Erin has taught English and History. She has a bachelor's degree in History, and a master's degree in International Relations
Rugby is an exciting game in which you try to throw a ball to your teammates and advance down the field to score a drop goal or a try. But watch out because the other team is ready and eager to tackle you hard to the ground. Rugby shares some similarities with American football. The ball looks a bit like a fatter version of an American football, and both sports are very physical. But rugby has continuous running play and tackling. Plus, you can't pass the ball forward!
Back in 1823 in Great Britain, a 16-year-old named William Webb Ellis was playing soccer at Rugby School and decided to pick the ball up and run with it. That's the legend anyway, and ever since then, the sport has been called rugby after the school. The trophy won at the Rugby World Cup is called the Web Ellis Cup in honor of the sport's founder.
The Rugby Football Union was founded in 1871 in London. Rugby is still especially popular in British Commonwealth countries such as Scotland, Australia, and New Zealand. The sport, however, is gaining popularity around the world. In fact, there have been major gains in the popularity of women's rugby around the world. About 40% of rugby players in the United States are women.
For a long time, the only type of rugby was what is now known as rugby union. But the players had to remain amateurs and could not be paid. This became a real financial burden for players who had to forgo work and wages to play for their national side. Eventually, rugby league was born in 1895 with the Northern Union of England, a collection of rugby unioners who wanted to be paid. Now rugby league is a thriving and separate code of rugby.
Rugby was played in some of the first Olympic games but then dropped. In 2016, rugby sevens made its Olympic debut in Rio. Rugby sevens is a code played with seven players per side and two seven-minute halves. It's fast-paced and high-scoring.
Rules and Important Plays
At first, rugby didn't have too many rules, and it wasn't until 1845 that a few players decided to write them down. The most fundamental rule is the offside rule. No offensive player can be in front of the ball. Remember, no forward passes! It's all lateral and backward passes.
In rugby, you score a try. A try is worth five points. You score a try by a literal touchdown, getting across the end line and grounding the ball. Lots of times you'll see players sliding head first to put the ball over the line on the ground.
You can score an extra two points with a conversion kick through the goalposts after the try.
You can also win three points during the run of play if you earn a penalty kick, which is a set piece like the conversion kick, or a drop goal through the goalposts when you drop the ball to the ground in the run of play and kick it through the goalposts.
Originally, there were so few rules about tackling that strangling was a common way to bring down your opponent! Even though it has always been a rough and tumble sport, teams didn't use substitutes for the first 130 years. Players used to carry on playing with broken bones and bloody faces -- and some still do!
Nowadays, you cannot tackle someone above the shoulders. Once a player has been tackled and brought down, both players need to get up. The tackler gets up and moves back, and the ball carrier gets to set the ball down or pass to a teammate.
A scrum happens when the ball needs to be restarted if, for example, someone is caught offside. Eight players from each team get to join the scrum. On the referee's whistle, they engage and grab one another, and it's like a big shoving match until someone is able to hook the ball with his foot and pass it back to his teammate.
A lineout happens when the ball goes out of bounds. Both teams line up their forwards across from one another in a line. The hooker throws the ball up in the air back onto the field between the two lines of forwards. The two sides then try to raise up players to catch the ball and win possession.
When someone loses control of the ball, the players scramble and lock into place pushing against one another to try to win possession kind of like a scrum. Nobody is allowed to touch the ball until it rolls out of the ruck.
A standing ruck.
Different numbers of players play each of the three codes. Rugby union has 15 on the field, rugby league has 13, and rugby sevens has ... well, you know. Therefore, the positions vary among the codes, but all players must be able to run, tackle, pass, kick, and catch.
The positions are divided between the forwards and the backs on the field.
Hooker: Wins the ball in scrums, and throws the ball in from lineouts.
Prop: Anchors the scrum and literally props players up if they leap up to catch a ball.
Flanker: Big tackler.
Lock: Wins the ball from lineouts.
Number 8: A leader and connection between the forwards and backs.
Wing: Fast and expected to run to score tries.
Scrum Half: A connection between forwards and backs.
Fly Half: Executes the run, pass, or kick plays.
Centre: Big time tackler.
Full Back: The last line of defense.
Rugby is a physical sport like American Football but with continuous play and no forward passes allowed. It began at Rugby School in 1823 when William Webb Ellis picked up a football and started running. Today there are three different codes of rugby that are popular, rugby union, rugby league, and rugby sevens. You can score a try, or a kick for a conversion or drop goal. Players play either forward or back positions, and they take part in scrums, rucks, and lineouts in the run of the game.
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