Rugby For Beginners – Rugby Introduction

Rugby is a great sport, which makes for very enjoyable viewing, due to the free flowing nature of rugby. However rugby is also a very complex sport, which makes it difficult for newcomers of the sport to understand the game. In a previous post we talked about whether rugby can ever be competitive in the USA , it can be argued that one reason why the rugby bug has not bitten in other countries is due to the game being rather complex at first. This post will cover rugby for beginners, introducing the sport to newcomers, as well as touching on rugby betting for beginners.

Rugby For Beginners Explained

Rugby is a sport consisting of two teams playing against each other. In short the ultimate objective is to try and defend your own goal line while trying to attack the opponent’s goal line. The “complexity” comes in with a set of rules which is enforced during open play, meaning while the team is attacking or defending.

Rugby for beginners – the basics.

Scoring points:

The Try & Conversion 

When a try is scored, the team managed to ground the ball over the opponent’s goal line, when this happens 5-points is awarded to the team which scored the try. After the try is scored the team gets to kick the ball, known as a conversion attempt. The conversion kick will be attempted, depending on the angle of which the try was scored, as can be seen on the image below. If the conversion kick is successful it will lead to 2 extra points for the team. Thus a try with a successful conversion is worth 7-points.

rugby for beginners


A penalty is awarded when the opposing team commits a foul, or rule violation. While there are many reasons why a penalty can be awarded the most common reasons are:


There are many offside violations, the most common offside violation happens when a player is in front of the ball. Imagine player A kicking the ball when the ball is kicked and player B is in front of the ball he needs to drop back, if player B continues to advance and try to contest for the ball he is offside. This is very similar to a soccer offside violation. With the difference being a penalty will be awarded to the opposing team.

Another common offside violation happens when a ruck is formed:

If a player is tackled and, let’s say, number-7 comes in for the poach over the ball (to try and steal the ball / turnover), he can do so from any angle as there is technically no offside line. At this point a ruck has NOT been formed. When an opposition player comes in to clear said 7, taking him out of the ruck,  and there is contact/bind a ruck is formed, which includes not only an offside line but a ‘gate’ at the back of the ruck that must be gone through for further players to go through should they choose to compete in the ruck for the ball or to clear out.

A lot of great 7’s and poachers are accused of being offside, and sometimes they are (think Richie Mccaw)! Most of the times though they’re masters of knowing exactly when a ruck is formed and get their work done (turnover the ball) before the offside line is even formed. A handy rugby betting tip for rugby beginners is to compare the strength of the number 7, flanker, to the oppositions flanker. More turnover balls ultimately leads to more points being scored!

High Tackle:

In rugby all tackles needs to be below the shoulders, if a player tackles the opposing player above his shoulders a penalty will be awarded to the team that was tackled high. Depending on the severity of the tackle a yellow card may be awarded, which means the player needs to leave the field for 10-minutes. In severe cases a red card can also be awarded, meaning the player needs to leave the game permanently.

Not Releasing The Ball:

When a player gets tackled he needs to release the ball i.e. a player that is on the ground is not allowed to hold on to the ball, when this happens a penalty will be awarded to the opposing team. This is one of the more common penalties you will see.

Tackling a player in the air:

When a player jumps attempting to catch a ball, and an opposing player tackles or interferce with the player trying to catch the ball, a penalty will be awarded to the team that was attempting to catch the ball. This penalty often happens during open play or in a lineout.


rugby penalties

rugby for beginners – tackling a player in the air

What happens when a penalty is awarded?

When a penalty is awarded the team to which the penalty is awarded gets a choice of four options.

  1. Kick for goal
  2. Kick for the touch line
  3. Take a scrum
  4. Take a tap kick

1 – Kicking for goal

When a team chooses to kick for goal, the goal kicker,usually the flyhalf, will try to kick the ball between the goal posts (uprights) when this happens it will result in 3-points being added to the teams score who kicked the ball.

Kicking for goal usually happens when the scores are close together and the ball is in the oppositions territory. Teams with good goal kickers are usually successful teams. Rugby for beginners, here is a good rugby betting tip for you. When placing a wager ensure the team you are betting on has a good goal kicker.

2 – Kicking for touch 

When a penalty is awarded the team also has the option to kick for touch, kicking for touch means that the kicker, kicks the ball out of bounds. A lineout will be formed where the ball has been kicked out of bounds. With the team who kicked the ball, having the option to throw the ball into the lineout.

A team will select to kick for touch when they are deep in their own territory or when the goal kicker is not being successful with his kicks, especially if the kick is on a difficult angle.

3 – Taking a scrum 

A team also has the option to select to scrum when awarded a penalty, although this choice is less common than the two options mentioned above it does happen.

A team will select to scrum when awarded a penalty usually if they are close to the opponent’s goal line, on the 5-meter line, and their scrum is stronger than the opponents scrum. By doing this they will try to scrum the opposing team backwards in order for the team to get the ball to their goal line.

4 – Taking a quick tap kick

Taking a quick tap kick means that the team selects to continue play, this usually happens quickly. As rugby has become more free flowing with a greater emphasis on attacking rugby this option has become more popular, especially with teams such as the All-Blacks.

Rugby for beginners – open play and basic infringements

As most readers should be aware you are only allowed to pass the ball backwards in rugby. The goal is to break through the opponent’s defensive line either by set-plays or by bulldozing over defenders, getting quick front foot ball and then passing the ball wide to the wingers, who will make a dart for the touchline.

Here is an example of some good tries scored. Notice how the ball is passed backwards and the players make darts towards the defending players.

General Infringements

During open play general infringements happen quite often, here is a list of some of the more general infringements helping rugby for beginners to get a better understanding of open play.


When a player loses the ball forward, it is referred to as a knockon. Knockons happen quite often during a match, especially if it is raining during the match.

When the knockon happens, the opposing team either gets advantage, allowing play to continue, if there is no advantage a scrum will be formed with the opposing team getting the throw in to the scrum.

The Scrum

rugby for beginners the scrum

rugby for beginners – the scrum

A scrum is one of the more common occurrences during a rugby match. A scrum consist of 8-players binded together trying to push the opposition off the ball. Another good rugby betting tip for beginners is to back a team with a good scrum. The scrum is referred to as the bread and butter of a rugby team, and is of vital importance. If a team has a weak scrum they will struggle to compete.





The Lineout 

the lineout

An example of a rugby lineout

A lineout is formed when a player steps out of bounds or when the ball is kicked out of bounds. A lineout consist of a minimum of 3-players although there is no minimum amount of players who can join the lineout.






Rugby for beginners – Conclusion

Covered above are some of the most common occurrences in a rugby match, while not conclusive the above should give you a good idea as to the basic rules of rugby. Especially if you are new to the game, however the best advice is to read this post and then watch a rugby match or two to get a feel for the game and the rules. Once you have done that visit our site to go through our rugby betting tutorials, to learn how to make smart rugby wagers.

Finally this infographic, kindly provided by toronto rugby will give you a nice summary of what has been touched above as well as some more basics.

inforgraph rugby

rugby for beginners a graphical summary

Do you feel our rugby for beginners post, gave you a better understanding of the game? Would you like to know more or have any questions? Drop us a comment below!