How to Play Rugby

Rugby is a thrilling and physically demanding team sport that has captivated both players and spectators for over a century. Combining speed, strength, strategy, and skill, it’s a sport that offers an exhilarating experience like no other. While there are varying forms of the game, this guide will focus on how to play rugby union. Whether you’re a beginner eager to learn the fundamentals or a seasoned player looking to refine your skills, by the end of this guide you’ll be equipped with all of the essential insights needed to excel in the sport.

Understanding the Basics

Objective of the Game:

Rugby Union involves two teams with 15 players each aiming to score points by carrying the ball over the opponent’s goal line or kicking it between the uprights. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.

The Pitch:

A rugby pitch is 100 meters long and 70 meters wide, marked with lines representing different zones. The try line, goal line, and dead-ball line form the perimeter, while the halfway line divides the pitch.

For more information about rugby union in New Zealand, visit

Player Positions and Roles


The forwards (numbers 1-8) form the scrum and are typically larger, powerful players responsible for winning possession and gaining territory. Each forward has a specific role, such as the prop providing stability in the scrum or the lock lifting in line-outs.


The backs (numbers 9-15) are usually faster and more agile players, crucial for exploiting opportunities created by the forwards. The scrum-half (number 9) initiates attacks, while the fly-half (number 10) orchestrates the team’s tactics.

Basic Skills


Accurate passing is essential in rugby union. Players should practice various passes like the spin pass, pop pass, and cut pass. Mastering these techniques will improve ball distribution and keep the attack fluid.


Rugby tackles require proper technique to ensure safety and effectiveness. Aim to tackle the opponent’s midsection, wrapping your arms securely around their waist. Keep your head to one side to avoid injuries.


Running with the ball requires agility and speed. Practice running straight while holding the ball with both hands, keeping it close to your body to prevent turnovers. Once you are comfortable with this, you can progress to running with the ball held in one arm.


Kicking plays a crucial role in rugby. Learn the drop kick, the punt kick, and the grubber kick to vary your attack and control the game’s tempo.

Understanding the Rules

Offside Rule:

Players must be behind the ball carrier or the ball itself during play. Being offside can lead to penalties.


A scrum is a method of restarting play after minor infractions. The forwards bind together and contest possession of the ball in order to gain territory.


When the ball goes out of bounds, a line-out is awarded. Players lift their teammates to catch the ball thrown into play.

Penalties and Free Kicks:

Penalties and free kicks are awarded for rule violations. The non-offending team can choose to kick for points, kick for touch, or opt for a scrum.

Fitness and Conditioning


Rugby matches can be physically demanding, so building cardiovascular endurance through running and interval training is vital.

Strength and Power:

Strength training improves tackling, scrummaging, and ball-carrying abilities. Compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses are beneficial.


Flexibility reduces the risk of injuries and improves agility on the field. Incorporate stretching exercises into your training routine.


Mastering rugby union requires dedication, skill, and a thorough understanding of the game. By learning the basics, refining your skills, understanding the rules, and maintaining peak physical fitness, you can excel in this thrilling sport. Remember to always play with respect for your teammates and opponents, adhering to the values of sportsmanship that lie at the core of rugby union. So, gear up, hit the field, and embrace the challenges and rewards that come with playing rugby union.