men's rugby team

Understanding Rugby Union Rules

Understanding the rules of rugby union will help you to get involved this year during the Rugby World Cup. We break down the key rules in this guide.

Rugby Union is a highly competitive sport that requires a good understanding of its rules and regulations to be played effectively. If you're new to Rugby Union, it may seem daunting to understand all the rules of the game, but not to worry, in this blog, we'll break down the essential rules of Rugby Union to help you better understand this exciting sport.

two men posing with a rugby ball

The objective of the Game

We’ll start off with the objective of Rugby Union. Like most sports, the main objective is to score more points than the opposing team. In Rugby Union, this is done by carrying, passing or kicking the ball over the opposing team's try line or by kicking the ball through the opposing team's goalposts.

A major part of successfully enjoying any sport is having the right gear and equipment, so make sure you're kitted and ready with the appropriate gear if you're planning on getting stuck in all the rugby action.

two men playing rugby


There are several ways to score points in Rugby Union. The most common methods are:

Try: A try is scored when a player places the ball on the ground over the opposing team's try line. This is worth 5 points.

Conversion: After a try has been scored, the team that scored the try can attempt a conversion kick. This is worth 2 points and is taken from a spot in line with where the try was scored.

Penalty kick: If a team commits a penalty, the opposing team can attempt a penalty kick. This is worth 3 points and can be taken from anywhere on the field.

Drop goal: A drop goal is scored when a player kicks the ball through the opposing team's goalposts during open play. This is worth 3 points.

man running with a rugby ball

What are the 5 Main Rules of Rugby Union?

Let’s explore some of the basic rules of Rugby Union:

1) pass: Unlike other ball games like American football, players are not allowed to pass the ball forward in Rugby Union. The ball must be passed backwards or sideways.

2) Knock-on: If a player drops the ball forward or knocks it forward with their hand, it's considered a knock-on and a scrum is awarded to the opposing team.

3) Offside: Players must remain behind the ball at all times. If a player is in front of the ball when a teammate kicks it, they are considered offside.

4) Tackling: Players are allowed to tackle the ball carrier by grabbing and pulling them to the ground. However, tackles must be made below the shoulders and without lifting the player off the ground.

5) Ruck and maul: A ruck or maul is formed when a player is tackled. In a ruck, players from both teams must stay on their feet and attempt to win possession of the ball. In a maul, the ball carrier is held up by opposing players, and teammates bind onto them to form a maul.

a selection of images of women playing rugby

Get Involved!

Understanding the rules of the Rugby Union is essential for playing and enjoying the sport. While the game has many regulations, these basic rules provide a good starting point for learning and appreciating this action-packed sport.

Check out our wide selection of rugby gear for all levels and ages below.

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