All About Rugby

NATURE AND HISTORY


Rugby is an outdoor, full contact team sport played between two teams with an oval ball on a grassy field during a duration of two 40-minutes timed halves. Modern-day rugby Football developed way back in the 19th century in England from an earlier form of the game which permitted handling of the ball but not running with it. This was not the case in a Rugby School in Warwickshire where A player by the name of William Web Ellis repeatedly broke the rules and ran off with the ball and thus our present day Rugby Football came into being. Since then Rugby Rules have been modified significantly and Rugby split into its two codes; coined the 'Rugby League' and the 'Rugby Union'.

CONCEPT


Rugby is based on the ‘advantage’ concept. In the case of an infringement committed by a team by which the opposing team was to gain a territorial or position advantage over the other, the referee would not suspend play but would declare ‘advantage’ and play continues until the referee judges that sufficient advantage has been accumulated, after which he announces ‘advantage over’ and normal game play is to resume. If he sees that appropriate advantage has not been instilled he will reward a free kick, scrum or a penalty at the site of the original infraction to the non-offending team.

PLAYERS


In a game where hulking bulldozers of men play alongside and even against puny 5 footers (and vice versa), Rugby displays a unique blend of play. Depending on his / her precise role and position, a player’s size, speed, strength and tactics brings many advantages and disadvantages to a team and the match. However every player must be especially physically fit and stable owing to the sport’s overly rough and frequent physical contact accompanied by high-speed game play.

TEAMS AND POSITIONS


Rugby team is divided into two units each with very distinct roles, the eight forwards and the seven backs. The forwards generally possess more power strength and physical stature whilst the backs rank higher in speed, agility and creativity.


The Forwards


These constitute all players numbered 1 to 8 and they in essence are the centre of the game. These are the guys who primarily defend their territory and on the offensive gain hard-earned ground by storming up the field. Their role is to win scrums, rucks and mauls by acquiring the ball and neatly passing it off to the backs. It is between the opposing forwards that the roughest game takes place.


No. 1 or the Loosehead Prop:


He constitutes one of the two props and plays on the front row of a scrum where the two packs converge. It takes a special breed of player to be a prop as it is one of the most technically and physically demanding position on the field. His job is not only to support the hooker in a scrum but also to secure the ball after tackling another player and colliding into the opposition’s defense to make way for his own backs.


No. 2 or the Hooker:


He is the front row centre and takes the brunt of the scrum pressure but he is not liable to do the pushing in a scrum. Located between the two props his primary goal is to hook the ball back. Thus he is has to be quick, strong and active as he is required not only to make crash passes through the oppositions defense but to indulge in more than quite a bit of running.


No. 3 or the Tighthead Prop:


The role of the other prop on the team is the same as the first prop and like his loosehead colleague he is the one of the stockiest and strongest players of the pack. His is the toughest job of the forwards as naturally the force of a scrum is channeled through him.


No. 4 and 5 aka the Locks:


These tend to be towering players owing to the fact they are target men in a lineout and are obliged to be solid defenders and hard charging attackers. Their duty is to support the scrum and perform defense battering momentum.


No. 6 or the Blindside Flanker:


Flankers and the No. 8 constitute the loose forwards and are those players supporting the scrum at the sides who ready to break off at once to chase after the ball. When not in possession they adapt the role of defender. Flankers are roving links between the backs and the forwards and tend be rather agile. The blind side flanker aims to be as close to the ball as possible at all times. He plays on the closer side of the scrum from the touchline and defends play from the blind side channel. He also has a more physical role around the pitch and also is a target jumper at the lineout.


No. 7 the Openside Flanker:


This one tends to be the smaller of the flankers and guards the far side of the scrum away from the touch line, thus getting the more agile role in the game. Theirs is the open play and an openside flanker’s sole purposes are to collect the ball and perform their own bit of short passing, tackling and sprinting.


The No. 8 the Eightman:


Aptly named the eightman (or woman) this player is the eighth person to fit into a scrum. Standing at the very back of the scrum his goal is to collect the ball and sprint up the field with it or pass it to his scrum half to cause confusion. Usually the eightman doesn’t need to be huge player but must have great stamina, creativity and power.

The Backs


In contrast to the forwards, the backs’ primary objective is to orchestrate the attack and the move the ball forwards. They consist of the masterminds of the game and control its flow and hence are foremost responsible for any of the balls won by the forwards.


No. 9 or Scrum Half:


A key position on the field he is responsible for building attacks and defending against marauding flankers. He is in charge of feeding the ball into a scrum, ruck or a maul and is subjected to the brunt of the opposition’s physical contact as he plays close to the opposing forwards while consecutively he has to be accurate and sharp. He is regarded as one of the games main tacticians.


No. 10 or Fly Half:


He and the Scrum half form the crucial link between the backs and the forwards. He is the epicenter of the attack, a key decision maker and is the person who gets the most points scored to his name as the ball frequently goes through his hands. He is the team’s principal kicker and does so to relieve pressure from his half. He ought to be a skillful kicker and tackler for he is the chief target to opposing open-side flankers.


No.11 or Left Wing:


Alone in the far left side of the field, this guy’s job is to grab a passed ball and simply run up the field to attempt scoring a try. Also in defense he is a last option for defense and thus should be a prime runner with decent pace and tackling skills.


No.12 or Inside Center:


He is a dynamic runner, with a good passing skills and creative thinking essential scattering opposing defenses. Moreover he has a pivotal role of as being a second fly half with equal skill in kicking and passing.


No. 13 or Outside Center:


Backing up the winger he is a sound ball carrier, great attacker and scorer.


No.14 or Right Wing:


He just waits up for a pass and frequently tries to score points by landing a try.


No. 15 or the Fullback:


He is the furthest man on the pitch and is a major defender. In addition to power and superb tackling skills he must be wily, mobile, sharp and an exceptional kicker.

FIELD


The Rugby pitch or field is a rectangular grassy expanse consisting of a field-of-play not exceeding 100m in length and 70m in width and is further divided from 10m away from the centre by the 10m line followed by another 22m line and finally by a try line that runs beneath the “H” shaped goalposts on both sides. The touch lines and dead ball lines indicate the out of play area beyond which a ball if landed is regarded dead and play has to be restarted.

RULES


To the inexperienced eye a game of Rugby would seem like a mass riot in uniform but it is in fact a carefully governed sport with quite a number of rules covering this riotous game play. A referee officiates all the rules and penalties during the game.


Duration


A rugby match is played over two hours in two 40 minute halves with a single 10 minute break in between.


Scoring


There are five ways for scoring:


  1. A try is scoring but grounding the ball in the opponent’s in-goal area by a player in control of the ball and using his hands thumping it to the ground. Likewise if the ball is already in the opponent’s in-goal area, all the player has to do is press down on it on any part of his body between his neck and waist. A try is worth 5 points.

  2. Penalty tries are awarded when a player is illegally prevented from scoring a likely try.

  3. Conversion is when after a try the scoring team attempts to kick the ball through the goal posts from in front of them or from where the ball was grounded. Scoring earns them 2 points.

  4. A penalty goal is rewarded to a team when its opposing one commits an infraction. The ball is then placed stationary on the ground and kicked towards the goalpost aiming for the area above the crossbar earning the team 3 points. If the ball is too far out to score the non offending team may opt for: a kick to touch in which they get to throw in the consequent lineout, a scrum in which they get to feed the ball or take a tap penalty and run the ball.

  5. A Drop goal is ball that is kicked after touching the ground into the opposition’s goalposts and above the crossbar scoring 3 points.


To restart the game after scoring the opposing team kicks off the ball to the scoring team.


The running game involves picking the ball and running forward with it passing is only allowed sideways and backwards whereas tackling is allowed only if an opposing team is holding the ball and the purpose of the tackle is to gain possession of the ball and nothing else.


Tackling involves dropping a player to the ground and pinning him there only then is the tackle complete. Once tackled then the other player must immediately release the ball. Players from individual teams must approach and commence a tackled ball form the directions of their respective goal-lines. Tackling can be performed anywhere on the middle body by wrapping arms around the player and using hands to trip them. The head and neck are out of bounds.


Fouls constitute deliberate breaching of Laws and defying of the code of conduct including injury(some injuries are accidental and not an infraction), dangerous play, illegal prevention of scoring, impeding progress of a player without the ball, and using linguistic or physical means of abuse.

GAME PLAY


A match is started by traditionally tossing a coin to determine as to which side should execute the kick-off start. Captains choose which side they will run. The kick-off will be conducted from the centre of the pitch. The ball possessing team is to stand behind their kicking member and only proceed forward when his foot comes into contact with the ball. The ball has to travel beyond the 10 meter line. The aim of each team is to score more points than the other team. If a ball gets “dead” play restarts by a lineout.

EQUIPMENT


Equipment comprising of uniform and protective clothing is essential in the rough-and-tumble nature of rugby.


  • A shirt or jersey

  • Boots with studs

  • Shorts and/or jockstrap

  • Gum shield

  • Helmet

  • Head protection

RUGBY LINGO


Rugby employs some basic and rather unique terms, the definitions of which are listed below:


  • Blindside: It is the short side of the field.

  • Break Down: It is the term used to define a ruck or a maul.

  • Cap: When a player plays in an official match he/she is listed as having a cap for the team he/she plays for in that match. This is most commonly practiced with international teams.

  • Garry Owen: A high kick that is usually done to confuse the receiver yet short enough for the kicker to receive it again.

  • Gate: The imaginary place at the back of a ruck or maul.

  • Grubber: A kick that causes the ball to bounce and roll along the ground tomb recollected.

  • Knock On: Losing, dropping, or knocking the ball forward from a player's hand that is penalized by a scrum with the other team in possession.

  • Mark: A point on the pitch which a referee calls out for a scrum to take place.

  • Maul: A maul occurs when the player in possession of the ball is being tackled but not held down resulting in players from both sides to enter the tackle from their individual.

  • Offsides: During rucks, scrums, lineouts, and mauls an imaginary border is present over which any player crossing before the set piece is completed commits a penalty.

  • Openside: It is the big side of the field.

  • Place Kick: A kick of the ball resting on the ground.

  • Restart: A kick restarting play after a half or after points are scored.

  • Ruck: Typically after a runner has been tackled and released the ball players will both rush to the ball to try to gain possession of it. A ruck is formed when any combination of three players from both teams bind together over the ball to try and push over and gain possession.

  • Scrum: A scrum occurs when the ball is put back into play after an infraction and each team's forwards lock together head on, trying to position the scrum so that each team's hooker can "hook" the ball back to the number 8 and gain possession for their team.

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Feedback! 4 comments

M A Williams profile image

M A Williams 6 years ago from New Hampshire

Very thorough hub on the great sport of Rugby Union. Nice work!


Bettor profile image

Bettor 6 years ago from Ottawa, Canada Author

Thanks MA! So do you prefer the Rugby League or the Rugby Union?


M A Williams profile image

M A Williams 6 years ago from New Hampshire

Hi Bettor. I've done a couple of blog posts on the subject of rugby union vs rugby league (http://rugbyfix.com/category/rugby-union-versus-ru...

I really like them both, but definitely prefer union. There are just a lot more facets to it. Rugby League makes for the better highlights reel though.


bonifance 5 years ago

it looks nice u have a

good spirit

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