Basic Rugby Terminology


Laws: The rules of rugby. For actual rugby laws click here: Rugby Union Laws



The Pitch: A field of grass on which rugby is played.  The touch lines are not part of the playing area.


Touch: The ball is “in touch” if it or the player carrying it crosses the touchline (out of bounds).  Remember the lines marking

touch (out of bounds) are not part of the playing surface, so all a player needs to do is touch the white line marking the

boundaries and he is considered being “in touch”.


Touch Judges: Two judges that indicate where the ball went into touch and who will throw the ball in.  They also judge kicks

at goal. Their decision is indicated with a flag.


Kickoff: Play begins with a place kick from the center spot on the pitch.  After each score the opposition drop kicks the ball from the halfway line.  Opponents must be behind their 10 meter line which the ball must cross unless first touched by an opponent.  If the ball goes into touch without bouncing, opponents have the choice of asking for the kick to be re-taken or a scum on the center spot.


22 Meter Drop-out: If the ball goes into touch in the in-goal, over the dead ball line or after some touchdowns, defenders restart the game with a dropkick on or behind the 22 meter line.  If the ball does not cross the 22 meter line the opposition may choose to retake the kick or have a scrimmage.  If the ball goes directly into touch without bouncing the opposition the opposition may accept it.  Two opposing players are allowed to charge and attempt to block the dropout.


Scrummage: Formed at or near the point of infringement of the laws by the interlocking of at least

3 players in the front row parallel to the goal lines with a clear tunnel between the two teams. All

other forwards must bind with at least one armor be behind the rear foot of the pack. The scrum

should hold steady until the ball is put into the tunnel by the non-offending teams scrum-half.

The Hookers then strike for possession of the ball.  The front row may not raise their feet until the

ball hits the ground.  All players may play the ball but must always have one foot on the ground. 

If the ball goes through the tunnel, it must be put in again.  Players must use their feet and not

handle the ball until it leaves the scrum.


Ruck: When one or more players from each team bind over a loose ball in free play.  Players heel the ball backwards in a similar manner to the scrimmage; however, there are no set positions.  It is illegal to jump on other players, cause the ruck to collapse or prevent the exit of the ball.


Maul: When one or more players from each team bind around a player who is carrying the ball in free play.  A Maul ends in a ruck if the ball becomes loose, in a scrimmage if the ball is unplayable or when a player with the ball frees himself.



Lineout: Formed when the ball has gone into touch.  The ball goes to the opposing team of the last person

to touch it.  To continue play the ball is thrown in perpendicular to the point it went into touch between

players of both teams who line up to receive the ball.  A minimum of two players from each side are required

to form a lineout and a team that throws the ball in sets the length of the line.



Advantage: Play does not stop if a tactical or territorial advantage from an infraction occurs for the non-offending team.  There is no advantage on kickoffs, incorrect dropouts, when the ball goes through the tunnel or when the referee creates an advantage by touching the ball or player carrying it.  In these circumstances a scrimmage should be awarded to the last team to play the ball.


Free Kick: Awarded for scrum infractions.  The team may not go for goal or kick for touch.


Penalty: Awarded for infractions during free play.  The team may go for goal or kick for touch.