Rugby terminology you need to know


Ever start watching a new sport and get confused by the rules, rule names and and terms they use?  That’s because every sport has it’s own terminology, just like every country has a language or accent.

One such sport that can cause a lot of confusion to new fans is Rugby, the sport has a lot of unique rules, terminology, nick names and even descriptions.  The sport of Rugby is rising rapidly throughout the world and the 2019 Rugby World  up was the biggest ever with lot’s of new nations rising through the ranks of rugby.  There are now 30 rugby playing countries around the world with 20 of these qualifying for the 2019 World Cup which was one of the biggest sporting events globally

To help new fans to the game were going to help explain some of these rugby specific terms.  We’ll start with some of the most popular terminology you’ll hear while watching rugby.


While this is a word used in a lot of field sports, it’s important to know the meaning in rugby.  Sometimes, during a game, an infringement / breach or rules is committed where a stoppage in play would deprive the non-offending team of an opportunity to score.

Even though the rules state that the non-offending team should be awarded a penalty, free kick or scrum, they are given the opportunity to continue with open play and attempt to score a try.


The 22m line, marking 22 metres (72 ft) from the tryline.   You will hear this a lot in rugby games and there are rules around the ball landing within the 22.

Blood Bin

It is also called blood replacement.  When a player has a visible bleeding injury he or she may be replaced for up to fifteen minutes, during which they may receive first-aid treatment to stop the flow of blood and dress the wound. The player may then return to the pitch to continue playing.

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Box Kick

A kick taken from behind a scrum, normally by the scrum-half or out half, in which he turns away from the scrum facing the touchline, and kicks the ball back over the scrum into the clear box or area of space behind the opposing team,  to allow his own team to chase through and regain the ball in undefended territory.  A move more commonly used by Northern Hemisphere teams


The breakdown is the period of open play immediately after a tackle and before and during the ensuing ruck.  During this time teams compete for possession of the ball.  Most referees Because of the nature of this frantic and aggressive scramble to gain possession of the ball, most infringements take place at the breakdown.

Drop goal

A drop goal is scored when a player kicks the ball from hand through the opposition’s goal posts, but the ball must touch the ground between being dropped and kicked. A successful drop goal is worth three points. Some of the rugby greats use this move to seal wins in the dying minutes of games


Like a goal in football, this is the primary method of scoring in rugby.  A try is worth five points. It is scored when a player grounds the ball in the goal area between the goal-line and up to but not including dead ball line of the opposition’s half.

Set piece

The set piece is part of the foundations in rugby, it’s the collective term for the scrum, line-out and sometimes the restart.  These are some of the most commonly used terms you will hear in the rugby glossary.

Scrum – The eight forwards from each team bind together and push against each other. The scrum-half from the team that has been awarded possession feeds the ball into the centre of the scrum, both hookers will then contest for the ball when its passed int the scum feeding it to the back of their scrum then into the hands of the scrum half.

Line Out – The lineout is a means of restarting play after the ball has gone into touch or outside the field of play on the sidelines.   The lineout concentrates a selection of forwards  assembled in two lines, perpendicular to the touch line. The hooker throws the ball down the corridor between these two lines of players who who contest for the ball.

Six Nations

The six nations is an annual tournament between European teams – Italy, France, England, Scotland and Wales.  It takes place between February and March every year and if one team go unbeaten in the tournament, they with the Grand Slam.

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A ruck is formed if the ball is on the ground and one or more players from each team who are on their feet close around it. Players must not handle the ball in the ruck, and must use their feet to move the ball or drive over it so that it emerges at the team’s hindmost foot, at which point it can be picked up.

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Sin Bin

When a player is sent off for a yellow card, he or she must must remain in the “sin bin” for a minimum of ten minutes.

Rugby World Cup

The biggest event in world rugby happens every four years.  16 teams played in the tournament from the debut event in 1987 until 1995.  Since 1999, the tournament has expanded to 20 teams Japan hosted the 2019 Rugby World Cup and South Africa were crowned champions after beating England in the final.  The next World Cup will be hosted in France hosted in 2023.


This is video assisted refereeing, the  Television match official – TMO, will pass on his information to the pitch referee who will make the final decision.

Rugby country popular nick names

Wallabies – Australia

All Blacks – New Zealand

Springboks – South Africa

Pumas – Argentina

Japan – Brave Blossoms

The Eagles – USA

Les Bleus France

Azzurri – Italy

Hopefully the above will enlighten your next rugby union match : )

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