Rugby might seem, to an outsider, like a clever combination of soccer and football and in some ways that is true. The ball is handled manually in some plays and the ball is also kicked in some plays. The man carrying the ball can be taken down in a tackle although there are some very specific rules around tackling. The ball carrier may not be blocked and the man tackling must enclose the ball carrier in their arms.
The ball can only be passed from side to side but it can be advanced forward through running or kicking. An off side in rugby means that the player is ahead of a member of their team that is controlling the ball. They won’t be called on it if they don’t try to engage in the play, however.
The objective of the game is pass the opponent’s goal line and then touch the ball to the ground, all the while the other team is trying to take away the ball. The game starts with a kickoff and then the play begins with players running, tackling, passing, or kicking. You can do it all!! Each team has 15 players on the field with one more playing forward than back. You score by trying or kicking.
A try is when the player gets the opposition’s end zone and touches the ball to the ground and this is worth five points. An extra two points can be scored by then kicking the ball through the posts. Penalty kicks are awarded only if one team incurs a penalty. When this occurs the player may choose to kick them through the posts for three more points, the player can tap the ball and then run with it or they can kick it out of bounds
All of this might sound quite a bit like football without the brutality and here’s where we introduce something completely different. The scrum. This is something called a set play and the scrum is one of the one that is most commonly used. If there is a minor offense, 8 forwards will group themselves in a bind and the fronts attach to the opponents. The team that did not create the infraction brings the ball into play and the teams then try to move the ball with their feet to their teammates. There are a number of other set plays such as line or drop out but the scrum is a pretty visually unusual one.
In the loose play phase, tackling comes in to play. Tackled players have to relinquish they ball and they need team mate around to take a pass. That is where the support aspect plays a role. A ruck can be played through loose play and it resembles a scrum but is not quite the same. If the ball is on the ground, two players, one from each team, try to push the other over the ball and they can only use their feet to move the ball, as in the scrum.
An interesting rule employed in rugby is the advantage rule that allow continuous play even if there has been an infraction so that the team that did not break the rule does not have to stop play if it would hinder them in some way to do so. The referee will raise a hand, without blowing the whistle to end play. The team has an opportunity to then gain ground but if they do not do so rather quickly, the ref will call the offense and return to the area on the field where it occurred.