Rugby Ruck

Know and understand the rugby ruck in rugby games. What, where, when, why and how so you can be confident about what you can and cannot do.

About rucks

For a ruck to form...

When the ball is on the ground and players are close to it, a ruck may form. The match official will decide when a ruck has formed and call out "Ruck!"

You need to know because it affects what you can and cannot do.

For a ruck to form...

The following conditions must be met.

  • The ball must be on the ground
  • It must be in the area enclosed by the goal-lines and touch lines
  • Minimum of one player from each of the teams

  • Players must be in contact physically
  • Players must be near the ball
  • Players must be and attempt to remain on their feet

Ruck infographic Remember the ruck

Have fun - memorize this image, you'll remember all about the ruck.

When a ruck is taking place

  • Players must try to stay on their feet
  • Heads/shoulders of players must be at or above hip height
  • Players must avoid collapsing the ruck


  • Each team has an offside line, parallel to other lines across the pitch and just behind the player's foot furthest back in the ruck

  • To join the ruck you must arrive from behind the imaginary offside line and bind to the player who is furthest back in the ruck
  • All other players must be behind or go behind their offside line.

Within the ruck, the ball can be played only with your feet.

No hands allowed.

Reason for a ruck...

It`s to create an orderly struggle for possession when the ball has gone to ground.

Using the skill, strength and bulk of the more powereful players, rucking is one of the rugby techniques for gaining possession of the ball.

Even if the ball is within the control of the opposing team, with the right combination of skill, strength and bulk the opposition can be pushed backwards over the ball and made to lose possession.

This technique is covered in more detail in rugby rucking.

The end of the ruck

According to the Laws, a ruck ends successfully "when the ball leaves the ruck".

This is a GREY AREA in games. It would seem the ball has to pop out by itself.

The Laws state that handling the ball in the ruck is not permitted and yet a player at the back is usually allowed to reach behind the last feet, pick up the ball and remove it.

It's a good idea to ask the match official before the game starts how this Law will be interpreted!