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Rugby, A Spectators Guide

It looks like a 30-person version of tackle-the-pig. They're going to kill each other out there! Are there any rules to this game?

To the uninitiated, a rugby game may well look like semi-organized mayhem. Bodies crash, the ball is kicked and passed in ways that seem mysterious or even illegal to football fans, and plays with unfamiliar names like 'ruck', 'maul', and 'scrum' continuously form and break up without rhyme or reason. There's no question that it looks rough out there on the field, yet the injury rate in rugby is about the same as in basketball. And there are plenty of rules - yet you need only know some basic ones to understand the fundamentals of the game (it's rumored amongst rugby players that not even the referees know all the rules). This guide tells you enough about rugby to help you sort our what's happening on the field. And who knows? After watching a couple of matches you may even be tempted to don a pair of cleats and join in.

RUGBY VS. FOOTBALL

One easy way to understand some of the basics of rugby is to be aware of three major differences between rugby and football:

  1. In rugby, the ball cannot be passed forward, -rather, the ball moves laterally from player to player. There is no quarterback in rugby that passes the ball downfield to a receiver - every player on the field is eligible to run with the ball and can pass laterally to any teammate, who then continues downfield.
  1. There is no blocking in rugby. No player can shield or protect the ball carrier, and only the player with the ball can be tackled.
  2. Play in rugby is continuous. The game does not stop when the ball hits the ground or the player with the ball is tackled. Instead, the player who is tackled must immediately let go of the ball, making it available to any player on either team.

THE TEAM

Each team consists of fifteen players: 8 forwards, 6 backs, and a halfback, or 'scrumhalf'. The forwards tend to be the larger, stronger players on the team - they must do much of the pushing, pulling, and scrambling required to win possession of the ball. The backs are the smaller, faster players - they run or kick the ball down field once possession is gained. The scrumhalf is the link between the forwards and the backs; once the forwards gain possession of the ball, it is the scrumhalf's job to pass the ball to the backs.

THE GAME

Rugby is played on a field 110 by 75 yards with 20 yard end zones. Goal posts are similar to those in football. The object of the game is to carry or kick the ball into the end zones and touch it down for a try (touchdown). The games consist of two 40-minute halves, with a 5minute halftime. There are no time-outs, other than for injuries. An injured player has one minute to either 'shake it off' and resume playing, or leave the field. Teams can replace a maximum of four injured players during a game.

SCORING

Try: Similar to a touchdown, except that the ball carrier must not only get the ball into the opponent's 'end zone', they must then touch the ball to the ground. (5 points)

Conversion: After a try, the scoring team can get 2 additional points by place-kicking or drop-kicking the ball through the opponent's uprights and above the crossbar.

Drop goal: At almost any time during the game, and from any point on the field, any player can attempt to drop-kick the ball through the opponent's uprights and above the crossbar. To drop-kick, the kicker drops the ball on the ground and kicks it on the first bounce. (3 points)

Penalty kick. After certain penalties, the team that did not incur the penalty can choose to try for a penalty goal. The kicker either drop-kicks or place kicks from the point where the penalty occurred. Again, the ball must pass between the uprights and over the crossbar of the opponent's goal. (3 points)

MAKING PROGRESS

There are two ways of getting the ball downfield and across the opponent's 'try line' (the rugby equivalent of the goal line). Any player, usually one of the backs, can pass laterally to a teammate who is moving up the field. Ideally, a player will run upfield with the ball until they are about to be tackled, and at the last moment will pass to a teammate who is 'in support', or running close by ready to receive a pass. Support is one of the key factors in the game, for a team that supports well has a greater chance of maintaining possession of the ball.

The second way of making progress up the field is to kick the ball forward. The goal of kicking is to move the ball toward the opponent's try line and recover the ball with a better field position; the drawback is that you risk losing the ball to the other team.

AFTER THE TACKLE: RUCKS MAULS

Now, you may be thinking, "Running with the ball and kicking it downfield seems fairly straightforward, but what's all that rigmarole that goes on after the player gets tackled?"

Once the ball carrier is tackled and on the ground, they must immediately release the ball and make an effort to get away from it. The ball then becomes fair game for either team, just as it is in football when someone fumbles. But rather than scramble madly after the loose ball, the players must try to win possession by pushing the other team away from the all.

The mass of shoving bodies that forms around the ball is known as a 'ruck' - during a ruck, players cannot reach down and pick the ball up off the ground. Like horses pawing at the turf, the players must use their feet to move the ball back to their own scrumhalf.

Sometimes the ball carrier manages to stay on their feet after being stopped by an opponent. In this case, both teams again try to gain possession of the ball. The ball carrier's teammates will try to protect the ball and get it to their own scrumhalf, while the opposing team tries to wrestle the ball away from the ball carrier. The formation which results is known as a 'maul' - it differs from a ruck in that the ball is up off the ground, and players can use their hands in trying to win possession of the ball.

RESTARTING PLAY: SCRUMS LINEOUTS

Occasionally a player will break one of the myriad of rules that govern the game: they may accidentally pass the ball forward, or forget to release the ball when tackled, or get caught with their hands in the ruck. In these cases play is re-started with a scrum, which is formed by the forwards from each team. Each set of forwards binds together into the scrum formation. When the opposing scrums 'come together', i.e. squat down and lock shoulders, the whole formation resembles a 32-legged spider maneuvering for position. The scrumhalf from the team that did not incur the penalty then puts the ball into the middle of the 'tunnel' formed between the opposing front rows.While the opposing scrums shove against each other, the hooker from each team tries to hook the ball back with their foot through the legs of their own scrum, and the scrumhalf from the team that wins the ball then picks it up and passes it to the backs.

It a player from one team kicks or carries the ball out-of-bounds ('into touch' in rugby parlance), the other team then gets to throw the ball into a 'lineout'. The forwards from each team line up parallel to each other, five meters from the touch line. One player stands on the touch line and lofts the ball between the two lines of players, and the forwards from both teams leap up to grab the ball. The player tossing the ball in is not throwing it at random; before the ball is put into play, one player from the team that is throwing in the ball calls out a code - a series of numbers or words - that lets the receiving team know what player in the lineout should receive the ball.

COMMON MISTAKES

  • Knock-on: hitting the ball forward accidentally with the hands.
  • Forward pass: passing the ball forward rather than laterally.
  • Offsides: being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In general, the offsides law dictates that when the forwards are struggling to gain possession of the ball - for instance, in a ruck or a maul - the backs cannot move in front of the ball. The offsides law also makes it illegal to kick the ball to a teammate that is downfield from the kicker.
  • High tackle: tackling the ball carrier above the collar - it's illegal to tackle up around the ears.
  • Playing the person: tackling or interfering with someone who is not carrying the ball.
  • Shepherding: interfering with an opponent who is trying to tackle the ball carrier.
  • Failure to release: not letting go of the ball when tackled.
  • Not in straight: during either the scrum or the line-out, the player putting the ball into play must not give their team an advantage by tossing it toward their own side. The player must toss the ball directly down the center of the lineout, or down the middle of the tunnel formed at the scrum.

Some of the above penalties are settled by a scrum - the team that did not incur the penalty gets to put the ball into play. for the more serious infractions including offsides and high tackling, the team that incurs the penalty must drop back 10 yards from the ball - the team with the ball can either run with it, kick it downfield, or try for a 3 point penalty goal.

HOW THE GAME IS PLAYED

THE PLAYERS

There are fifteen players on each team consisting of eight forwards and seven backs. The forwards are involved in the line-outs and scrums and have the task of winning possession of the ball for the backs. The backs play more to the open field and attempt to out-maneuver their opponents by passing, kicking, or running with the ball. Only 2 injury substitutions are permitted. The players are also forbidden to wear any protective equipment save soft padding to protect an existing injury.

THE OBJECT

Rugby is played on a field 110 by 75 yards with 20-yard end zones. Goal posts are similar to those in football. The object of the game is to carry or kick the ball into the end zones and touch it down for a try (touchdown) Games are played with two 40 minute halves with a five minute break in between.

THE GAME

Play begins with a kick-off; a player with the ball may run with it or kick it or pass it to any other player either laterally or behind him. His opponents may tackle the man carrying the ball at any time. Except for tackles, scrums, rucks and line outs, no other contact is allowed. Tackles must be made using an arm and shoulder. High tackles are not permitted.

THE SCRUM

A set scrum occurs when a team is guilty of a minor infraction, such as a player propelling (knocking) the ball forward with his hands, or when play is stalled because the ball is being smothered in a ruck or maul. At that point the referee will ask for a scrum and both packs of forwards will bind together in an enormous huddle that causes the novice spectator to question the players' sanity. The scrum half is responsible for putting the ball in between the two packs and they in turn try to heel the ball with their feet through the back of their scrum to be picked up by the scrum half and passed to the backfield. When the ball exits the scrum, the scrum ceases and open play resumes.

THE RUCK AND THE MAUL

When a man is tackled and the ball comes to the ground between two or more opposing players, a ruck is formed. The rules are the same as the scrum, but only the feet can be used to convey the ball out.

If a ball is held by one or more defenders, and another teammate joins in, a maul is taking place. Teams that are constantly able to control the ball in rucks, mauls and scrums hold a mighty advantage over the opposition.

THE LINE-OUT

When the ball is kicked, or carried out of bounds it is said to have gone into "touch," the ball is brought back into play by means of a lineout. At the point where the ball passed into touch, the two packs of forwards line up opposite each other perpendicular to the sideline. The team not responsible for the ball going out of bounds now has a player throw the ball in between the two lines of players who attempt to catch the ball and control it or pass it back to the scrum half waiting beside the line. The ball must be thrown in straight between the two lines and the only players allowed to go for the ball are the forwards who are in the line-out, the scrum halves of each team and the two men who usually throw the ball in; all others must remain ten yards away from the line-out until it has ended.

WAYS TO SCORE

There are four ways to score in rugby:

  1. The Try. When a man carries the ball across his opponent's goal line and touches the ball down, he is awarded a try and five points.
  2. The Conversion. After a try is scored: the team scoring may kick the ball through the uprights off the ground from any point on a line perpendicular to where the ball was touched down. If successful, the kicking team is awarded two points.
  3. A Penalty Goal. A team is awarded a penalty kick if the opponent is guilty of a major penalty. The team offended against may attempt to place kick the ball through the uprights from the point of penalty, which is worth three points.
  4. The Dropped Goal. At any time during the game any player may attempt a drop kick over the opponent’s goal and is also worth three points.

PENALTIES

Penalties are issued against a team for various infractions. Off side, blocking, intentionally throwing the ball forward, or illegally playing the ball with the hands in a scrum, are the most common. In this event, the team offended against receives a kick from the point of the infraction. The kick may be a drop kick, a punt, or a place kick, or it may be merely tapped with foot and then passed to the kicker's teammates. Field position generally dictates the type kick taken.

THE OFF-SIDE LAW

Probably the most difficult law in rugby for the novice is the off side rule. It is, basically this: no player may participate in play unless he either has the ball or is behind the ball. When the ball is kicked forward by a man’s teammate from behind, that man is off side until he either retreats behind or is passed by the kicker. Off side May also occur when a player crosses the off side line of a scrum, ruck, maul or line out. The penalty is uniform, a "free" kick from the point of infraction, or a scrum, in the case of off side after a kick, at the point where the kick was taken.

ADVANTAGE

Just when a new spectator thinks that he (she) has a rough idea of what is going on, Law 8 will come up to bring back confusion.

The referee shall not whistle for an infringement during play which is followed by an advantage gained by the non-offending team.

The advantage law allows the game to keep moving providing something good occurs to the side that did not break the Laws. If a team knocks or throws forward and their side is awarded a scrum, it is because the opposition committed an infringement first and the referee was applying advantage. Some referees will indicate a penalty but not whistle it up to let the spectators know the advantage is in effect, keeping the added confusion to a minimum. These are the exceptions, however, so if you want to appear to know what's going on when someone questions a referee's call, mumble "advantage" and shuffle away looking thoughtful.

(from the Princeton Athletic Club Website)

Re-print of Geoff Andrews' inspiring speech to our club in 2010

The coach will want to see you do the basics well. He’ll want to see who knows the 7 pillars of rugby. Those 7 pillars are - The Scrum – The Lineout – The Ruck – The Maul – Kicking – Passing and Tackling. And…get this. He’ll want to see who dresses properly when you turn up for training. He doesn’t want to see people wearing caps or hats at training. He doesn’t want to see people wearing loose clothing and “always” take your boots to training.

College Coaches are always worried about coaching “up” to the highest common denominator or “down” to the lowest” The coach will be looking for those who can help him coach others on the field. He’s looking for navigators. Who can navigate the team down the field? Who missed a “must make” tackle? Who is reading the conditions? Who is using the sun to put in a high kick? Who is using the wind? If it’s raining keep the ball on the ground. Stand closer together when the wind is at your back (the ball floats away from you) always pass the ball to a receiver the way you’d like to receive it. Periphery vision.

As we evolve as rugby players, we handle knowledge of the game in different ways. We tend to move through these stages:
- First of all - We are unaware of the game of rugby.
- Then we become aware of it and how to play it.
- Then we comprehend meaning from information that we learn at training and listening to coaches and team mates.
- Now when you go to College you must personally apply the information learned and understand the need to be on top of the 7 pillars
- You must have wisdom – be enlightened so you can lovingly apply your knowledge to the game.
- Due to the competitiveness you must be truthful and learn to love your teammates. You had team mates in high school who you love and now you have to fall in love again.

These same team mates will help you with your exams.
Your first game will be a helter skelter teeth baring scrap like baboons fighting leopards. Everybody will be trying to impress the coach. The coach will be looking for steadiness while all this is going on.
He’ll look for fierce driving in mauls, ruthless finishing and high quality, bloodthirsty, bowel loosening tackling.
He’ll look for players who look for work.
He’ll look for players who back each other up.
He’ll look for players who are fit.
He’ll look for players with imagination
He’ll look for players who work on dominating their opposite number.
He’ll look for players who rise above the rest.
He’ll look for players who lift themselves out of the pack
He’ll look for players who know the laws. (Remember, rugby has no rules. We have laws)

The principle is competing against yourself. It's about self improvement, about being better than you were in the classroom the day before and at rugby training the last time you trained. Life is like riding a bicycle. Whoever stops pedaling will fall over. Circumstances may cause interruptions or delays, but never lose sight of the goal. Prepare yourself in every way you can by increasing your knowledge and adding to your experience, so that you can make the most of opportunity when it occurs. This goes for studying for exams and for playing rugby.

Rugby players who are unable to motivate themselves in the classroom or on the field must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents." GET READY!!
Remember – Train hard and study hard. Don’t practice. Train.
Give it everything, and then a little bit more. No one has ever drowned in sweat.
In rugby there are trophies and memories. Trophies gather dust. Memories last forever. The college rugby coach will help you retain those memories

"Invictus" William Ernest Henley

 

OUT of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Rugby Vocabulary

Backs - the group of players normally numbered 9 through 15 who do not participate in scrums and lineouts, except for the scrumhalf.

Blindside - from a set piece, this is the short side of the field.

Cap - anytime a player plays in a match he/she is technically awarded a cap.

Centre - either of the the backs wearing No. 12 (inside) or No. 13 (outside).

Drop Goal - a kick at the posts taken at anytime a side is close to their own try line. If successful it scores three points but the ball must hit the ground before being kicked.

Flanker - either of the two forwards wearing No. 6 or No. 7.

Flyhalf - the back wearing No. 10 who normally recieves the ball from the scrumhalf.

Forwards - the group of players normally numbered 1 through 8 who bind together into scrums, lineup for lineouts, and commit themselves to most rucks and mauls.

Front Row - the common name for the Prop/Hooker/Prop combination at the front of a scrum.

Garryowen - a kick which is high in the air.

Grubber - a kick of the ball which cause the ball to bounce and roll along the ground.

Halfback - the back wearing No. 9 who normally feeds the ball into a scrum

Hooker - the frontrow forward wearing No. 2.

Knock On - losing, dropping, or knocking the ball forward from a player's hand resulting in the ball being awarded to the other team in a scrum.

Lineout - the setplay restarting play after the ball has been taken out or kicked to touch.

Lock - either of the two forwards normally wearing No. 4 and No. 5.

Mark - a location on the pitch designated by the referee as the location a scrum should come together.

Offsides - during rucks, scrums, lineouts, and mauls an imaginary line is present over which any player crossing before the set piece is completed committs a penalty.

Pack - another name for all the forwards usually when they are bound for a scrum.

Penalty - any number of infractions or violations which award the other team a kick.

Penalty Try - the awarding of a try due to a flagrant violation by an opposing side that prevents an obvious try from being scored.

Place Kick - a kick of the ball resting on the ground, placed in an indention in the ground, from a small pile of sand, or from a kicking tee.

Referee - the sole judge and timekeeper of the game.

Restart - the kick restarting play after a half or after points are scored.

Ruck - typically after a runner has come into contact and the ball has been delivered to the ground once any combination of at least three players have bound themselves a ruck has been set.

Scrum - the formation used in the setplay restarting play after a knock-on or forward pass.

Second row - either of the two forwards normally wearing No. 4 and No. 5.

Tighthead - the No. 3 prop in a scrum due to his head being between the opposition's hooker and loosehead prop's shoulders

Touch judge - an official posted on each side of the pitch to mark the spot where balls go out of touch and to judge kicks at goal.

Try - a score of 5 points awarded when the ball is carried or kicked across the tryline and touched down to the ground by a player.

Wing/Winger - either of the two backs wearing No. 11 or No. 14.

How to Play Rugby

By Lee Smith, IRB Regional Development Manager Oceania (word document is attached to this page)

Rugby is a game in which the prime objective is to ground the ball across the goal line to score a try. In order to do this, a team's players must have possession of the ball. Their opponent's objective is to prevent them from scoring a try.

There are contests during the game for possession of the ball. These are:

  • scrums
  • lineouts
  • play after a tackle
  • rucks
  • mauls
  • fielding the kicked or "loose" ball
  • picking up the ball when it is on the ground after a tackle

During the game, contests for possession occupy a large amount of time. Scrum and lineout contests involve the forwards only, while rucks, mauls, fielding kicks and play after a tackle may involve the whole team. Once possession of the ball has been gained the team with it may use it to score a try in the following ways.

  • run with the ball towards the goal line avoiding defenders
  • pass the ball amongst team mates in a better position than themselves to assist in avoiding defenders
  • kick the ball towards the goal line, regain it and carry it over the goal line
  • kick the ball over the goal line and ground it

The aim of these actions is to score points by:

  • a "try" - grounding the ball over the goal line - 5 points
  • a "conversion" - converting the try to a goal by kicking the ball over the goalposts - 2 points
  • a "field goal" - drop kicking the ball over the goalposts from the field of play - 3 points
  • a "penalty" - place kicking or drop kicking the ball over the goalposts when a penalty has been awarded following an infringement by the opposing team - 3 points

Defending

The team that is without possession of the ball has the task of:

  • preventing the team in possession from moving the ball down the field
  • preventing the opposing team from scoring
  • regaining possession of the ball

This is achieved by:

  • tackling the ball carrier
  • "snaffling" the loose ball away from the ball carrier
  • forcing the ball carrier over the touchline or forcing the ball carrier to kick the ball over the touchline.

This gives the team the chance to regain the ball at the lineout that follows

  • "pressuring" the ball carrier and supporting team mates into errors and minor infringements that result in a scrum from which the ball may be regained o "fielding" the ball kicked by opponents - to either catch it or pick it up if it is on the ground
  • picking up the ball that is on the ground

Set Plays

Set plays are used to start and restart the game when stoppages occur. These are:

Kick-offs

Kick-offs are taken from the centre of the halfway line:

  • to start the game and to restart play after half-time - a place kick
  • to restart play after a team has been scored - a drop kick

When the ball is kicked off it must travel beyond the 10 metre line unless it is first played by an opponent.

No player of the kicking team may be in front of the ball when the kick is being taken.

The ball must not be kicked over the touch line on the full

Dropouts

Dropouts are always drop kicks

They are taken from behind the 22 metre line and the ball must reach the 22 metre line or pass beyond it after the attacking team has:

  • kicked the ball over the goal line where it is grounded by a defending player
  • kicked the ball over the dead ball line or into touch in goal

No player of the kicking team may be in front of the ball when the kick is being taken

Scrums

Scrums are formed in the field of play to restart play after minor Law infringements eg. the ball is passed or knocked forward.

Lineouts

Lineouts are formed to restart play after the ball has gone over the touch line or has been carried over it.

Penalty Kicks / Free Kicks

Penalty kicks and free kicks are taken to restart play when one team has infringed the Law.

Free kicks are taken to restart play after a "fair catch" has been claimed. A fair catch or "mark" occurs when the ball has been kicked by an opponent and it is caught within the 22 metre line, the catcher calling "mark".

Temporary stoppages in Play

After play has restarted at a set piece it is often halted and the contest for the ball takes place without any direction from the referee. These are called second phase plays and include rucks and mauls.

In addition, action that is temporarily stopped may continue after a player has been tackled, allowing others to gain possession of the ball and to run, pass or kick it.

All players may be involved in these contests although generally it is the forwards who are.

The use of the ball

Forwards win the ball for the backs to initiate an attack in which both backs and forwards may be involved.

The aim of an attack is to carry the ball down the field to score points or to create a points scoring opportunity.

To do this effectively ball carriers must at all times be supported by team mates ready to receive a pass or assist the ball carrier in some other way.

Positioning

Attacking and defending players must place themselves in the correct positions on the field.

Position simply means players being where they are best able to perform their positional roles o there are two kinds of positioning:

  • static positioning - where to be before the action starts
  • dynamic positioning - where to go and what to do when the action starts

Static Positioning

Note : In all diagrams the number correspond to the positional numbers used in all rugby teams as directed by the IRB.

Diagram 1
Scrum Positioning
 
 

Diagram 2
Lineout Positioning

 

Usually No 2 - the hooker - will be the thrower and the other players will line up between the 5 metre and 15 metre lines:

No. 1 prop/support No. 4 lock/jumper No. 3 prop/support No. 5 lock/jumper No. 6 flanker/support No. 8 No. 8/jumper No. 7 flanker/support No. 9 scrum half / half back

Backline Positioning

The key to backline formations for the following diagrams is:

No. 9 halfback No. 10 first five eighth / fly half / out half No. 11 left wing No. 12 second five eighth / inside centre No. 13 centre / outside centre No. 14 right wing No. 15 fullback

Diagram 3
Backline Positioning from Scrums - from one side of the field

Diagram 4
Backline Positioning from Scrums - from centre of the field

 

Diagram 5
Backline Positioning from Lineouts

 

Diagram 6
Positioning for the Kickoff


Dynamic Positioning

For players to usefully contribute to the team's attacking or defensive efforts once the action commences the following guidelines will be helpful:

Attacking Players

The ball carrier should:

  • go forward
  • run straight
  • run in balance to make a tackle more difficult and to withstand impact
  • pass to supporting players in a better position i.e. those with more room and further from opposing players
  • if there are no supporting players in a better position either kick ahead or retain the ball and set up a ruck or maul

The supporting player should run closely enough to the ball carrier:

  • for the ball to be passed no "heaved"
  • to be able to support on either side - left or right
  • not run ahead of the ball carrier, as the ball cannot be passed forward

Defending Players

Defending Players should:

  • run towards the ball carrier
  • run in line from inside the ball carrier so that the ball carrier is driven outwards
  • run in balance, ready to crouch - in a crouched position the defender can tackle, bind or recover the ball on the ground with minimal adjustment
  • not move away from a ball carrier until the play has passed or kicked the ball
  • support a team mate by completing the tackle on a partially tackled opponent
  • endeavour to be in a position to move towards the ball whether it is being carried or kicked


Positional Responsibilities

Forwards

There are two types of forwards - tight forwards and loose forwards. Their roles are different but complementary.

The tight forwards - The hooker, props and locks

  • these players are called "the front five"
  • they apply themselves to the job of winning possession of the ball at scrums, lineouts, rucks, mauls, kick-offs and drop-outs
  • they also take part in general play

The Hooker

As well as being a member of the front five the hooker has the additional tasks of:

  • hooking the ball in the scrum
  • usually throwing the ball into the lineouts

The Loose forwards - The flankers and No. 8

These players are called "the loosies" or the back row.

They apply themselves to the job of winning possession at set pieces but often they may be less committed to this task than the front five.

Although they have an important role in winning possession at set pieces their key role is in ensuring the ball is retained at phase play and general play.

They have the additional task of moving quickly about the field in support of their backs on attack and applying pressure to their opponents in defense.


Backs

There are three types of backs - the inside backs, the midfield backs and the back three. Again their roles are different, but complementary.

The inside backs - the halfback / scrum half; and first five eighth / fly half

These players are the link between the forwards and the other backs.

By passing the ball quickly to the outside backs the opportunities to gain territory and to score points are increased.

These players need to be fast runners and passers and sound decision makers in choosing the best option to attack.

In defense they must be able to tackle their opposite player within the team's defense pattern

The midfield backs - second five eighth and center

With more space, these players are able to accelerate and manoeuvre to provide the thrust and power of the attack. They should have sound passing skills for the attack to develop.

When defending, these players have to be strong tacklers to stop hard running opponents.

In both attack and defense, midfield backs run in balance to withstand impact and to apply themselves strongly yet safely to their tasks. In contact these players must be able to retain possession so that their team can continue to attack

The back three - the wings and fullback

These players should be fast runners so that they can complete the attack initiated by the other backs to score tries.

They must be able to evade opponents.

In defense they must be able to tackle their opponent within the team pattern.

In defense they must also be able to field any balls that are kicked to them behind the remainder of their team.

When they field the ball by catching or picking up they may then counter attack by passing, running or kicking.

Rugbyis a game that balances the contest for the ball with continuing play. As a result it is a game in which players of a variety of abilities assist each other to stop the opposition from scoring points, to get the ball back and to score points themselves.

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