Rugby 🏉 - Getting started

Rugby is a contact sport and known as being one of the most violent sports as well. Rugby, also known as rugby union, is played with 15 players on each side of a field with two goal posts and an oval-shaped ball. The main object of the game is to score points and get more than the opposing team. 

The biggest rugby event is the World Cup, and as of 2020, there are more than 180,000 rugby clubs around the world. The sport is played by men and women worldwide and originated in England in the first part of the 19th century in the market town of rugby. 

Online Rugby

There are several professional rugby leagues around the world and international competitions such as the World Cup. There is a lot of betting action for rugby online, as most sportsbooks the world over will have odds posted for rugby games. 

The bigger the league or competition, the more betting markets will be available. There are many types of bets to make on rugby, and some sportsbooks even offer live betting for the sport. 

Some sportsbooks will offer special bonuses and promotions for rugby. Many of those sportsbooks can be global, but also ones catering to bettors in countries such as England, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, which is where rugby is one of the more popular sports. There is also no lack of betting action when the rugby World Cup rolls around. 

Rules and Gameplay 

Two teams take part in a rugby match, and the team that scores the most points wins. There are a few ways points can be scored. Grounding the ball in the opponents' in-goal area is worth 5 points, and the conversion kick after going through the goalposts is worth 2 points. If a player converts a penalty kick or a dropkick, it is worth three points. 

The rugby field is a rectangular one with two in-goal areas on each end of the field, and a typical rugby field is a maximum of 144 meters (157 yards) long by 70 meters (77 yards) wide. There is one goal post on each side of the field in the middle of the goal lines. It includes two poles that are 5.6 meters (6.1 yards) apart, and they are connected by a crossbar that is 3 meters (3.3 yards) above the playing surface. 

At the start of a rugby game, there is a dropkick with the players running after the ball into their opponents' side of the field. The other team is trying to control the ball and advance it. If the ball does not get to the 10-meter line, the opposing team can kick the ball off again or have a scrum.

A scrum is the way to restart a game after a minor foul. A scrum can take place after a ball has been passed forward, knocked forward, or a player takes it over their try line and puts the ball on the ground, if a player is offside, or there is a ruck or maul where the ball cannot be where no team can get possession. 

A maul is when the ball is not on the ground and being passed around a pileup of players. A ruck is when the ball is on the ground, and a group of players passes it between themselves with their feet. 

In scrum eight forwards from each of the teams crouch down to form three rows and then lock arms and their heads down. They push forward against the opposing team doing the same thing, and the ball is thrown into the scrum where the players try to gain possession of the ball by kicking it back to their side. 

A rugby game is 80 minutes long with two 40 minute halves. There is injury time, like in soccer, so a match can go longer than 80 minutes depending on how long a player was injured on the field or how long the referee has to take during disciplinary action on the offending player. 

If the game is part of a tournament knockout stage, there are two extra 10 minute periods added. If the game is still tied after those periods, there are 20 minutes of sudden death where the first team to score wins the game. 

Players can move the ball by passing it to another teammate, but the pass cannot be moving forward. He ball can be advanced by passing it, kicking it, or running with it after a scrum. The player that has control of the ball is the only one that can be tackled. If there is what is called a knock-on, the play begins again with a scrum. 

At any time, a player that has the ball can kick it to gain territory. The main goal of the team that is on defense is to get the ball back and stop the opposing player with the ball from moving it forward. 

They try to tackle the player with the ball, and then there is usually a ruck. The defense can also contest possession with the player with the ball on their feet, which is a maul. A legal tackle is one taking a player to the ground below the shoulders. A tackle using the head or shoulders is illegal. 

Defenders cannot push, shoulder-charge, or trip an opposing player, or they will be penalized. A tackle cannot be made on a player that is jumping to catch the ball until they hit the ground. 

There are many penalties in rugby, mainly dealing with tackling. There are penalties where the team can choose a scrum or lineout, or if they are close enough can go for the kick through the uprights worth three points.

Like in soccer, rugby uses yellow cards for penalties that are excessive and red cards for ones that are very excessive where players are thrown out of the game. 

How the Teams Work 

The positions in rugby are:

  • Hooker – a forward and a decision-maker on the field and tries to win possession on the scrum. They are usually smaller and faster players. 
  • Prop –Players in the front row and are at the bottom of the scrum and stronger players that are the more physical ones in the game. 
  • Lock/Second Row – The second row of forwards that are usually taller and more powerful and support ball carriers and those in a ruck or maul.
  • Flanker/Wing Forward – All around players with good ball-handling and tackling skills and are often the jumper in a lineout throw-in. 
  • Number 8 – This position's primary duties in the backline are support play, tackling, and ball-carrying. 
  • Scrum-Half – The scrum-half as the link between the forwards and the backs and are usually smaller and faster players. 
  • Fly Half – A critical position that handles the ball often. They make the decisions to kick the ball to gain territory and when to pass the ball to continue possession. 
  • Wings – Play on the side of the field that are usually the scoring players and the last line of defense. 
  • Centers – Players that control the ball in the middle of the field, trying to make passes to the wings to score. They also have to be good tacklers in the middle of the field and are usually faster players. 
  • Fullback – the closest thing in rugby to a goalie. They play defense as well as catch balls from opponents' kicks to start the attack on offense. 

Strategy & Tactics 

There are many strategies and tactics for rugby before games and during them. A team will try to play to their strength, whether they are a more offensive or defensive-minded team. Teams will also use strategies depending on if they are a stronger and more physical team that likes to mix it up on the field.

The players determine much of the tactics used in rugby. For example, whether to take a throw-in, free kick, or scrum. The coaches will also come up with a strategy for a specific game taking advantage of the team's strengths and trying to thwart the opponent's strength. 

Often, the tactics will come into play, depending on how the game is unfolding. 

If a team is being physical and slowing the pace, the opposing team may develop a strategy to speed the pace up by bringing in faster players. Also, the game's score will determine the tactics used, like if a team is down, they may need to change up their strategy to try to get back in the game. 

History of the Game

The history of rugby can go back to English school football at Rugby School in Warwickshire, England, back in 1823. It is believed that William Webb Ellis picked up a ball off the ground and started to run with it. 

The school even made a memorial plaque for the event in 1895. The trophy for the Rugby World Cup is named after Webb Ellis. The game evolved from the Rugby School and made its way to other universities.

There were sets of rules for rugby, but The Football Association (FA), which was established in 1863, codified those rules. Many clubs were not in favor of the new rules and split from the FA. In 1871, the Rugby Football Union was established with a code of "rugby football," and those set of rules are more close to the ones used to today. 

Over the years, the sport grew in England and around the world, mainly in Western Europe and the English colonies and ex-colonies such as Australia, New Zealand. The first international rugby game took place between England and Scotland in Edinburgh, Scotland. 

The first World Cup for rugby took place in New Zealand and Australia in 1987 and won by New Zealand. Rugby was also added in the 2016 Olympic games. The first Rugby World Cup for women was held in 1991. 

From the 1980s and 1990s, the sport continued to grow with professional leagues seeing success and some of the bigger events between national teams. Some of the popular rugby events include the Six Nations Championship and The Rugby Championship. 

Wall of Fame

In terms of the rugby wall of fame, there is the World Rugby Hall of Fame, located in Rugby, Warwickshire, England. Not only are players inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame but also coaches, administrators, match officials, institutions and other individuals. To see all the inductees for the World Rugby Hall of Fame CLICK HERE.

There is much debate on who the best rugby player of all-time is, but many believe that the honor goes to Gareth Edwards. However, other players that are debated as being some of the all-time greats include Brian O'Driscoll, Dan Carter, Michael Jones, David Campese, Jonah Lomu, and Carlos Spencer. 

Distinctive Elements 

The main distinctive element of rugby has to be the physicality of the game. Since there are so many positions, there are many physical traits for players such as those that are in the scrum being the physical, imposing players, and the faster wings that are the scorers and rely more on their speed. Still, Rugby is a very physical and violent game.

Another distinctive element has to do with the international game and the traditions that many teams have. A perfect example of this is the haka dance performed by the All Blacks, which is the New Zealand national rugby team. 

The biggest competition by far for rugby is the World Cup. The tournament is held every four years, and 20 teams compete. In the 2019 World Cup, South Africa won, tying them with New Zealand with the most World Cup wins with three. Only four countries have won in the 10 World Cups in New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, and England. 


There are both team and player statistics for rugby, with win-loss records being the most important team stat. One crucial stat for both teams and players in a rugby match are tackles made, and tackles missed. Other key player stats include meters carried, clean breaks, carries, points, and offloads.

Other team stats include clean breaks, carries, tackles won (%), lineouts won (%), scrums won (%), rucks won (%), yellow cards, and meters carried. 

People that bet on rugby often use statistics, both player and team, when handicapping a rugby game. There are tons of stats out there and many head-to-head ones, which are good ones to use when handicapping a game. Like in any sport, if you handicap a rugby game, it can give you a little edge in knowing the likelihood of a specific rugby bet. 

Popularity and Cultural Impact 

While rugby is not as popular as some of the more prominent sports around the world, it is still prevalent. This is especially the case in England, Scotland, Wales, Italy, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. In those nations, the top rugby players are big sports stars who endorse products and lend their names to worthy causes. 

The frantic action on the rugby field is unmatched in both the physicality and the speed of the game. The cultural impact of the sport is more seen in the countries where the sport is more popular. Many think that American football is the toughest and most physical sport in the world, but most rugby players would disagree with that. 

About Albert Tomkins
Albert Tomkins author profile

Tyler has a true passion for sports, DFS & sports betting in particular. Combine his love for sports with his journalistic background and you have a great guy to cover the latest industry news. He also enjoys disc golf, fishing and traveling in his free time.

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