The Rugby Six Nations - what are the rules?
18th September 2015
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With the Rugby Six Nations starting on Saturday 6th February  if you don't understand the rules you might feel left out of many conversations over the next few weeks.

The rules of Rugby Union are complex but here is an overview of some of the rules and key terms you may hear which might help you when watching the games.

Rugby Union is a game played by 15 players plus substitutes.

The game consists of 2 halves of 40 minutes with the teams changing ends at half time.

How do you win?

The winning team is the team that scores the most points. In the Six nations 2 points are awarded for a win, 1 for a draw.

Teams can also win the Grand Slam if they beat the other 5 teams and, for England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland they can win the Triple Crown if they beat the other 3 home nations.

Players can run with the ball, kick it and pass it - although if they do pass it they must not throw it forwards.

How do you score points?

Players can score in the following ways:

  • A Try - where a player gets the ball across the touchline of the opposing team - this scores 5 points
  • Conversion - which takes place after a try where a player has to kick the ball between the goalposts and over the crossbar - this scores 2 points.
  • Penalty kick/ drop kick - awarded in open play and again a player has to kick the ball through the goalposts and over the crossbar - this scores 3 points.

If there is an infringement of the rules the following may happen

  • The team is issued with a penalty,
  • An individual player can be given a yellow card which means they spend 10 minutes off the pitch in the 'sin bin' or a red card where they are sent off for the rest of the game.

A lineout is a way to restart the game when the ball has gone out of play. Both teams line up and the Hooker will throw the ball down the line. Players will be lifted up to catch the ball.

A scrum is a way to restart the game after an infringement of the rules. The attacking team will throw in the ball and the Hooker from both teams will try to get the ball to the back of the scrum using their legs. If a scrum collapses it will be restarted - although the referee may award a different penalty if the scrum collapses repeatedly.

Rugby is a contact sport so the player with the ball can be tackled, although there are rules to reduce the risk of injury. Players can only be tackled from the shoulders down and a player must tackle another player using their arms.

When a player is tackled and falls to the ground they must release the ball straight away. The tackler must also release the player. Both sides will want to get the ball, however, so this is often when a ruck forms. Although it may look like a pile of men on top of each other, there are strict rules. Players have to join the ruck from behind the last player and must put an arm round a teammate. The players from the team who had the ball can use their hands to try to get the ball, but only if they are on their feet. The players of the opposing side cannot use their hands. Players will often use their feet to try to get the ball but must not touch another player. If the ball does not come free quickly the referee will award a scrum to the team with the most forward momentum.

A maul is when 3 or more players are in contact but still standing and moving forwards. Again players can join a maul, but only from the back. The maul ends when the ball is released or is on the ground. The referee will award a scrum if the maul stops moving forward and the ball isn't released quickly. 

A knock on is when a player does not catch a ball but it hits an arm or their chest then travels forward. A scrum will be awarded when this happens.

When are England playing in the Rugby Six nations?

England's matches are as follows:

  • Saturday 6 Feb: Scotland v England. 4.50pm
  • Sunday 14 Feb: Italy v England. 2pm
  • Saturday 27 Feb: England v Ireland. 4.50pm
  • Saturday 12 March: England v Wales. 4pm
  • Saturday 19 March: France v England. 8pm.

The Barley Mow are screening all games.

About the Author

Tracey S

Member since: 27th June 2014

I have over 20 year’s marketing experience working for companies including Hewlett Packard, Royal Mail, Hitachi and AQA. I live in Fleet and am the owner of thebestof Fleet helping small and medium companies...

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