Rugby football, or rugby, was created at Rugby School, England in 1837. Immigrants brought rugby to the United States where the sport was quite popular until the turn of the century when its step-child, grid iron football, became more popular.
Rugby is second only to soccer as the world's most popular sport. It is played in over 100 countries. Until 1996, it remained as an amateur team sport. In the past 30 years, rugby has seen a resurgence of popularity in the United States. Nationwide, there are over 1,200 rugby clubs and it is the number one collegiate club sport.
The actions and skills of rugby are similar to several familiar sports. Rugby has the contact of American football, the running of soccer, and the continuous play of basketball. A rugby team consists of 8 forwards and 7 backs.
Contact, while vigorous, is less dangerous than American football since neither blocking or rigid protective equipment is allowed. Dangerous or dirty play is not tolerated. Offending players may be ordered from the field or suspended by their club or local league.
At the game's end, the teams applaud each other and the referee overseeing the game. Competition remains on the field; opposing teams often socialize after the game. Rugby places as much importance on sportsmanship and camaraderie as on winning.
The ball, oval and slightly larger than an American football, is carried, passed and kicked to score points.
The object of rugby football, as stated in the rugby "laws," or rules, is for "two teams of fifteen players each, observing fair play and in sporting spirit, should be carrying, passing, and kicking the ball to score as many points as possible." Games are played during two halves of forty minutes each with a five minute half-time.
Play is continuous. After a tackle, the whistle does not blow and the action does not stop. The ball carrier is obligated to return the ball to play either by immediately passing the ball to another player or releasing the ball, allowing a player to gain possession.
-Try (5 Points): A "try" is similar to an American football touchdown. The ball must be touched down to the ground in order to score.
-Conversion Kicks (2 Points): Conversion kicks are taken anywhere on a line perpendicular to where the try was scored and are successful if the ball passes between the uprights.
-Drop Kicks and Penalty Kicks (3 Points): Drop kicks can be taken any time during play. A penalty kick is awarded to the opposing team if a serious infraction occurs. The kick is taken from the point of infraction. In both cases, the kick scores if the ball splits the uprights.
The rugby field is 75 x 110 yards, which is larger than the American football field of 55 1/3 x 100 yards.
The ball can only be passed backward or laterally; it is never passed forward.
Stopping and Restarting Play:
Play stops for rule infractions, when the ball is kicked or thrown from the field, or when a ball carrier runs or is tackled "in-touch" (out-of-bounds). Play also stops when a team scores. Play resumes with a scrum, a lineout, or a kick.
A scrum is a curious-looking human shoving formation. The 8 forwards of each team bind together. When the ball is tossed into the tunnel each team attempts to "hook" the ball using only their feet. No hands are allowed in a scrum.
Similar to a jump ball in basketball, opposing forwards line up and contest for the ball between them.
Play can restart with a place kick, a drop kick, or a punt.
The ball is "in touch" when it is out of bounds.
This looks like a stand-up tackle, where the ball carrier is in contact with players from both teams.
A ruck forms when the ball is on the ground and no team can gain possession. Opponents in contact with each other can only use their feet to win the ball.
This fast-paced game consists of seven players per team and is used in summer rugby tournaments. Seven minute halves are played on a full sized field.