Rugby Football is the father of what we Americans know as Football.
Basketball founder James Naismith declared his first love the game of rugby.
Pope John Paul played rugby for Poland
Actor Boris Karloff founded the Southern California Rugby Football Union.
The United States won the Gold medal in the last two olympic games in which rugby was played, 1920 and 1924.
William Webb Ellis was the inventor of rugby in 1823, according to legend, on the playing fields of Rugby in England. The game is said to have been started when William Webb, a Rugby School student playing soccer picked up the ball and ran downfield with it instead of kicking it. Other English schools and universities adopted the style from Rugby in the mid-19th cent. In 1871 the English Rugby Union was formed to standardize the game, and the sport was soon organized in other sections of the British Isles.
The game was introduced (1874) into the United States when Harvard University faced off against Canada’s McGill University. Rugby is played in several forms, 7’s, 10’s and 15’s are the most common games all very similar with little change in the rules of the game. The terms 7’s, 10’s or 15’s refer to the number of players on a team. The Iowa Falls Rugby Club and most in the United States play the 15 player Union version of the Game. During the Summer months a 7’s version is played by primarily backfield players willing to endure the heat of the Summer months.
Over 1600 Rugby clubs are registered in the United States with USARFU, the United States of America Rugby Football Union. 411 Men’s, 412 Collegiate men’s, 99 Master’s, 82 Women’s, 272 Collegiate Women’s and 226 youth.
Most men’s clubs in the United States play a spring and fall season. Iowa Falls Rubgy Club schedules between 35 and 50 games per year. During the spring they will play in the All Iowa Tournament and the Okoboji Tournament in June. In the fall they play in a fall league comprising of Iowa and Minnesota teams.They also attend the Heart of America Tournament in Kansas City. This tournament attracts 50-60 of the top teams from across the United States. Last year the Iowa Falls RFC placed 2nd in the Men’s Division II bracket. Iowa Falls has been known since 1976 as a very competitive men’s club side with over 300 alumni learning the game in Iowa Falls. We have ties to teams from the east and west coast as well as alumni playing in Japan and other foreign countries. For more information on Iowa Falls rugby as well as links to other rugby sites look at www.ifrugby.com.
The success of Rugby is due to it’s appeal to many types of athletes. Large, small, fast, slow, young, not-so-young, male and female-anyone who wishes to play can find a position on a team at a level where their abilities will be tested.
The rugby field is roughly 160 yd (146 m) long and 75 yd (69 m) wide, with goal lines 110 yd (101 m) apart and two in-goals (corresponding to football’s end zones) 25 yd (23 m) deep. A halfway line (50) divides the field, which is further subdivided by other lines parallel to the goal lines at the 40 meter and 22 meter mark. The goal posts have measurements similar to those used in American football, and the ball, although larger and more rounded, is similar to the American football. Players may kick, carry, or pass (to the sides or to the rear) the ball; though tackling is permitted, blocking is forbidden. Unlike American football, play is almost continuous in rugby.
The game begins and resumes after halftime with a place kick that must go 10 meters. A team who is scored upon will kick-off using a drop kick that also must go 10 meters. The kick-off is actually thought of as an offensive play similar to a football onside kick. Play continues as the two teams carry, pass and kick the ball trying to score as many points as possible. Play will stop only for scoring, a penalty, rule infraction, the ball being carried, kicked or thrown to touch (out-of-bounds) or an injury. The ball is then put back into play by a line-out, scrum-down, free kick, penalty kick, penalty play or kick-off.
Various points are scored for carrying the ball into the opponent’s in-goal similar to a touchdown in football, refered to as a try worth 5 points. In order for a try to be considered good the player must pass the ball over the try-line, under control and touch the ball to the ground under control. Conversions (kicking the ball between the goal posts after a try) is worth 2 points and must be attempted directly out from where the try was scored. Drop kicks during normal play and penalty kicks are when the ball is kicked through the posts and are worth 3 points.
Terms: Prop, Hooker, 2nd Row, Wing Forward, 8 Man, Scrumhalf, Scrum, Scrumdown, Tight five, Pack, Bound in,
tunnel, Ruck, Maul, Knock On, 8 man pick, Balls Out.
Positions: 1 Loose Head Prop, 2 Hooker, 3 Tight Head Prop, 4-5 are 2nd rows, 6-7 are Wing forwards, 8 is the 8 Man, 9 is the Scrum Half, 10 is the Flyhalf, 11 is the Inside Center, 12 is the Outside Center, 13 is the Wing, 14 is the Weakside Wing and 15 is the Fullback.
Typical player position settings during a “scrum down” 123
The props (1,3)have a duty to support the hooker (2) and keep the scrumdown from collapsing during the driving. The hooker (2) has a duty of swinging his feet into the tunnel between the two opposing scrums in order to “hook” the ball into his scrum. The 2nd rows (4,5) are to supply the drive for the pack by pushing and extending their legs. The props, hooker and 2nd rows are bound tightly together by tightly gripping jerseys and shorts, these players are commonly referred to as the “tight five”The best tight fives will stay low to the ground and tight during the scrum down. The wing forwards, (6,7) are extra support and push during the scrum down and also are the first players to tackle the opposition when the ball is lost to the opposition. These players must stay “bound” (you must have 1 shoulder touching your own player to be considered bound) into the pack until the ball is removed from the scrum or a penalty will be given. The eight man (8) has the duty of finding the ball and holding it in place with his feet until the scrumhalf is ready to put the ball into play. The eight players in a scrum down are referred to as the “pack”.The “Scrumhalf”(9) is like a quarterback in football, he usually starts the offensive play by handling the ball. The backs are set up in a normal backfield set.
A Scrum down occurs when the referee determines a minor infraction on the field of play has occurred. For instance the ball not coming out of a “maul” ( a tackle made that stays in a standing position) or ruck (when a tackle is made and the players go to the ground) after a tackle is made, or the ball is knocked or fumbled forward during a pass, called a “Knock On” or a pass is made “forward”All passes in rugby must be a lateral pass directly to the side or backward. The ball cannot be passed forward.
The referee will signal a scrum down by his arm pointing in the downward position and marking the point of the scrumdown with his heel. The direction his arm is pointed is the team that will put the ball into play in the scrumdown. The ball is always put into play on the “loose head prop” (1) side of the scrum by the “scrum half”. The scrum half must roll the ball straight in the tunnel between the two opposing scrums. The “hooker” (2) supported by the props (1,3) must “hook” the ball with his foot and the pack must drive the opponent away from the ball, stepping over the ball as they drive. The ball cannot be picked up by the scrum half or 8 man until it is stepped over and is at the back of the formed scrum. The ball is then either picked up by the 8 man,”8 man pick” or by the scrum half and put into play. Many times you will hear someone yell “balls out” when the ball leaves the scrum. This tells the “pack” to leave the scrum and pursue the ball up the field and be there to support the tackled player.
A line out occurs whenever the ball is carried, thrown or kicked to touch (out of bounds on the sidelines of the field). A full line out is with 7 pack players in a line with the eighth pack player throwing the ball into play as shown above. The opposing team has to match the # of players in the lineout. If the team throwing in has 5 in the lineout, the defending team must also have five. The extra two players must be 10 meters back from the lineout. You may hear someone yell “match em!” If you do not match a penalty is given. The person throwing the ball in must throw the ball down the center of the tunnel that is formed. The ball must go five meters and the first man of the line-out cannot be less than five meters form the touch line. If the ball is not thrown in straight or five meters a lineout or scrumdown is awarded to the other team. In this set above the 1 and 3 man would be lifting the 2 man to catch the ball. The 2 man can either pass the ball directly to the scrum half to start play or sometimes the pack will drive the ball up field. You will hear “drive it up” when this occurs. This drive will get the defense retreating and cause the opposing backs to flatten in the backline of defense. When this occurs the backline can find a seam through the defensive backline easier. The opposing team is trying to “spoil” or take the ball from the team throwing in. The line out is over when this drive starts or the ball is taken out by the scrumhalf. “Balls Out” will be heard once again.
Terms: Scrumhalf, Flyhalf, Inside Center, Outside Center, Wing, Weakside WIng, Fullback, Phase, clean ball, breakdown, 8 man pick, Balls out, Banger,
The scrum half (9) similar to the quarterback in football should be a quick decision maker and always try to be in position to start the ball into play from a breakdown(where a tackle has occurred), lineout or scrumdown. The flyhalf (10) and inside center (11) need to have the skills to take a tackle, make quick accurate passes and be strong runners. The outside center (12) and wing (13) should be fast on their feet and be quick to burst on the ball as it is passed. If possible a team likes to have the fastest players at the wing or outside center positions. The weakside wing (14) is positioned opposite the wing. His duty is to insert as the wing when the backfield is set in the mirror image of the example above.Both wings should have good speed and strong tackling skills as they have the duties of defensively covering the side of the field in the chance we lose ball possession and the opposing team advances the ball his direction. The fullback (15) should have good tackling skills, good speed, a cool head, good hands and a good foot. The fullbacks duties are to cover the complete backfield in the chance an opposing player is not tackled by the backs, they also will cover a deep kick if the opposing team tries to advance the ball by kicking deep, He needs to stay calm, gather the ball, look at the field and either advance the ball by running it up field toward his teammates or by kicking the ball up field and chasing the ball putting his teammates “on side”.
During a typical phase of rugby ball handling the scrum half (10) will make the first pass to the flyhalf (10) who will in turn pass it to the inside center (11) who passes it to the outside center (12)who passes it to the wing (13).If the wing is tackled this is called the first “breakdown” and this is the end of the offensive “first phase” The wing forwards (6,7) and 8 man from the pack should be the first players of support at the “breakdown” and drive the opponents away from the ball, leaving “clean ball” (unopposed) for the scrum half to get out to the backs “Balls Out”, who have now set up for “second phase”. The weakside wing (14) has now inserted in place of the wing who is involved in the Ruck or Maul at the breakdown. Occasionally, if we are moving the ball well and the fullback may also insert into the backline to “overload” (overload means we have more people in position to run the ball than there are defenders.
During second, third and fourth phases the existing pack players may become ball carriers or support at the point of the next tackle or “breakdown”.Variations of ball handling will occur within “backline” (players 9,10,11,12,13,14). The ball may be passed from scrum half to inside center executing a “skip” directly to the inside center (11) skipping the fly half(10). Skips may occur anywhere in the backline. Sometimes backs may call a “switch” in which one backline player will loop inside another ie: 12 runs in between the 10 and 11 player. this would be called a 2-3 switch. Communication is very important for a backline. Expierenced backlines that have played together often are nightmares to defend. The defense is never allowed play a standard man to man defense when the backline runs plays with accuracy. You will also hear players yelling “banger”. This is when a pack player will take a short pass from a back usually inside the flyhalf or inside center and runs directly at the opposing backfield. This causes the defense to concentrate on excessive offensive pressure inside the backfield. When this occurs the defense often collapses on the “banger” and is weakened out at the outside center and wing positions.
Offside: In rugby the ball is the line of scrimmage. If you are ahead of the ball, you are offside.
Penalty: Anytime a penalty against you in rugby occurs the referee will stop play, raise his arm in the air towards the team he is awarding the penalty to. The opposing team must retreat 10 meters. The team with the ball has a choice to kick the ball to touch up the field for position, and setting a lineout at that point. Kicking the ball for post, trying to score 3 points, or running a set play to try and advance the ball up the field. Penalties are given for infractions like offside, touching the ball with your hands when the ball is on the ground and a ruck is formed, high tackles( above the chest), flagrant tackling (throwing the opponent to the ground or leaving your feet when tackling), shepherding, fighting, not binding on in a ruck, maul or a scrumdown, leaving a ruck, maul or scrumdown early when you are bound in.
22 Drop out: The opposing team tries to advance the ball into the try zone by kicking it or they miss a try at kicking the ball through the posts. They kick it into goal but we catch the ball and touch it down. We are awarded a “22 drop” We run the ball up to the 22 meter line and drop kick the ball through the 22 meter line. This should be an offensive play with our players catching the ball and advancing the ball up the field.
Playing the man: Many times in rugby you may anticipate the opponent catching the ball. In the event you anticipate wrong, the player does not have control and you tackle him you will be penalized for playing the man.
Shepherding: In the event you are accidentally offside, your team mate advances the ball around you, using you as a shield or blocker from the opposing team he referee may penalize you for shepherding.
Sin Bin: In Rugby the sin bin, like the penalty box in Hockey, may be used for the referee to control a situation. Two players fighting, players will not quit talking to the referee, disagreeing with the referee’s call of the game. The referee may put a player in the Sin Bin, the area beyond the goal area for a determined period of time. During this time his team must play 1 man short. If he is a pack player a back must either take a pack position or be substituted with a pack player. The pack must have eight members.
Injury time: During an injury time the referee will keep track of this time. He will add this time to the end of regulation play.
The game of rugby is a fun and faced pace game. Spectators enjoy the faced paced action.