Why did the whistle blow?

Offside Player: Is offside when in front of the player carrying the ball. No blocking allowed in rugby.

Forward pass: Only lateral and backward passes are allowed in rugby. If the ball is passed forward a scrum will be awarded to the non-offending team.

Knock-On: A knock-on is when a player fumbles the ball forward. The non-infringing team is awarded a scrum.

Failure to release player/ball: After a tackle, the tackler must immediately release the ball carrier and the ball carrier must immediately release the ball. If either of these does not occur within a reasonable time a penalty is rewarded to the non-infringing team.

What is a ruck?

A ‘ruck’ is what occurs after a player has been tackled. Both teams will compete for the ball by driving the other team away from the ball, allowing their players to pick it up out of the back and continue play. No, this is not just chaos, there are laws in the ruck!

Illegal action in the ruck: All players must join a ruck from their own side of the ball, through what is called a ‘gate’. They should not join the pile from the side, only the back. A penalty will be called if done incorrectly. If the ball becomes unplayable in a ruck and neither team is at fault, a scrum will be awarded to the team in possession of the ball prior to the ruck.


A scrum restarts play after a minor infringement like a knock on. It consists of eight players from each team (known as the pack) that bind together in three rows and interlock with the opposite team’s pack. The ball is then fed into the gap between the two forward packs. The packs then begin push against each other while the ‘Hooker’ tries to hook the ball back with their feet. Use of hands is not allowed inside the scrum.


A lineout restarts play after the ball has gone out of bounds. Players from each team line up in two lines that are parallel to the goal line and approximately one meter apart from each other. A player from the team not responsible for the ball going into touch then throws the ball between the lines. A player from each team is lifted up in order to catch the ball.

During the game

The goal of the game is to advance the ball forward through running, passing and kicking to carry the ball into your opponents ‘try zone’ and ground the ball for a ‘try’ (like a touchdown). The defense will use strategy, tackling and competing for the ball to prevent this from happening and try to recover possession of the ball.

Play to the whistle: Although resembling a bit of chaos, rugby is governed by a set of ‘Laws’, not rules, so the referee may interpret each situation a little differently according to circumstances.