In 1823, William Webb Ellis used his hands to pick up a ball in a soccer match and ran with it to the goal. That day, rugby was born. There are two primary forms of rugby union: rugby fifteens and rugby sevens. Touch rugby, beach rugby, rugby tens and rugby twelves are also iterations of the sport often used as a development pathway and feeder into the main forms.
SAFER WITHOUT PADS
Though rugby players don’t wear pads or helmets, the techniques and rules of the sport make impact much safer. Rugby players are taught to use their arms and shoulders when making contact with opponents; earning serious repercussions for any contact above the shoulders and other dangerous styles of play. Players caught disregarding these rules receive a yellow card and are forced to sit on the bench for ten minutes in rugby fifteens and two minutes in rugby sevens. Serious offenses can result in a red card, with the chance of suspending the athlete for weeks.
ABOUT RUGBY 15S
Fifteens is played with 15 players on each side of the ball who compete for 80-minutes (two 40 minute halves) in individual matches through the year. Rugby fifteens was an Olympic sport in the early 1900s where the U.S. men won gold medals in 1920 and 1924. The Rugby World Cup is now the main pinnacle event of the sport — taking place every four years — and also serves as the third-largest single-sporting event in the world.
RULES OF RUGBY 15s
Two teams of 15 players have 80 minutes to advance the ball past their opponents’ side of the field (pitch) and touch it to the ground for a score worth 5 points (try). Participants may only pass the ball backwards or sideways with no blocking allowed; using a variety of phases such as lineouts, mauls, rucks and scrums to retain possession during play. Rugby is unique in that play is continuous even after players are tackled on the field. Kicking is the only method by which both teams may move the ball forward.
After each try, worth 5 points, the scoring team is allowed an opportunity to kick the ball through the posts for an additional 2 points (conversion). Certain penalties also earn the non-offending team a kick through the posts, worth 3 points (penalty) if made. At the conclusion of the match, the team with the most points wins.