Rugby union is the most entertaining sport in the world, but if you’re a first-time watcher, it can be so high-octane that it’s difficult to keep up. Now, the rules for rugby sevens (link heer) are admittedly different to the rules of rugby union (obviously with fewer players for one). Still, it’s important to grasp the rules of rugby union first, and the rich history behind the game is fascinating too!


The origins of rugby can be traced back to the early 19th century in England. According to legend, the game was invented in 1823 by a young man named William Webb Ellis. While playing a game of football at his school in Rugby, England, Ellis picked up the ball and ran with it, instead of kicking it. This act of defiance is seen as the birth of the sport of rugby.

The first official rules of rugby union were established in 1863 by the Rugby Football Union (RFU), the governing body for the sport in England. These rules set out the basic principles of the game, including the number of players on each team, the size of the field, and the points system.

The basics

In rugby union, two teams of 15 players each compete against each other on a field that is 100 meters long and 70 meters wide. The object of the game is to score more points than the other team by carrying the ball over the opponent’s goal line or kicking it between the goalposts.

The ball is oval-shaped and is made of leather or synthetic material. It is traditionally called a “rugby ball,” and it is slightly larger and more rounded than an American football.


The game is divided into two halves, each lasting 40 minutes. The ball can be passed or kicked forward, but it cannot be thrown. Players can also run with the ball, but they must release it if tackled by an opponent. If a player is tackled to the ground, they must release the ball, and a ‘ruck’ is formed, where both sides compete for the ball. If the ball is dropped, a scrum is called.

A scrum is a way of restarting play after a minor infringement or when the ball has gone out of bounds. It involves the forwards from each team binding together and pushing against each other in an attempt to gain possession of the ball.


There are several ways to score points in rugby. A try is scored when a player touches the ball down over the opponent’s goal line, and it is worth five points. A conversion kick, taken from a spot in line with where the try was scored, is worth an additional two points. A penalty kick, awarded for a more serious infringement, is worth three points. And a drop goal, scored by kicking the ball over the crossbar and between the goalposts, is worth three points.

It’s not just rugby union…

Rugby union is the most popular form of the sport and is played virtually worldwide. Rugby league, another variation of rugby, is played mainly in countries such as Australia and New Zealand, but is also popular in other countries such as England.

Rugby is a popular sport at all levels, from amateur clubs to international tournaments. The sport has a strong tradition of sportsmanship and respect, and it is enjoyed by players and spectators worldwide. We hope that these basic rules were enough for you to enjoy the spectacle. Please see here for our lowdown on the rules of rugby sevens. 

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