A brief synopsis of the terms commonly used in rugby. For all the rules of the game, visit USA Rugby’s website.
Advantage: Advantage is the continuation of play following an infringement by one team during play which is followed by the opposition gaining an advantage, either by improving position on the field, or being in possession of the ball.
Binding: Binding is where a player wraps either one arm or both around a player on the same side to form a tight connection between them. Correct binding is very important in the scrum.
Conversions: A conversion is the attempt made by the try scoring team to kick the ball over the cross-bar to gain another two (2) points. It may be taken from any point on the field which is directly in front of the place that the try was scored.
Cross Bar: The horizontal bar of the Goal Post.
Dead Ball: A dead ball is when the ball or the player carrying the ball, goes out of bounds (example: dead ball line, touch-lines). If the referee stops play, the ball is also dead.
Drop Kick: A drop-kick is when a player intentionally drops the ball from his hands, and kicks it the moment it bounces off the ground.
Fair Catch: A fair catch is when a player cleanly catches the ball from a kick by one of the opponents and at the same time shouts “MARK!”. The player must have at least one foot on the ground within his own twenty-two or in-goal area. A free-kick is awarded at that point on the field, however is entirely at the digression of the referee.
Free-Kick: A free-kick is awarded for a fair catch, or to the non-offending team following a minor infringement of the rules. Goals may not be scored directly from a free kick.
Gain Line: The gain line is an imaginary line across the field at the point the ball became dead. The center of a scrum , a line out, a maul, etc. are gain lines.
Goal: A goal is awarded for drop-kicking the ball over the opponents goal-post during play, or placekicking it through following a penalty.
Goal Line: The line which defines the end of the regular field of play and the goal area.
Goal Post: The uprights positioned at the center of the goal-line at each end of the field.
Grounding: Grounding is the action of applying downward pressure on the ball with the hands, arms, or the front upper part of the body. This can occur either by scoring a try or following a tackle in the field of play. Picking the ball up does not constitute grounding.
In-Goal: The ‘in-goal’ is the area at each end of the field between the goal-lines and the dead ball lines.
Kick-Off: A kick-off is a place kick taken at the center of the field to start the game, and is repeated to begin the second half of the game.
Knock-On: A ‘knock-on’ occurs when a player miss-handles the ball while attempting to catch a kick or pass, or otherwise miss-handles the ball, and it lands on, or touches the ground in front of the player, prior to his gaining control of it.
Line-Out: A line-out is the method to re-start play when the ball goes off the field and into touch, by contacting or crossing over the Touch-Line. A line-out is usually formed by seven players from each team, who line up in two parallel lines, and at right angles to the Touch-Line. The ball is thrown in by the team which did not last contact the ball.
Maul: A maul occurs when a player manages to stay on their feet when tackled, and the ball is held away from the opposition and is transferred with a handling movement to a support player.
Off-Side: Off-side is the most complex law in rugby. Generally, off-side is when a player is in front of the ball in open play, or in front of the hind most foot of the last man in a scrum, ruck or maul. Off-side becomes more complex in line-outs or when kicking. A penalty can occur if a player is off-side.
Pack: The pack is the group of eight players (player numbers 1 through 8) who form the scrum. It consists of the front row players (tight head prop #1, a hooker #2, and the loose head prop #3), the second row players (tight head lock forward #4, and loose head lock forward #5), and three back row forwards (two flankers also known as wing forwards, or loose forwards, #’s 6 & 7 , and an 8-man #8).
Penalty Kick: A penalty kick is awarded to the non-offending team after a breach of the rules, usually for dangerous play.
Place Kick: A place kick is when the ball is placed on the ground before being kicked. This kick is used to start the game, for conversions, and for penalty kicks for goal.
Punt: A punt is similar to a drop-kick, except that it does not have to bounce off the ground before kicking. Punts cannot be used to score points through the goalpost.
Ruck: A ruck is formed anywhere on the field when the ball is on the ground and one or more players from each team, on their feet and in physical contact, close around the ball between them.
Scrum: A scrum is the method used to re-start the game after the play has been stopped because a rule has been broken. The scrum is formed by at least five players from each side (usually eight players) binding together with their arms, in rows, and pushing against the other team with their shoulders. The ball is put into play by rolling or tossing it into the tunnel between the two teams.
Tackle: A tackle is the act of grabbing the player with the ball so that they are brought down to the ground.
Tap-Penalty: A tap-penalty is a penalty kick in which the ball is tapped with the foot, then picked up and passed to another teammate. This is generally how play is restarted after a penalty.
Touch: Touch is when the ball contacts or passes over the Touch-Line, or the player carrying it touches or steps out of bounds.
Touch-Line: The lines that run the length of the field and define the edge of the field of play.
Try: A try is scored when a player correctly grounds the ball on or behind the oppositions goal line.
Tunnel: The tunnel is the space formed between the legs of the two opposing front rows of the scrum.
Twenty-Two Meter Line: A line marked on each end of the field twenty two meters from the goal-line running across the width of the field.
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