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A Layman's Guide to the Standard Positions and Rules of Rugby

Under the Rugby Union and Rugby League, the rules of the game differ slightly. This article will tell you more...
Medha Godbole
Last Updated: Oct 06, 2017
Rugby, or rugby football, as it is called, is an aggressive game descending from a common form of football, which was developed in the United Kingdom. In the UK, they call rugby a 'thug's game', because of the nature of the game which involves a lot of power play. With those intimidatingly strong rugby players, it is bound to seem that way. In the USA, it is very close to American football.
The Game: A rugby union game is referred to a match, and its duration is 80 minutes. It is divided into 2 sessions of 40 minutes each. Now, some time can be added on account of timeouts and injuries during the game. A single referee controls the play on the field, in addition to a couple of assistant referees. Professional matches have a video referee as well.
Scoring: A try or a goal, either of these can score for a team. A try happens when a player takes the ball across the goal line and then grounds the ball. Then, a proper goal is scored when a player kicks the ball between the uprights and above the crossbar of the goal posts.
Playing Area: The length of the pitch is supposed to be 100 meters or less between the two goal posts. Further, an in-goal area behind each post is a must, with the length of the in-goal area ranging between 10 and 22 meters. The H-shaped goal posts are stationed on the goal line. The pitch must be 70 meters wide. The 2 uprights have a distance of 5.6 meters between them, and the crossbar lining them is just 3 meters above the ground.
Game Play: One team with the possession tries to move the ball up-field and score a goal. In such a situation, the other team has to defend, or attack the opponents or take control of the ball. In rugby, which player stands where on the field matters a lot for the team's victory or defeat.
Ball Travel: The team having the ball advances it by kicking or passing the ball forward. But, in rugby union games, the ball cannot be passed forward.
Tackling: Tackling is the act of blocking and defending the offense by the team not in possession of the ball. A tackle consists of holding on to an opponent and bringing him to the ground. The rulebook says that a tackled player should release the ball, and if he does not do that, it is held as a foul.
Offside: To take a proper and active part in the game, a player must be behind the ball. A player who comes in such a position where he is between the ball carrier and the goal, is considered to be 'offside', and then might cease to play.
Line Out: If a ball gets into 'touch' it is got back into play. Here, many times, what is done is a line out. A line out refers to the lining up of teams with equal number of players, one meter apart. They then vie for the ball thrown towards them.
Restarts: If a game is obstructed on account of any reason, mostly the breaking of rules, it starts again with either a scum, a free kick, or a penalty kick. The free kick and penalty kick is totally upon the field referee to decide.
Goal Kick: A team which is attacking can score a goal by kicking the ball between the 2 goal posts above the cross bar. Now, in the course of the game, if a team wants to score a goal, the ball is hit from the ground. During a penalty kick, the ball is kept on a pile of sand.
Score a Try: A 'try' is what is cherished by the attackers of a team; fullbacks and the likes, on a rugby field. It is an act by an attacking player of a team to ground the ball in the goal area behind the goal line. This is worth 5 points.
Conversion: Once a team sores a try, that team is given a chance to have a go at the goal in the form of a free kick. This is termed as conversion in golfing jargon. It is taken from the spot exactly where the ball touched the ground for a try.
Though the game seems to be nearly the same, player positions in rugby are very different from American football.