The Basics

A Fast, Fluid and Dynamic Game of Skill

Rugby is a very fast, fluid and dynamic game of skill with few stoppages in play. It may seem like a simple game of catching, passing, running and kicking, but it's not. The scrum, ruck and maul are complex elements of the game requiring skill and strategy. What happens when the scrum packs down or if the referee blows up a ruck or maul and awards a penalty? A lot will depend on the referee's analysis of the play. The game is played for 80 minutes under the control of a referee and two assistant referees (AR's) or two touch judges.
The players are aligned as forwards or backs, with the forwards having jersey numbers from 1 to 8. Forward positions are:
1. Loosehead prop
2. Hooker
3. Tighthead prop
4. Left lock (or second row)
5. Right lock (or second row)
6. Blindside flanker
7. Open-side flanker
8. No. 8
The hooker's responsibility is to throw the ball into the lineout and to strike for the ball in the front row of the scrum between the props. The locks are the tall players (some way over 6 foot 3 inches tall) who soar for the line-out ball. They also join the scrum behind the front-row.
Flankers play a scavenger role. They go after the breakdown ball while the No. 8 position is a power tackler and runner.
Backs are the fastest runners of the team who attack the opposition when the forwards pass them the ball. The numbers for the backs are:
9. Scrum-half
10. Fly-half
11. Left wing
12. Inside-centre
13. Outside-centre
14. Right wing
15. Fullback
The scrum-half is the link between the forwards and the backs. A scrum-half must be a good at passing the ball and have good vision. He/she must instantly decide whether to hand the ball to the backs or pass it to the forwards. The fly-half is the playmaker - to quickly decide whether he/she should pass the ball, run with or kick it.
The centres are big individuals with lots of pace and must be very good at beating or breaking an opponent tackle, changing the angle of attack and keeping the backs in a position to push forward - the objective always being to advance the ball.
Five points are awarded for a try. This is attained when the ball is grounded over the opponent's try-line. A successful conversion kick after a try awards two additional points. A penalty goal kick is worth three points, as is a drop-goal which is awarded when a player drop-kicks a goal from general play.

For more information check out Rugby Canada's Rugby 101 Guide.