GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF THE GAME
Rugby is played at a fast pace, with few stoppages and continuous possession changes. All players on the field, regardless of position, must be able to run, pass, kick and catch the ball. Likewise, All players must also be able to tackle and defend, making each position both offensive and defensive in nature. There is no blocking of the opponents like in football, and there are only five substitutions per game allowed for each team. A rugby match consists of two 40-minute halves. Finally, rugby is considered to be a gender equity sport as approximately 25% of all players in the United States are female.
MOVING THE BALL
There is no blocking in rugby. Rugby does not have downs, and a team is not required to reach 10 yards and stop. In rugby there are several ways to move the ball. Any player may carry, pass or kick the ball. Play is not stopped and continues when the ball hits the ground or when a player is tackled. The ball carrier must release the ball when tackled and roll out of the way so that other players on their feet can play the ball.
Passing: The ball may be passed to any other player. However, it may only be passed laterally or backward, never forward. Players pass the ball to an open teammate to keep it in play and further advance it.
Kicking: Any player may kick the ball forward at any time. Once the ball is kicked, players of either team, regardless of whether or not the ball hits the ground, may gain possession.
Try: Five points are awarded to a team for touching the ball down in the other team’s in-goal area. This is much like a touchdown in American football.
Conversion: Following a try, two points are awarded for a successful kick through the goal posts. This is like an extra point in American football.
Penalty Kick: Following a major law violation, the kicking team has the option to “kick for points.” Three points are awarded for a successful penalty.
Difference Between American Football and Rugby
American football: Each team has 11 players on the field at one time, with unlimited substitutions. Play begins with a kickoff. Two teams line up opposite each other; they are usually lining up a “play from scrimmage.” A player may run with ball or may pass it. Each team has to move the ball at least 10 yards within 4 downs. If they fail to do so, other team gets the chance. If they succeed they get 4 new tries to move the ball 10 yards further. The main object is to score points by advancing the pointed oval-shaped ball into the opponent’s team end-zone.
Rugby: A Rugby team consists of 15 players, divided into forwards and backs. Forwards are often larger and stronger players of the team having their main job to win the possession of the ball. The backs are usually smaller, faster, and more agile and exploit the ball possessions. The match begins with a kickoff and the teams compete for possession. The player of the receiving team may run with the ball, or kick it, or pass it to any other player laterally or behind him. Opponent player may tackle the ball carrier at any time. Other than tackles, scrummages, rucks, mauls, and lineouts, no other contact is allowed. Even dangerous tackles are not permitted and are penalized severely. Once tackled, the player must release the ball immediately so play may continue. Once a team has crossed the opposing team’s goal line, a try is scored (five points). After each try, the scoring team has the opportunity to score two more points with a conversion.
Forwards (Numbers 1-8)
The main role of the forwards is to gain and retain possession of the ball. They take part in set pieces of the scrum and the line-out. Generally, forwards are larger than the backs, which generally makes them stronger but slower. Forwards also have a role in taking the ball forwards, but generally do so by driving into the opposing forwards. Increasingly back row forwards such as flankers and the number 8 are becoming athletic and fast, staying out of the breakdown to participate in running moves with the backs.
Backs ( Numbers 9-15)
The role of the backs is to move the game forward by running or kicking the ball. The scrum-half will gain possession of the ball from the forwards and usually feed it to the fly half also known as the outside half (no.10) who then controls how the attacking team will proceed. The backline will tend to score its tries by focusing on the tactical placement of players, creating holes in the opposition defense line. A successful backline will cause the opposition defense to commit too many players at strategic points creating space to open up for the faster, outside backs (wingers and fullback).
Drop kick: A kick made when the player drops the ball and it bounces off the ground prior to being kicked. Worth three points if it travels through the goalposts. Drop kicks are also used to restart play after a score.
Forward pass: A violation that usually results in a scrum to the defending team.
Infringement: A violation of a law.
Knock on: The accidental hitting or dropping of the ball forward. The infringement is the same as that for a forward pass: a scrum to the other team.
Non-Contact Rugby: A Version of rugby designated to introduce the game to first time players (touch rugby). Two hand-tag replaces the tackle.
Penalties: the non-offending team is usually awarded a choice to kick the ball to gain field advantage. Some of the more important penalties are listed below:
Sin Bin: On occasion, the referee will send a player to the Sin Bin for serious and/or repeated infringements. The team is required to play short-handed until the referee permits the player to return.
Set piece: A term for scrums and lineouts because these are the only choreographed plays of the game.
Support players: Players who position themselves to increase the ball transfer options of the ball carrier.
Throw in: Throwing the ball down the middle of a lineout.
Touchline: The side boundary of the field (sideline).
Try line: The end boundary of the field (goal line).
22-Meter line: Is a line 22 meters (25 yards) from the try line. If a kick is made from behind the “22″, the opposing team gets a lineout where the ball went out of bounds. If the kick was made in front of the “22″, the resulting lineout is from the point of the kick if the ball goes directly out of bounds.