Rugby field – guide to the dimensions, areas, posts, flags & surface on which rugby is played.
Rugby Union is played on a rugby field, sometimes refered to as a rugby pitch or ground. As the game has gone from amateur to professional so the venues at which the game is played have been upgraded but throughout the basic rugby field layout has remained constant.
The overall size of the pitch is larger than an American Football pitch at 100m long by 70m wide and has in-goal areas like end zones not greater than 22m wide. The lines on the playing area such as the halfway line and the 22 are used at different stages of the game for restarts but points are only scored when the ball crosses the goal line in hand or when it is kicked between the posts.
The World Rugby rugby rules set out the rugby field dimensions which are the same for all forms and age ranges of the game.
Rugby Field Plan
The Ground – collective term for the all areas of the field on the plan.
Field of Play – ball is in play when between the touch lines and goal lines. The lines are not counted as part of the field of play.
Playing Area – field of play plus the in-goal zones. Again the lines are not within the playing area.
Playing Enclosure – playing area + 5m perimeter
In-goal – between goal, dead ball and the touch-in-goal lines. The goal line is counted but not the dead line or the touch-in-goal line.
The 22 – between goal line and 22 metre line, includes 22m line but not the goal line.
Rugby Field Posts
Rugby field goal post dimensions are also set out in the IRB Rules of Rugby and state the distance between posts (5.6m), height of crossbar (3m) and height of posts (3.4m).
The padding around the base of the rugby field posts is also specified as not being more than 300mm from the goal line.
Rugby field flag posts
There are 14 flags marking key areas of the rugby field – touch-in-goal, goal, dead ball, 22-metre and half way lines. Under the rules they do not count as part of the rugby field playing area.
Rugby Field Playing Surface
Grass, sand, clay surfaces are within regulations. Hard surfaces such as concrete or asphalt are not considered playable as these can lead to serious career ending injuries such as the broken leg suffered by former Ireland and Saracens player Paul Wallace when playing on a frozen pitch against Ulster at Ravenhill.
Teams have the right to object to a rugby field or its markings before a match begins. Rugby games can go ahead when it snows if the pitch is deemed to be safe to play on. This was not the case in the 2012 Six Nations match between the Ireland Rugby team and their hosts France. There is no undersoil heating at the Stade de France Stadium and so after one of the coldest spells in history for February and despite the best efforts of the groundsmen to defrost the pitch, the match was called off with only a few minutes to kick-off.
Diagrams taken from the World Rugby Laws of the Game Rugby Union which covers the rugby rules relating to the rugby field.