The Basics

The game of rugby is played by two opposing teams of 15 players, contesting for possession of the game ball.  Control of the ball is required in order for a player to score points.  The team with the ball attempts to work their way up the field to cross the line of opposing teams’ in-goal area and touch the ball to the ground, known as a “try”.  Game play involves passing, kicking and running with a ball.

There are five ways to score points in a game of rugby: a try (similar to a touchdown in NFL), a conversion (a bonus kick after a try for an additional points), a drop goal, a penalty kick and a penalty try.

Touching the ball on the try line or in-goal area by hand is called a try and scores 5 points.  After scoring a try, the team then has a shot kicking for goal, adding 2 points if successful (called a “conversion”).  The game then restarts with the opposing team kicking the ball down the field to the try scoring team.  These return kicks can however be kicked high and, if successfully re-gathered, win back ball possession for the kicking team.

A successful drop goal earns 3 points and occurs in the middle of game play.  Its closest equivalent in American football would be the field goal.

Additionally, 3 points can be won by successfully kicking a goal after the referee awards that team a penalty with the opportunity for a kick.

Rarely, a referee can award a team a penalty try (an instant 5 points with opportunity to convert 2 more points) if the opposing team has, through misconduct, prevented what would have almost undoubtedly been a try.

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