The Rugby Guide
The General Principles

Rugby has two major variations, rugby union and rugby league. League is a game which originated from union but is based on a much different set of principles.'s focus is on Rugby Union. Please contact your local club for additional information concerning our sport and to learn to play safely.

Presented below are the general principles of rugby union matches:

  • Forward passes are not allowed. Dropping the ball forward is also prohibited and is called a knock-on.
  • The ball can only be advanced by running or kicking the ball forward.
  • A tackled runner must immediately release the ball, the tackler must immediately release the tackled player.
  • Play is continuous, all stoppage of play must be immediately restarted (unless there is an injury).
  • A scrum restarts play after a forward pass or knock-on, a scrum can also be awarded in other situations.
  • A lineout re-starts play after the ball travels into touch (out of bounds).
  • No blocking, normally all supporting players must stay behind the ball carrier.
  • A Try is awarded when the ball is carried or kicked across the goal line and downward pressure applied to the ball. A try is worth 5 points
  • 2 points is awarded for a successful conversion kick after a try.
  • 3 points is awarded for a successful penalty or drop goal kick.
  • After points are scored, the ball is kicked back to the scoring team (except in sevens).
  • The game is governed by laws not rules, the referee is the sole enforcer of those laws.
  • The game clock is kept by the referee on the pitch and is stopped only for injury. The time spent attending to injuries is added to the end of each half and is called injury time.
  • Two additional judges are utilized on each touchline to signal when the ball has left the field of play, and to assist the referee in various capacities.

The full updated laws of rugby union can be found at the International Rugby Board website by clicking here. The IRB is the governing body for rugby union.


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