What is Rugby?

Rugby 101

Rugby as a sport is said to originate in 1823. The idea for the sport began after a school boy at Rugby School in Warwickshire, England picked the ball up in a game of soccer and ran with it to score a goal. There is little evidence to support this origin story but the legend of it persists to this day.

Rugby is similar in terms to American football. At Rugby’s core it involves running the ball to an end of the field with uprights to score points. The ball can also be kicked by the scoring team through the uprights for more points. Players are tackled in order to gain control of the ball and the ball itself is an oblong elliptical shape.

That however is where most of the similarities end. Rugby players only tackle low, wear lighter protection than football, and can only pass the ball backwards to other teammates. Play is also for the most part continuous with stoppages occuring when fouls are made, the ball is knocked out of bounds, a score occurs, or posession of the ball comes in to question. Players can then form scrums, lineouts, or perform pentalty kicks to reset play.


Rugby Positions

Typical Rugby games come in two forms: 15’s and 7’s with the numbers corresponding with the number of players on each team. The most standard, and classic form for most clubs would be Rugby 15’s. 7’s tend to be a summer seasonal style and the style used in the Olympics. In Rugby 15’s players are split in to two groups, Forwards and Backs. The number on a player’s jersey corresponds to their position on the field, in scrums, and individual responsibilities. Forwards are numbered 1-9 with each number being indicative of their position in a Scrum. A forward is typically responsible for making and taking tackles, rucking over tackled teammates, and fighting for posession of the ball via scrums and lineouts. Backs are 10-15. Where a Forward’s responsibility often lies in short term ball posession and defense, a Back’s responsibility lies in running the ball long distances to score, making skilled passing lines, and reading the flow of play to make tactical scoring decisions and positioning.

Basic Rugby Terms

Rugby has many unique terms. We have a few of the more frequent and basic ones you will hear on and off the field below. Should you come across more unfamiliar terms please ask your teammates to explain! We are always willing to teach. Other options would be to look up in-depth Rugby dictionaries that can be found online or in Rugby printed guidebooks. We also encourage new players to look up Rugby Rulebook guidance to become more familiar with terminology and how the game is played.


Occur when a ball has been knocked out of bounds. Both teams send in forwards to line up at the 5m mark from the field. The team that is given advantage is allowed to throw the ball in through the tunnel between the two lined up teams. Either team may lift players in the air in an attempt to catch and gain posession of the ball and execute different plays.

Rectangle (5)
Rectangle (6)


Typically formed over a player that has been tackled. Two members of opposing teams must be involved for a ruck to be called. The tackled player must release the ball, making it a chance for the opposing team to take posession. 2-3 players of the tackled player’s team will stand over the tackled player or push against the members of the opposing team attempting to take posession. This protects the tackled teammate and helps keep posession from being lost.


Often formed when a knock on infringement has been made or a line-out pass fails. Forwards 1-8 on both teams form a large pack and push against each other in order to drive over the ball and gain posession after number 9 on the team with advantage feeds the ball in to the pack. The team’s hooker (No. 2) is then charged with hooking the ball to the back of the scrum with their foot as the rest of the pack pushes against the opposing team to gain or maintain territory untile No. 9 can regain posession of the ball and pass it back to the waiting backline.



When a ball carrier is held up (without being tackled) by both an opposing player and a player from his own team, a maul is then considered formed.


Tries are scores. Think of it like goals in soccer or touchdowns in football. A try is scored when a player has placed the ball on the field within a try zone.


Still Confused? Come to Practice!

The best way to learn Rugby is to play Rugby! For questions about practice and joining the team please look at our Player Info section! And if you are looking to study up some more, below are a few helpful video guides!