What is rugby? Your guide to the game
If you are new to Rugby Union the terminology used can be confusing so here is a quick introduction the game and the terms used. Don’t worry, there isn’t a test!
What is rugby glossary of terms
What is rugby? A
Advantage – if there is a foul or infringement of the rules, referees can allow play to continue until the non-offending team have been able to gain sufficient advantage. If no advantage is gained the referee can whistle and take play back and award a penalty to the disadvantaged team for the original issue.
Ankle Tap – or ‘tap tackle’ is where a player tackles the opponent by grabbing or tapping the opponent’s feet causing them to trip or fall.
What is rugby? B
Backs – collective name for players 9 to 15 on the team who run the ball and kick for territory.
Binding – the term used to describe how players grip team mates during a scrum, ruck or maul.
Blindside – or ‘weak side’ is the side closest to the touchline from a set piece, ruck or maul. Area covered by the Blindside Flanker.
Blood Bin – if a player’s injury is bleeding they may be replaced on the pitch for up to 15minutes while they receive treatment to stop the bleeding. This is a replacement and not a substitution.
Box kick – when scrum-half (no 9) takes the ball from the back of the scrum and kicks into the empty area of the field behind the opposition with the aim of his team to chase and regain possession.
Breakdown – period between a tackle and the rugby ball becoming available for play again.
What is rugby? C
Caution – see Yellow card.
Centre – name of the rugby positions for players 12 & 13.
Charge Down – when an opposition player blocks the ball from a kick.
Chip Kick – a short kick over the opposing team’s defensive line which the player hopes he or one of his team mates will catch so possession is retained and ground gained.
Clearance Kick – a team will kick the ball into touch (out of play) to relieve pressure when under attack from the opposition.
Conversion – the kick between the posts worth 2 points which follows a try.
What is rugby? D
Drop Goal – 3 points are awarded if a team kicks the ball between the posts from open play. The ball must be dropped, hit the ground and then be kicked to count. This is known as a drop kick.
Dummy – when a player gestures as if to pass to a team mate to draw an opponent into marking that team mate, but instead retains the ball and runs into the space created.
What is rugby? E
Eight man – player position number 8 most commonly used in North America
What is rugby? F
Feed – term given to the scrum half putting the ball into the scrum.
Forward Pass – the ball must be passed to a player behind the ball carrier. If the referee deems the ball to have been passed forward then a scrum or penalty is awarded to the opposing team.
Flankers – player positions 6 & 7 third row of the scrum with openside and blindside roles.
Fly-half – player position number 10, a key tactician on the field and usually the goal kicker.
Forwards – group name for player positions number 1-8 who form the scrums and lineouts and are involved in the rucks and mauls.
Free Kick – unopposed kick given to a team whose opponents have committed a minor penalty.
Front Five – or Tight Five, name given to player positions 1-5 which form the front two rows of the scrum.
Front Row – name given to player positions numbers 1, 2 &3 which form the front row of the scrum.
Fullback – player position number 15 is the last line of defence. Tasked with receiving high kicks they often perform kicking duties for the team.
What is rugby? G
Garryowen – see Up and Under.
Grubber – kick which causes the ball to bounce and roll on the field making it difficult to catch.
What is rugby? H
Half-back – or Scrum-half, player position number 9 who puts the ball into the scrum and feeds it out at the base of scrums or in open play from rucks and mauls.
Hand-off – when a player carrying the ball pushes an opponent away preventing a tackle.
High Ball – kick which is difficult to catch as the ball goes high in the air allowing players to get into position to tackle the catcher.
High tackle – a tackle is deemed to be high when it is above the line of the shoulders of the player with the ball. This dangerous, potentially lethal action and a penalty or yellow or red card may be awarded to reflect the severity.
Hooker – player position number 2 throws in the ball to the line out. Also the player in the middle of the front row of the scrum who indicates when the ball is to be fed in and who is responsible for ‘hooking’ the ball with their foot to get possession and pass it back to the players at the base of the scrum so it can be fed out.
Hospital Pass – a pass to a team mate just before he is tackled hard by a defending player(s) which may cause an injury.
What is rugby? J = Jumper. Scotland Team explain how to jump in the lineout.
What is rugby? J
Jumper – player in a lineout who jumps to catch or intercept the throw.
What is rugby? K
Kick off – drop kick which starts the game made from the center of the field which must cross the 10m line of the opposition.
Knock On – if the ball is dropped or goes forward the game is stopped and the opposing team are awarded a put in at the scrum.
What is rugby? L
Late tackle – illegal tackle on a player after they have kicked or passed the ball.
Lifting – term given to lifting a team mate in lineout to catch or intercept the ball.
Lineout – one of the set-piece restarts of the game which is awarded when the ball goes into touch. The two teams’ forwards line up opposite each other and the hooker throws the ball down the middle of the two rows with the hope that his team retains the ball.
Lock – player positions number 4&5 forming the second row of the scrum and are commonly the targets in the lineouts.
Loose Forwards – common names for the flankers and No. 8 in a forward pack.
Loose Head – player position number 1 on the left side of the front row of the scrum. Known as ‘loose’ as only one side of his head is bound in the scrum by the opponent.
What is rugby? M
Mark – spot where the game will restart either indicated by the referee after a rule infringement. A player can also call ‘mark’ within their own 22 meter line if they catch the ball cleanly from an opponent’s kick.
Maul – formed when the player with the ball is held up but doesn’t go to ground and team mates and opponents gather to push for advantage.
What is rugby? N
Number 8 – player position number 8 takes the position at the base of the scrum.
What is rugby? O
Obstruction – penalty is awarded when a player blocks or obstructs an opponent try to make a tackle on the ball carrier.
Off load – pass made just before a tackled player hits the ground.
Offside – when a defending player finds themselves on the wrong side of the line of attack. A penalty can be awarded if the player does not attempt to get back on side or interfere with play.
Openside – the side furthest from the touchline from a set piece, ruck or maul. Area covered by the Openside Flanker.
What is rugby? P
Pack – group name for the forward players (numbers 1-9)
Penalty – when a team breaks the rules of the game the opposing team can be awarded a penalty in the form of a scrum, kick, tap and run or lineout depending on the context of the rule break.
Penalty Kick – if a team takes the option of a place kick as their penalty they get 3 points for kicks which go between the posts.
Penalty Try – awarded where an opposing teams actions are deemed to have been illegal and to have prevented a try.
Phase – time of play between breakdowns. No limit on the number of phases a team can retain the ball for.
Place Kick – when the ball is kicked from the ground (pile of sand or kicking tee) to start the half, kick conversions or penalty kicks.
Prop – player positions number 1&3. Support the hooker in the scrum and the jumpers in the lineout.
Punt – when ball is dropped from the hand and kicked without touching the ground.
Pushover Try – scored when the forward pack push their opposing pack across the try line with the ball in the scrum and a player touches it down.
What is rugby? R
Red Card – signifies a player being sent off the field of play for dangerous play or serious infringement of the rules. It may also be awarded after two Yellow Card offences.
Ruck – similar to a maul, a ruck occurs when the players of opposing teams contest the ball on the ground.
What is rugby? S
Scrum – set-piece restart awarded after a knock on or other infringement. The two forward packs bind as a group of eight then after the referee has taken them through the steps ‘Crouch, touch, pause, engage’ the two packs push against each other. The scrum-half then feeds the ball in and the hooker guides the ball to the back where it can be fed out by the scrum half or the pack can chose to drive the scrum and the ball across the line if field position makes this an option.
Scrum-half – or Half back, player position number 9 who puts the ball into the scrum and feeds it out at the base of scrums or in open play from rucks and mauls.
Scrummaging – describes the process of the scrum from formation to completion of the set-piece move.
Sin Bin – the name given to where players with a Yellow Card must sit out their 10 minute suspension form the game.
Spear Tackle – describes when a player is lifted off the ground by the opponent and turned, then have their head, neck or shoulder driven into the ground. Red cards are usually awarded for this dangerous play but bans may also be handed out after a match.
What is rugby? T
Take – good catch from a kicked ball.
Tap Tackle – see Ankle Tap.
Tap Penalty – or tap kick is when a player awarded a penalty kicks and catches the ball himself to restart play quickly catching his opponents off guard.
Tight Five – or Front Five, name given to player positions 1-5 which form the front two rows of the scrum
Tight head – player position number 3 is on the front row of the scrum and is called the ‘tight’ head as the player’s head is fully within the bind of the scrum, between two opposition players.
TMO – when referees need clarification in televised matches they can call on the TMO (television match official) to review the footage and make a ruling.
Touchline – lines that run the length of the pitch and mark the edge of the playing area. When a ball touches or crosses the line it is said to have gone ‘into touch’ and is outside the field of play.
Touch judge – runs the touchline to see where ball goes out of play and call attention to incidents the referee may miss. Also stands underneath the posts to judge whether kicks have gone between the uprights.
Try – highest scoring option with 5 points is awarded when the ball crosses the try line either in hand or kicked and is touched down by a player. If the player is deemed not to be in control of the ball the try will not be awarded.
Try line – goal line which runs the width of the field.
Turnover – when the opposing team win the ball from the breakdown or during open play, e.g. intercepted pass.
22 Metre Drop Out – see Drop Out.
What is rugby? U
Up and Under – or Garryowen is a short high kick which puts pressure on the opposing player to catch it while the kicking team run to regain possession.
What is rugby? W = winger. Wales Winger Shane Williams used his blistering pace and rugby brain to good effect for club and country.
What is rugby? W
Wing – player positions number 11 & 14
What is rugby? Y
Yellow card – a player who has persistently broken the rules or dangerous play can be shown a yellow card by the referee. The player then has to leave the field and sit in the Sin Bin for 10 minutes before returning to the game.
So what is rugby? Its fast, furious and fun – give it a try!