The match officials:
A game is controlled by a referee and two touch-judges, who interpret the laws of the game fairly. The referee is the most senior, and also takes note of the time and score. He is the sole arbitrator, whose decisions are final.
The match begins:
Play commences with the toss of the coin between the two captains, with the winner being afforded the choice of kicking off, or choosing which end to defend in the first half.
The game lasts for eighty minutes, excluding stoppages, and therefore each match consists of two halves of forty, with an interval for half time.
In all matches, play commences with a kick-off. This is a place kick from the center of the halfway line. At the start of the second half the other team will kick off. If, from the kick-off the ball goes directly into touch, lands directly in the in-goal area, or directly over (or on) the dead ball line then the opposing team has the choice of either 1)accepting the kick 2)asking for it to be re-taken, or 3)asking for a scrum at the center spot.
At the kick-off, the kicker’s team must be behind the ball at the time of the kick. If not, the referee can order a scrummage (scrum) at the center.
Points on the board:
There are four ways of scoring points
- Try worth 5 points
- Conversion worth 2 points
- Penalty worth 3 points
- Drop goal worth 3 points
- Penalty Try worth 5 points
A try is scored by grounding the ball in the opposition goal area. The ball can be placed on the try line (in line with the posts) or beyond, but no further than the dead ball line. For the ball to be grounded, the player must be holding it in his hand(s) or arm(s) when he brings it into contact with the ground. The ball can also be deemed to be grounded if a player falls on the ball, but the front of the body, from the waist to the neck must make contact with the ball. Every try is further rewarded with a kick at goal, and can increase the score by another two points. This is called a conversion. The kick is taken from a point level with where the try occurred. It can be either a place kick or a drop kick, and all the players on the kicker’s team must be behind the ball at this time. Meanwhile, the defending team must stand behind their own goal-line. Once the kicker commences his run-up, the defenders can run forward in an attempt to put the kicker off, and perhaps even charge down his kick.
A penalty kick is awarded against the offending team following an infringement of the rules. The rules concerning a penalty are very much the same as those for a conversion, with the exception that the kick must be taken at or behind the point where the infringement took place. There is also the option for a scrum, in which case the team awarded the penalty have the put in.
The drop goal – A player can, at any time during open play, attempt this. The ball is dropped onto the ground and kicked just as it bounces, and must pass through the posts without bouncing. Moreover, re-starts occur via a drop-kick, as well as at half time.
When and why – halts in play:
Throw forward – the ball must always be passed sideways or backwards. If it is thrown forward, then the player committing the offense will be penalised. If the throw forward is intentional then a penalty is awarded from the point where the infringement took place. If it was unintentional, then a scrum shall be formed at the place of the infringement.
Knock-on – the ball must always be gathered cleanly. If a player loses possession of the ball, and it travels forward towards the opposing goaline, or it strikes a player’s hand and travels forward, then it is a knock-on and is penalised in the same way as the throw forward, unless the player can recover the ball before it has touched the ground or another player.
The tackle – when tackled, the ball must be released immediately and get up or move away; you cannot touch the ball again or interfere in play until you are back on your feet. Failure to comply with this will incur a penalty for the other side.
Ruck/Maul – After the ball is released from a ruck, or maul, often forms around the ball. This is like an impromptu scrum with at least one player from either side closing around the ball, which is somewhere between them.
Scrum -When the ball becomes unplayable or stationary, a scrum shall be ordered and the ball inserted by the team who were not initially in possession.
The line – out – if the ball goes into touch during the normal course of play, play is re-started with a line-out, the equivalent of a throw-in in football. The line-out is a way of gaining possession of the ball and at least two players from each side line up in single lines and at right angles to the touch-line. The number of players in the line-out is determined by the team taking the throw, and the throw is taken by the team which did not put the ball in touch originally. Physical contact is not encouraged, and the players must stand so that a clear space of 1m separates the two lines. The line-out starts from a point 5m from the touch-line where the throw is being taken, and stretches to a point 15m away. Any player beyond 15m is not deemed to be in the line-out. The ball must be thrown straight between the two lines of players; you cannot try to gain an advantage by throwing towards the side of the line-out containing your own players. Once the ball has been thrown, the two sets of forwards jump and try to get possession of the ball.
Mark (fair catch) – a player can make a mark by catching the ball from a kick, knock-on or throw forward by one of his opponents, and shouting “mark”. Significantly, the player must be on his side of the 22 m line. After making a mark, the player has the option of a free-kick which can be either a place, drop or tap-kick. A goal cannot be scored direct from a free-kick.
Drop-out – the drop-out is a drop-kick taken by the defending team. The kick is taken from anywhere on or behind their own 22m line. If taken from behind the 22, the ball must reach that line from the drop-out . If it does not, the opposition can request it to be re-taken or choose a scrum – formed at the center of the 22.
The scrum – the object at the scrum is to gain possession of the ball and get it out to your own scrum half so that he can engineer an attacking move. Once the scrum is formed, the ball is put in by one of the scrum-halves, and the hooker attempts to hook the ball back to his team-mates, who in turn gradually hook it out to the scrum-half who will have taken up a position at the back of the scrum. The most effective way of gaining advantage is by pushing the opposing forwards backwards (a tug of war in reverse). When formed, the scrum shall occur at the place where the infringement took place (or as near as possible). The line of scrummage – the imaginary line between the two sets of front-row forwards – should always be parallel to the goal-lines. The scrum is used to re-start play after certain infringements and can only be formed on the field of play – it cannot be formed in the in-goal area or within 5m of the touch-line. If any infringement by the defending team takes place in their own in-goal area, and the penalty would be a scrum, then the scrum must be formed 5m from the goal-line on the field of play. A minimum of eight players are required from each team to form a scrum. Of those, three players MUST form the front row. The player putting the ball into the scrum must make sure the ball bounces on the line of scrummage beyond the feet of the nearest player. The ball MUST be put into the scrum in a straight line.
Positions and Descriptions
Front Row: Without a doubt the manliest men on the pitch. Large, often hairy, beer swilling carnivores that can and will smash anything in their path. Reveling in the violence inherent in the scrum, they are rarely considered “nice” people, and in fact to some they aren’t even considered humans at all. Front rowers tolerate this attitude far and wide because they recognize their role at the top of the food chain and are used to suffering the fools that surround them. Accused by some of simply being dumb, I prefer to think of this group as “open to unconventional ways of thinking.”
Locks: Slightly below the front row on the food chain. As with front row players it is inadvisable to put an appendage you wish to keep near this group`s maw when they are in the feeding mode. This group of large, often foul-smelling brutes is also more than willing to relish the finer points of stomping on a fallen opponent`s body and will gleefully recount the tale ad infinitum. While they tend to take the tag “Powerhouse of the Scrum” a little too seriously, they can be useful if inured with the proper hatred of their fellow man. While members of this proud fraternity like to think of themselves as “open to unconventional ways of thinking”- they are usually just dumb.
Back Row: These are fine, fit fellows who, like a bunch of hermaphrodites, are confused as to what their role in life should be. While they know they are undeniably linked to the forwards, there are those among them who long for the perfect hair and long flowing gowns that come with being a back. Some relish the forward role and will do anything to win the ball and there are others within this group that will break the prime directive of the forward and do anything to prance foolishly with the ball. Generally, these guys are not all bad, but I, personally, have to wonder about any forward who brings a hairbrush and a change of clothes to a game.
Scrum Half: Some like to think of this back as an honorary forward. Others tend to think of the No. 9 as half a fairy. While the toughest back almost always fills this position, this idea is almost laughable – kind of like the hottest fat chick. The scrum half`s presence is tolerated by the forwards because they know that he will spin the ball to the rest of the girls in the backline who will inevitably knock the ball on and allow them the pleasure of another scrum. The No. 9 can take pride in the fact that he is the lowest numbered back and that as such he can be considered almost worthwhile.
Fly Half: His primary role is the leader of the backs – a dubious honor at best. Main responsibilities as far as one can tell are ability to throw the ball over people`s heads and to provide something soft for opposing back rowers to land on. Expected to direct the prancing of the rest of the backline – the fly half, like any good Broadway choreographer, is usually light on his feet. While some may argue that these girls must be protected, it is hard to support anyone whose foot touches a rugby ball on purpose.
Centers: Usually come in two varieties: hard chargers or flitting fairies. The hard charger is the one to acquire, as he will announce his presence in a game with the authority rarely found above No. 8. The flitting fairy is regrettably more common and will usually attempt to avoid contact at all costs. The flitting fairy is also only one good smack away from bursting into tears and leaving the pitch to cry on the shoulder of his inevitable girlfriend. Both types will have extensive collections of hair care products in their kit bags and will be among the best dressed at the post-game festivities.
Back 3: While some people refer to this group as two wingers and a fullback, it is next to impossible to make out any difference between them. How these three guys can play 90 minutes of RUGBY and stay clean and sweat free is beyond me. It is known for a fact that their jerseys sometimes go back in the bag cleaner than when they came out. These ladies are fond of sayings like “Speed Kills” and “Wheels Win” – how cute. These guys will be easy to spot after the game because they are the finely coifed, sweater wearin’, wine sippin’, sweet-talkers in the corner avoiding the beer swilling curs at the bar. On the whole, the other player’s don`t mind this group because in the end, they sure are purty to look at.
More Rugby Positions:
A complete unbiased look at the different rugby positions:
The Pack: Eight handsome burly guys whom you`d want to marry your daughter. They are intelligent, elegant, sensitive and sweet. Truly the ideal men.
The Backs: Seven guys who will take advantage of your womenfolk, and all tubular household objects. Often dine on quiche, brie and wine. Regularly take blow dryers on road trips and wear bikini underpants.
Prop: Short but stout, these strapping men support the hooker, but no money ever changes hands and the act is never specifically named.
Hooker: Often identified by a balding spot atop the head, these vertically-challenged but talented men stand between the two props and secure the ball for their team during scrummages.
Second Row: These tall powerful men are the driving engines not only of the scrum, but of the entire game. They can be found working their magic from deep in the scrum, behind the front row, or lofting high above the line outs pulling balls from the air.
The Back Row: Usually the most handsome and intelligent, these three men of stamina and strength are often considered the Renaissance men of the rugby field. They not only control ball, but the entire pitch. Remember, the back row defines the whole team`s style of play. “They are the game.”
Scrum Half: The point guard of the rugby team, the scrumhalf distributes the ball, runs hits and kicks. The scrumhalf is only half as handsome and burly as the pack members.
Fly Half: The first of those back guys, and the first of the offensive chain. Often confused with an insect, may be referred to as the man with “the foot.”
Centers: Another pair of those back guys. Either power runner or annoying scampering guy usually found in the opposite order, but whose only purpose is to get the ball to the wing.
Wings: Ideally the fastest men on the team. Their job is to “score with the ball,” but they often confuse it with “get tackled with the ball.” Also an excellent snack when smothered in hot sauce and deep fried.
Fullback: The last line of defense. A back even the pack can appreciate, often viewed as a back row in the larval stage.
Idiot’s Guide To Rugby Terminology:
One refs don’t play enough. He allows play to continue after a foul if stopping would disadvantage the non-offending team.
Spectacular when they work, but in reality a last-ditch effort by an out-paced player to tackle an opponent by diving and slapping his ankle.
Play one badly and you`ll be in tears. In polite terms, it`s a kick where it really hurts.
Not your alter-ego after too many beers, but the playing area nearest the touchline and next to a scrum, maul or ruck. Domain of loose forwards and scrumhalf.
Move over Elephant Man. A deformity of the ear caused by repeated blows and rubbing of the head in a scrum, particularly in the second row. Also rugby parlance for selective hearing by your rugby mates.
A defender faced with a marauding charge by rampaging forwards manages to stop his knees from shaking long enough to boot the ball as far as he can into touch.
No, not a bad pass that`s wildly astray. Rather, it’s a feigned pass to deceive the opponent on defence.
Good pass for settling scores with a team-mate you don`t like. Ball lands into the hands of you mate in imminent proximity of a direct hit.
No act of affection. Unless you are Irish. Commonly known as a Head Butt.
Struggle among players for ball that has not touched the ground.
Contrary to other drug laden sports, another word for the ball
Like a maul, but ball is on the ground and heeled back into possession by players. Despite the rules, it`s not alway the ball that gets heeled back either.
Where the oxen of rugby love to be. A way of restarting play after an infringement. The eight forwards from each team pack down in tight formation and the ball is served into the tunnel and heeled back for possession.
Blink and you won’t see it. That’s the idea from the player of the team awarded the penalty who takes it. The kick is barely nudged forward before it`s caught and either passed, kicked, or moved on the run.
Up and Under
A punt kick by a player on the attacking side where the ball is sent high into the sky over their opponent`s head. This gives teammates time to, at least, scare the living daylights out of defenders as they charge down on the ball. Commonly called a Garryowen.