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The Basics of Rugby Union


The two primary forms of rugby are "union" and "league". In this article; we'll discuss the rules and basics of the most popular form of the game - rugby union. The term comes from the governing body of rugby union in England, the "Rugby Football Union".


Scrum - the formation used in a set play after a knock-on (dropping the ball forward) or a forward pass. The forwards from each side bind together and then the two packs come together to allow the scrum-half (number 9) to deliver the ball to the scrum.

Lineout - the set play which restarts the match after the ball has been taken out or kicked to touch. Both sets of forwards will line up opposite each other with the side that has the ball calling a play. The ball must be thrown directly down the middle of the two lines.

Drop goal - a kick between the posts from the attacking side, which scores three points if successful.

Penalty kick - an uncontested kick awarded to a team after a major infringement by the other side. The kick can be taken directly at goal and scores three points.

Conversion - a kick at the posts after a try, scoring two points if successful. The kick must be attempted directly from a spot perpendicular to the place where the try was awarded.

Try - a score of five points when the ball is carried or kicked across the try line and touched down to the ground by a player.

Tackle - an act of seizing and attempting to stop an opposing player in possession of the ball by bringing them to the ground.

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

Ruck - the ruck is a phase of play where one or more players from each team, who are on their feet, in physical contact, close around the ball on the ground.

What are the basic rules?

Rugby is a complicated sport with many rules to follow. The players use an egg-shaped ball, and they have to score a “try” which gets the team five points. There are two “h-shaped” posts in rugby along the try line and players are able to kick the ball through the posts to gain points. Two points are obtained for a “conversion” of a try and three for a drop goal or penalty. The ball must be kicked through the posts and above the horizontal bar. It is illegal to pass the ball forward, and the player who is receiving the ball via a pass must be level or behind the person who is passing.

What are the positions and roles in rugby union?

Rugby Scrum

There are 15 players in a rugby union team. Seven forwards (wearing tops numbered 1-8) and eight backs (9-15).

In a nutshell, the forwards are in the scrum, and their general job is to stop the opponent. Each forward has a different position and duty, and they tend to have a specific build to match their duty.

The backs are the creative players of the team, and they are the ones who score tries or create opportunities for tries. The scrum-half is the primary passer of the ball, and the fly-half is in most cases, the primary kicker.

Where is rugby popular?

Rugby is very popular in a select number of countries around the globe. It’s the most popular sport in New Zealand and Wales. Rugby is in the top four of popular sports in Australia, England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Argentina, Italy and South Africa. It is also watched in other countries, but the ones listed above are the “Tier 1“ countries who compete for the major honours. It is a growing sport in Japan too, where the last world cup was held. After defeating Ireland and Scotland - they can now be considered as a Tier 1 nation.

Biggest club competitions?

In Europe, there are three main leagues. The English Premiership, the Top 14 (French league) and the Pro 14, a league in which teams from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Italy and even South Africa compete. The European Rugby Champions Cup is the equivalent of the Champions League in football, and the best teams from the aforementioned leagues compete in this competition. Leinster from Ireland and Toulouse are the two most successful sides with four wins each.

In the southern hemisphere - the Super Rugby competition is the most important and it has teams from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Argentina and Japan. The (Christchurch) Crusaders of New Zealand have dominated Super Rugby with ten wins in total.

International rugby

The Rugby World Cup was introduced in 1987 and is the most prestigious tournament in rugby union. New Zealand and South Africa have three wins each; Australia two and England are the only European team to win the Rugby World Cup - they won it once in 2003. New Zealand are by far the best side in history with a dominant H2H against all other nations. Nations play test matches against each other throughout the year and are still seen as vital to win. There is also an annual Six Nations competition between England, Ireland, France, Scotland, Wales and Italy. England have the most outright wins with 28 in total.  

The Six Nations at STS

Rugby is one of the most physical sports in the world, and many also enjoy betting live. The Six Nations is always an exciting contest; often with multiple teams being in with a shout of winning at the end. Keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming promotions and odds on the Six Nations and numerous other rugby events and matches throughout the year!


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