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Rugby is a contact sport that has been around since the 1800s but only recently became part of the Olympic Games. The full name of the sport is the Rugby Union, but everyone calls it rugby in short. Both men and women teams compete in the sports, and there are World Cup competitions for both genders.

Rugby is a full-contact sport whose full name is Rugby Union. There are over 9.6M registered ruby players worldwide. The sport started in England and spread to the rest of the world over time. It is a popular sport worldwide played by male and female players. The most popular form of rugby is rugby football, but there are other variations of the sport.

The highest governing body for rugby is World Rugby (WR), previously called International Rugby Football Board (IRFB). It was founded in 1886, and the headquarters are in Dublin, Ireland. Six regional associations act as the governing bodies under the WR, and they are:

  • Rugby Africa

  • Sudamerica Rugby

  • Oceania Rugby

  • Asia Rugby

  • Rugby Americas North

  • Rugby Europe

Under the six associations are the national rugby unions for countries that are members of World Rugby. WR is responsible for organizing Rugby World Cup, Women's Rugby World Cup, Rugby World Cup Sevens, and other international rugby competitions. The governing body also decides where each event will occur except for the Sevens World Series for men and women.

History of Rugby

The earliest form of rugby can be traced back to 1823 in Warwickshire, when a student called William Webb Ellis picked up the ball and ran with it. It was an incident that would make history after people witnessed it in English school football. Rugby evolved over the years from that incidence, but the basics are still the same.

Rugby School made rules for the sport in 1845, and Cambridge drew up rules in 1848. Some students from Rugby School had formed the first football team in Cambridge University at the time. The Football Association (FA) was the first national governing body formed in 1863, and it made universal football rules. Its rules were different and prevented the use of unscrupulous methods to win, which lead to some clubs leaving the association.

The clubs that left FA were the first to form the Rugby Football Union in 1871. The FA rules were known as the "association football," while the Rugby Football Union (RFU) rules were known as the “rugby football.” A major distinction between the rules is that rugby football allowed players to pick the ball and run with it to the goal post.

A match between Scotland and England in Edinburgh on 27 March 1871 was the first of many international rugby football games. Wales and Ireland joined in the Home Nations

Championship, the first international competition, in 1883. Also, the first Rugby Sevens was in 1883, and it is still held annually.

In 1888, tours to Australia and New Zealand laid the foundation of rugby in both countries. The tours were long enough to allow the British teams to teach other teams the rules of rugby. Tours became popular in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, increasing the sport's popularity. There was an issue of reimbursement for time players list at work, and most clubs resigned from the RFU in 1895. The clubs that remained formed the Rugby Union.

New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa sent teams to the northern hemisphere for a tour between 1905 and 1908. The game evolved significantly during the early 20th century, and France played against England in 1905.

New Zealand and Australia hosted the first Rugby World Cup in 1987, and the first World Cup Sevens was in 1993. Rugby Sevens was part of the Commonwealth Games for the first time in 1998. Rugby became part of the Olympic Games in 2016 for both men's and women's Sevens.

Rules of Rugby

A few rules govern the game to ensure that it is clean and prevent players' occurrence. Since it is a contact game, there are rules about the moves players can make on the game. Breaking any of the game rules leads to penalization or suspension of a player for serious offenses.


The winning team is the one that accumulates the most points during a game through the various ways of scoring. A team gets 5 points when a player grounds the ball in the in-goal area. Kicking the ball through the goalposts earns a team 2 points, while successful penalty kicks and drop goals earn a team 3 points.


A ball can only be passed backward or sideways, but never forward. A player can kick the ball into the hands of a player as a way to gain territory. Another way of advancing the ball is by tackling the player with the ball and taking it. Therefore, players with the ball must run fast to advance the ball and avoid being tackled.


Tackling is done by wrapping hands around a player who has the ball and attempting to bring them to the ground. Players cannot push, charge, or trip a player with a ball as part of a tackle. Players cannot tackle other players above their shoulder or mid-air when catching a ball.


A ruck is when three opponent players bind themselves in an attempt to secure the ball. Mauling is when an opponent tries to take a ball from the other player when standing. An extra player from either team can help secure the ball for their team. Maximum players in a mauling are three.


Games begin with a referee tossing a coin with the two captains to determine which team kicks off. A game has two parts that run for 40 minutes, each with a 15-minute break. The game ends when the ball is "dead," even when the 80 minutes of the game have elapsed. Time off for injuries or disciplinary actions is not part of the 80 minutes, and most games run longer because of the unpredictable stoppages. An extra 5-minute is awarded to each team when the scores are tied at the match's end. After that, a 20-minute round of sudden death determines the winner.


Some Rugby offenses include not releasing the ball after collapsing a scrum, ruck, or maul when on the ground, being offside, or tackling above the shoulders. Repeat offenses in a game can result in a temporary suspension from the game.


The field's length should be 94-100 meters, while the field's width is 68-70 meters. There is a parameter area that should not be less than 5m wide around the playing area. The field is demarcated with continuous lines that are as follows:

  • Dead-ball and touch-in-line goal lines

  • Goal lines

  • 22-meter lines

  • Halfway line

  • Touchlines.

Goalposts are the shape of an H, and a goal occurs when a ball passes above the middle bar. There are 14 flag posts on the field, and they are distributed over the lines on the field. All fields must have safe surfacings like grass, artificial tuff, or clay. The field must comply with the WR recommendations.


Crucial equipment for rugby is the ball, which is oval with four panels. According to WR, the ball's dimensions are a length of 11-12 inches, a circumference width of 23-23 inches, and a circumference length of 29-30 inches.

Players need the following equipment in a game.

  • Rugby shirt (jersey)

  • Rugby shorts

  • Socks

  • Boots with studs (without ridges or sharp edges)

  • Mouthguards – optional

  • Headgear (less than 10mm thick) – optional

  • Non-rigid shoulder pads – optional

  • Shin guards under socks – optional

  • Bandages for support or injuries

  • Chest pads for female players – optional

Match officials should inspect equipment and uniforms before a game to ensure compliance.


The game has three officials, a referee, and two assistant referees. All referees are referred to as 'Sir,' and they are responsible for ensuring that the game runs smoothly. High-level games have an additional referee called the Television Match Official. The additional referee assists in decision-making throughout the game.

Referees have the following responsibilities in a game.

  • Keeping time

  • Watching for foul play

  • Disciplining offenses

  • Making decisions on unique situations.

  • Checking offside lines

  • Determining kick-offs

  • Indicating the start and end of a game.

If offenses happen during a game and a referee misses it, a citing commissioner brings them to light after the game, and the player is punished.

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