How to play rugby

Know and understand how to play rugby and feel at home in a rugby game. Basics in a nutshell and advanced topics to help you be your best.

The more you are flexible when you move and think, the quicker you will find it easy to play.

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Basic play

Advanced play



Backing up

Set pieces

Better play


Good style




Basic rugby play

Aim of the game

You play on a rugby fieldand you aim to beat the opposition by scoring more points. You do this mainly by scoring tries. You are awarded 5 points for each one.

You get a try by grounding the ball in the opposition's ingoal area. Roughly speaking the "in goal" is the area marked out at each end behind the goal posts.

You can also get points by kicking at the goals. It involves kicking the ball both between the uprights and over the cross bar in a number of clearly defined situations.

Score as many tries as possible. The nearer the posts the better. Any player may score a try... you feel terrific when you do it!

The game begins

The ball is kicked to start the game. It's called the kick-off.

To make things difficult the odd shaped ball must be bounced before you kick it. It`s called a drop kick

The ball must stay in play (not go over the touch lines) and must travel a minimum of 10 metres. A line on the pitch shows this distance.

During general play the team with possession of the ball are allowed to carry, pass or kick the ball.

Moving the ball around the field during play

Any player may carry the ball.

You may carry it pretty much any way you want. You don`t bounce the ball and you mustn`t stuff it up your jumper - or down your shorts!

You may carry the ball in two hands. I call it a two hand carry.

Or carry it in one hand or arm. I prefer what I call the one arm carry.

There is no restriction on the number of steps you can take.

There are no limits either, in terms of the time or distance you carry. You may carry it in any direction.

Players in the other team are allowed to tackle, hold, push or grasp the ball carrier but must not tackle or obstruct any other player.

None of your team are allowed to obstruct opposition players, including when they are attempting to to tackle your ball carrier.

When you`ve got the ball run straight as you can towards their in-goal - but it`s good if you are elusive!

Playing the ball with your hands and arms

Throwing, passing or giving the ball.

Any player may pass, throw or give it to any another player. It`s called passing.

Usually you will try to make sure it goes to one of your team mates who is in a better position to do something positive with the ball.

Remember, your team wants to get the ball onto the opposition's goal-line or into their ingoal area.

The only restriction is that the ball must go across field or backwards. Never pass forwards. If your hands are judged to have directed the ball forward it is a "forward pass" and play may be stopped.

Sometimes you may direct the ball backwards but because of your momentum the ball travels forwards. This is not a forward pass and play will continue.

Remember team-mates, pass to them if they are better placed.

Playing the ball with your feet and legs

Any player may kick the ball any distance in any direction.

In general terms, when it`s on the ground you may dribble it, kick it or hook it backwards with your foot. You must do it safely

If you are holding the ball you may place or drop it onto your foot and kick it. Any safe way is allowed. Forwards, upwards, along the ground, over your shoulder are all fine.

You usually kick for tactical reasons.

Generally speaking team-mates should be behind the kicker when the ball is kicked or they will be "off-side" and may give away a penalty.

There are different ways of kicking, suitable for different situations.

You will generally kick forwards. You want the ball to be as close to their posts as possible and as far away from your posts as possible (so you are more likely to be next to score points).

You kick to gain ground or to avoid being tackled. Once you have kicked you are no longer the ball carrier and must not be tackled.

Kicking usually gives away possession of the ball to the opposition.

You would only kick to avoid being tackled if you are isolated from supporting team mates and likely to lose possession deep in your own territory.

If the ball stays within the playing area anyone who is "onside" may pick it up and continue playing. If the ball goes over the touchline ("goes into touch"), play is restarted with a lineout.

Any player may attempt to score points by kicking a dropped-goal (field goal) during general play. This is done fairly infrequently.

Kick rarely!

Other general play and stoppages

Play is continuous unless the rules are broken or the ball goes out of the field of play.

From time to time knots of players form spontaneously and become involved in contests for possession of the ball.

When the ball is touching the ground it`s called a ruck and players must bind together and attempt to gain possession by pushing and stepping over the ball (rucking).

If the ball is off the ground it`s called a maul. Players must be bound together. They push and grapple , attempting to gain control of the ball (mauling) . A maul must keep moving or play will be stopped.

Even when the rules are brken play might continue if that is an advantage for the opposing team. If there is no advantage a penalty kick is awarded for a serious offence or a scrum is set up for a minor offence.

A scrum is when the 8 forwards from each team pack down, head to head in one mass. The ball is put into the centre of the mass and the players attempt to win control with their feet and legs. No handling in the scrum!

Play also stops when the ball goes out of play over the touch-lines. It is restarted with a lineout where the ball is thrown in between the two lines of opposing players who leap to catch it.

Enjoy yourself.

Find out where you will fit in

You need to know where you fit in.

Rugby is a good game for people of all shapes, sizes, qualities and skills. Look at these details about rugby teams players to see where you fit in.

You may find it useful to find the individual skills and qualities needed for each of the rugby positions you may play.

How to play rugby is very much about individual skills.

There are basic skills you need for every position.

Find out more get a quick feeling for the skills.

Whizz through the skills pages now or make a note to do it soon, so they will be in the back of your mind working away at what you need and how you become good at

holding the ball

and holding onto the ball, you carry it well as you move around the field. Prepare for catching and passing. Find handling in core skills.

catching the ball

and keeping hold of it. The ball will be coming to you at different heights, angles, speeds. It will be spinning, rolling, bouncing, falling - so be confident, be sure you have tip-top catching skills.

passing the ball

in all sorts of ways for all sorts of reasons. Make sure you have good passing skills so you make passes your team-mates catch, whatever the situation.

kicking the ball

when you start the game, score points, gain ground, find touch, cause trouble, break defences, score a try. Be spot on with your kicking.

getting away from tacklers,

bamboozling and breaking defences. You stand out, create havoc. You want to run rings round the opposition. You cannot do that by running in straight lines! You do it when you are able to sidestep.

Again, individual skills are the most important part of playing rugby.

You can learn "rugby moves" or "rugby plays" in next to no time - but what`s the point if you can`t catch the ball every time, or make the catchable pass?

You must put in the time and repetitions to make your skills second nature. Create an enjoyable way to do it.

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Advanced play


When your team has the ball and you know how to play, you want to score tries.

Know as much as possible about how you control the ball.

When you have the ball, treasure it.

Controling the ball means you can use your skill and knowledge to to choose when and how you start an attack.

When you are attacking it`s important you know how to avoid tackles. If you do, you just may create "something from nothing"

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When they have the ball they can score. You must stop them!

Find out how you produce solid defence, avoid weak points and deal with difficult situations.

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Backing up

You will enjoy yourself when you look into when and how you provide quality support.

Support play is about what you do when you don't have the ball and how you can help your ball carrier.

When you provide excellent support you stay alert, you are a key player in the game.

You make it much more likely you will make good decisions when you carry the ball forward.

Learn about support play so you know what you can and cannot do when play breaks down, for example when a tackle has taken place.

When the flow of the game breaks down and you are allowed to enter contests for the ball you need to know what to do. One example is when rucks form.

Make sure you know how you get involved, what to do with the ball and why when it's on the ground and you`re struggling to get control of it - the rucking situation.

At other times it's off the ground and in the middle of a heaving mass of players - the maul.

Here`s what goes on when you're mauling.

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Set pieces

Another major aspect of playing rugby is the set piece. Lineouts and scrums are set pieces, used to restart play.

At the lineout set piece

When the ball "goes into touch" play stops.

Forwards from the two teams compete in a mini contest for the ball involving communication between players, timing, power for the jumping players, strength for lifting players and a great co-ordinated effort.

Find out where and how the lineout takes place.

At the scrum set piece

When rules are broken in a minor way and no penalty is awarded, play is restarted with different kind of mini contest. This involves technique, weight, strength, cordination and cooperation.

Get more information about the scrum.

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Better play

You may say to yourself "I want to be good at rugby" or "I want to play better" or "I want to be the best rugby player I can be".

How do you do it?

Absorb every page of this website for a start...

...and I`m not really kidding, either!

You will soak up valuable stuff here, stuff you will find nowhere else. Make sure you come back here (press CTL/d to bookmark pages).

But use the rest of the internet of course! Use a variety of sites and dig out the information you need.

Use the information well. Apply yourself well and you will improve.


But is it? Yes and no. Just like anything else, it`s always worth knowing a bit more about how you do it.

So here are tips on how to be the best rugby player you can be.

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Timing and mind games

When you really know about playing, you know it`s very important being in the right place at the right time.

You feel great when you arrive at just the right time and just the right place to catch a pass, make a pass, make a tackle or make a break through the opposition line.

You will improve rapidly when you have good timing.

Minds can play tricks when you are under stress, especially on the rugby field.

You`ll find out how to affect other players, how to get them worried, make them hang off tackles or rush in too soon when you understand perception is an important part of how you play.

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Gather playing experience

Spend time training and playing games of rugby and you gather experience. Over the years you build up valuable knowledge about all sorts of things related to rugby and life in general.

You can speed up the process, perhaps avoid some pain and enjoy your rugby more when you learn from other peoples` experience.

You may find you do that here when you absorb the information on this website. Much of it you will not find elsewhere.

Measure progress

Set goals, measure your performance and you are more likely to achieve what you set out to achieve. In rugby, of course, you set out to win the game.

One way to set goals and keep track of performance is to be aware of and use the gain line (also called the "advantage line").

Getting around in a game

Yes, you are running, but when you do it in a game of rugby it`s different.

It`s good to be fast but there`s more to it than that.

Find out more about running posture, change of pace, running lines. How you keep opponents guessing and much more in rugby running.

Keep one step ahead

If you were a mind reader or a clairvoyant it would be very useful in rugby. You would have a good idea what was going to happen next.

You`d be one step ahead of the opposition.

You can do the same when you`re good at reading the signs.

Be sure you have "vision"

Some player positions need it more than others. All players need it.

What is it, how do you get it and why it`s important. Make the most of practice time so you have the very best vision.

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A good style of rugby

There is a fantastic style of rugby where the ball is kept moving from player to player for long periods of play.

The ball is not allowed to die.

It requires great skill, superb fitness and great commitment by all players in the team.

Aim high. Aim for what is known as running rugby.

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Additional information

When you are starting out in something new it`s useful to gather information from a number of different sources.

To help you find out more I`ve included a few tips on how to find out more about rugby and have given details of some places to look.

How to gather information about rugby is where you'll find the tips.

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Tips on what to avoid

There are a couple of things worth avoiding in rugby.

Do your utmost to avoid foul play. Know the rules and stick to them.

It`s also very handy when you can avoid tacklers.

Tackles are a major part of rugby.

When you are able to avoid them you have a fantastic advantage.

Just so you know what you can do with sidesteps, watch this short video. It`s a vital part of play.

Have a chuckle as you become aware of how you use a sidestep and find you can avoid tackles. <<<-- CLICK HERE!!

Then find the best way is to do it with EvtecHs.

It`s something else and nowhere else!

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Summary of how you play rugby

Continually focus on controlling the ball and scoring points.

Play is continous unless the ball goes out of play or a player breaks the rules.

Even then play might continue if the other team gets an advantage.

Focus on fitness and good individual skills including sidestepping

Your skills will become instinctive and you will be able to deal with any situation - with superb skills, without even thinking about it!

Do it alone if necessary or with a few friends. Hone your skills! Do this and you`ll always find a game.

Remember, be a good sport - without the opposition there wouldn't be a game!

Above all, enjoy yourself!

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