Rugby basics

Beginners' guide to rugby union

Rugby union is a territorial, full-contact, team game, inclusive of all shapes and sizes, where 20-stone bulldozers are valued just as highly as small, pacy whippets. It is hard to imagine another British sport where 245lb prop Jason Leonard could stand in a World Cup-winning team alongside 5ft 8in wing Jason Robinson.

During the course of an 80-minute match, two sides of 15 players and six substitutes, officiated by a referee and two touch judges, try to outscore each other. The game lasts for two 40-minute halves on a grass pitch with an H-shaped goal post at each end. 

If you are a newcomer to the sport, the information here will outline the basics of rugby from scoring to set pieces, so use it to increase your enjoyment when it comes to watching the big games, or as a first step in your own playing career. Even England internationals had to start somewhere...