): A team has the option for a penalty kick through the uprights after the opposing team has committed a penalty.

  • Drop Goals (3 points): Drop goals can occur during open play at any time and from anywhere on the field. The ball must be drop-kicked in order to count.

What are they doing?

Rugby is known for having funny-sounding names for things done on the field. Here are two common things you will see when play restarts:

Scrum: A scrum is awarded after a minor infringement of the rules such as a forward pass. In 15s, a scrum occurs with eight players from one team going head to head with eight players from the opposite team. A scrum is similar to a jump ball in basketball. Click here to see a breakdown of the rugby scrum.

Lineout: When the ball goes out of bounds, play is restarted with a lineout. This contest for the ball will involve players being lifted in the air in hopes of recovery. Click here to see a breakdown of the rugby lineout.