Rugby FAQ's - part 1

The origins of rugby, aka “when was rugby invented” ?

 Rugby was officially known as rugby when schoolboy William Webb Ellis decided to pick the ball up during a football match and run with it instead of kicking it. This happened in 1823 in Rugby School for Young Gentlemen in the town of Rugby in Warwickshire in England, UK, hence the name of this intriguing new game referred to as rugby football. The impact of that simple action saw further development on how the game is played with rules and regulations introduced and a Rugby Football Union (RFU) being formed and subsequently taken around the world during the British Empire era. This exciting and character building game today sees 105 countries listed in the international governing body, World Rugby, ranking table, S. Africa take the n.1 spot and American Samoa 105th place. Rugby before it was called rugby dates back to over 2,000 years ago during the Roman Empire days with a game called Harpestum which means seize in ancient Greek. The Ruby World Cup Tournament alone generated almost £3 billion in Japan in 2019 and star players earning over £1 million a season at club level plus international appearance earnings and lucrative sponsor contracts. This may not compare with football player’s salaries but rugby was only recognised as a professional sport in 1995 up until then it was classified as an amateur sport.

Rugby has always held in great esteem four principals, win possession, go forward & support, continuity and pressure. The rugby spirit is described by integrity, passion, discipline & respect. Now, the game and its ethos explained.

How do you play rugby?

 A rugby union game consists of 2 teams of 15 players each. The ball can be kicked forward but a hand pass cannot it must be thrown to a player behind you. A team itself has 8 forwards, heavy built players for power while the remaining players are called running backs and their job is speed and agility. Should the ball be dropped or thrown forward then the 8 forwards form a scrum and push for the ball against the opposing team. A scrum is formed by 3 players in the front row then 4 players or 2nd row lock on to the front row the final player locking on to the 2nd row. Throughout the game the referee will award penalty kicks for players infringing the rules. When the ball goes out of play it restarts with a lineout. The forwards of the 2 teams form a line beside each other and a player throws the ball between the lines, when caught the teams then push forward or release the ball to the running backs. A lineout is the only time the ball is allowed to travel forward by a hand pass. If you are not familiar with all the rules just remember that in rugby you kick forward but pass backwards in order to understand the game’s basic objectives. When a team reaches the ‘try’ area which is the zone behind the goal posts 4 points are won plus a further 2 points can be added with a conversion kick earned for scoring a try. A penalty kick is worth 3 points and at any time during the game a player can score 3 points with a drop goal going between the posts, a drop goal kick is a half-volley, that is, the ball bounces on the ground first before it is kicked, it requires perfect coordination to effect it.


League Table Points, Bonus Points & Game Points

 A team that wins a game gets 4 points, a draw between teams gets 2 points and no points for a loss. Extra or bonus points can be earned by teams for scoring 4 tries or more in a game earns 1 point. A defeated team can get up to 2 points, 1 bonus point by scoring 4 tries or more and 1 losing bonus point for losing by 7 or less points. The maximum points possible for a game is 5 points in total in league tables whereas scoring points during the match is 5 points for a try by grounding the ball in the area behind the goalposts. 2 points for the subsequent conversion kick on scoring a try. The referee can award a penalty kick for teams not playing to the rules and is worth 3 points while a drop goal by any team member during a game also earns 3 points.


What are the rugby player positions ?

 There are 15 players and each player has a number which signifies the player’s role in the team.

N.1 .Loose Head Prop forward on the left of N.2 in the front row

N.2 – The middle forward of the 3 person front row, he is also called the hooker as he is responsible for hooking the ball back with his feet to the other players when it’s put into the scrum. He also throws the ball in when there is a lineout

N.3 – Tight Head Prop forward on the right of N.2

The front row forwards bind and interlock with the opposing team’s front row.

N.4 – 2nd Row forward locks with N.2 & N.1, key powerhouse when driving forward

N.5 – 2nd Row forward locks with N.2 & N.3, key powerhouse when driving forward

N.6 – 2nd Row forward or Blindside Flanker in the row of 4 players

N.7 – 2nd Row forward or Openside Flanker in the row of 4 players

N.6 & N.7 are ready to break away to support the backs or first to tackle opposing team players when the ball leaves the scrum.

N.8 – Last person in the scrum formation, responsible for controlling the ball with his feet when the scrum is driving forward and locks with N.4 & N.5. This player is the only one who can pick the ball up from the scrum apart from N.9 and is a good all-rounder as a forward come runner with backs.

N.9 – Scrum-half, he is the connector between the forwards and backs, everywhere the forwards go he follows ready to pick the ball up to feed the backs and follows the backs in support.

N.10 – Fly-half, usually the first player to receive a pass from the scrum-half from scrums and lineouts. Always running in support of the backs and tactics decider in set moves plus usually a dead ball kicker too for penalties and conversions.

N.11 – Left Wing, the player which is furthest positioned from the forwards and the last in the backs line, very fast and agile.

N.12 – Inside Centre, speed essential to gain territory as main objective.

N.13 – Outside Centre, speed essential to gain territory as main objective while supporting the backs in carrying the ball or tactical pre-set moves

The inside & outside centres are dynamic and creative players with quick reactions and good vision in exploiting weaknesses the opposing team’s line of defence.

N.14 – Right Wing, like the left winger speed, velocity and agility are key factors.

N.15 – Fullback, last line of defence to prevent the opposing team from scoring, must have a strong kick when clearing the danger from attacking players,  be a good  catcher of the ball and be able to run fast. Often this player links up with the backs to provide the extra man tactically.

In rugby the substitutes are called replacements and can take the place of players for temporary injuries or blood injury at any time during the game or fully replace players. Although the positions above are outlined in today’s fast moving game some players are used in other roles for reasons of tactic or necessity. Even modern forwards have become faster runners and fitter than their respective players from years ago.

In the next entry we will tell you what the most important rugby tournaments are, and talk about Rugby 7s, so stay tuned for the part 2