Ball on ground

Know and understand the 'ball on ground' situation when no tackle has taken place in rugby. Explains what players can and cannot do.

You may slip or fall

How you may be on the ground with the ball

If you are not "on your feet" you may be "on the ground".

Having just one knee on the ground or on a player on the ground is enough for you to be considered as being "on the ground"

This situation may come about in a number of ways.

It could happen if you`re carrying the ball, try to turn quickly, slip and fall to the ground.

It could happen if a would-be tackler flings you to the ground but fails to hold on to you so you are not "held" when you go to ground,

This means you have not been tackled. It also means the player who put you on the ground is not a tackler.

Also, under pressure, mistakes are made. Bending down to pick up the ball you may "knock on" or fumble the ball or even miss it completely.

If opponents are close, you may lose possession of the ball.

To overcome the problem, players are encouraged to "fall on the ball" - go to ground and envelope the ball and gain control of it.

On the ground with the ball, not tackled

In these situations, when a player with the ball is on the ground without having been tackled the player must immediately

  • get up while still holding the ball OR
  • pass or hand the ball to another player, preferably in your team! (and get up) OR
  • let go of the ball (release it) (and move away from it/get up)

Players not on the ground

If you are on your feet you must stay on your feet.

You must not fall on the player on the ground but if you are first to arrive you are allowed to attempt to take possession of the ball.

If they are trying to get up with the ball you may take it from them. You may also stop them passing or pick up the ball if they have released it.

If other players are already there it may be a ruck or a maul and it becomes more complicated. The match official will usually call out the word ("RUCK!" or "MAUL!"), so make sure you are listening!

Look for details of rucks and mauls so you know what to do.