Grizzlies Rugby Primer
MY SIDE - YOUR SIDE
A SIDE is made up of the 15 players on your team. There are 15 positions on each Side. Each position has a specific Number assigned to it, 1-15. The 15 Positions are divided up between FORWARDS who do more shoving and BACKS who theoretically do more running. But, don't worry, there is plenty of running and shoving to be done by every position. Basically, the theory goes, Forwards get the ball and the Backs run it into the TRY ZONE (the end zone) to score. But in rugby any position can score, run, tackle, get tackled, et. al. and usually everyone gets their chance for glory. When you get the ball you can Run FORWARD, pass to a player BEHIND you, hand it off or kick it. When the ball carrier is tackled, he MUST VERY QUICKLY release the ball. Preferably where his Side can pick it up the easiest. ONLY the person carrying the ball may be tackled. Once the ball is passed or released, opponents should let go or try to avoid hitting him. The most important thing to remember is a tackle DOES NOT stop play. The Side with the ball are ATTACKERS, the other Side are DEFENDERS. These labels change rapidly during play.
ASSUME THE POSITION
Because of the shoving, forwards tend to be a bit heavier and generally bigger. Some height helps too (except Hooker).
The Forward positions are:
1 - LOOSE HEAD PROP supports the Hooker on the Front Row in Scrums.
2 - HOOKER hooks the ball with a foot during Scrums.
3 - TIGHT HEAD PROP supports the Hooker on the Front Row in Scrums.
(These are collectively called the Front Row)
4 - LOCK, these are the engine of the Scrum, usually taller and stronger.
5 - LOCK, they also usually serve as Jumpers in the Line-out. (Locks are also collectively called the Second Row)
(All the above are also collectively called the Tight Five)
6 - FLANKER, these are usually strong and fast, helping power the Scrum.
7 - FLANKER, they also break away quickly to provide support and move the ball.
8 - 8-MAN is at the back of the Scrum, he protects the ball for the Scrumhalf, or can pick it up and run.
(All the above are also collectively called THE PACK)
Because of all the running, backs tend to be less heavy, lithe, and like to run a lot. Hand-eye coordination to pass and catch certainly helps too.
The Back positions are:
9 - SCRUMHALF is quick and nimble, links the Pack and the Backs.
10 - FLY HALF receives the ball from the Scrumhalf and calls the plays for the Backs.
(These are collectively called Halfbacks)
11 - WING, they are usually the fastest players and score most frequently.
12 - INSIDE CENTER, their main job is to create space for the other Backs to score.
13 - OUTSIDE CENTER, team players, they are always supporting the ball carrier.
14 - WING, called Blind-side or Open-side depending on where the ball is at the time.
15 - FULL BACK this critical player is the last line of defense who needs to regain the ball and turn it around. He often kicks and returns kicks by the other Side.
(Backs are collectively called BACKS...)
THE FIELD OF PLAY
PITCH is the correct term for the field of play. Since this is not a sport native to the U.S., the Pitch is often measured in meters. A proper
Pitch is a bit longer than a football field, appx. 110 yards.
The end zone, where you score, is correctly called the TRY ZONE. So, you do not get a touch-down, you (hopefully often) get a Try.
The sidelines, where you are out of bounds, is correctly called TOUCH. So, spectators are standing or sitting In Touch.
HALFWAY LINE - marks the center of the field.
10 METER LINES - marks the minimum distance the ball must travel from the Halfway line on kick-off.
22 METER LINES - 22 meters from the Try Line. When you are behind your own 22 meter line you are in trouble.
5 METER LINES - run down the sides (Touch) to mark the minimum distance the ball must travel for Line-outs.
15 METER LINES - run parallel to the sides, but 15 meters in from the Touch Lines. These are used for some Scrums and in a Line Out, players in the line must stay between the 5 and 15 Meter Lines.
SIR is the correct name for the referee. There is only one Sir in a Rugby match. Players DO NOT speak to the Sir. Except the team Captains.
If the Sir speaks to player directly, it means the player did something bad. The ONLY correct response by this player to the Sir is "yes Sir". Speaking to the Sir out of turn can result in a penalty. Should a player disagree with the Sir, he must speak to his Captain who is the only one who can speak to the Sir for that Side. If the Captain does not take the complaint to the Sir, the complaining player should suck it up and get on with the game. Listen to the Sir during play, he will be giving instructions. These instructions usually help keep players from earning a penalty for their Side. The Ball is LIVE until the Sir blows his whistle. So, play should never stop until the Sir blows his whistle.
In the unlikely event a player is injured, he should "take a knee" to let the Sir and other players know that he needs a minute for the pain to pass. If the player cannot get up enough to take a knee, he should stay down till someone comes to him. If he is in the way of play, the Sir will stop play for one-two minutes so the body can be moved and play resumed.
Injury time is added to the end of that half so the match includes 40 minutes of play.
These two handsome fellows assist the Sir by standing quietly along the two Touch Lines. Each team usually volunteers one of there players to serve as a Touch Judge for the Match. If you are chosen, it does not necessarily mean your team does not want you on the Pitch.
Like the color guard in high school Touch Judges get to waive small colorful flags. When the ball goes into Touch (out of bounds) they rush to the spot and hold the flag over their head. This indicates where the ball will be thrown in from when the ball is found and play resumes.
On a penalty kick they also determine if the ball goes between the uprights on the goal post. If the kick is good they waive the flag over their head with happiness. If the kick is outside the uprights they will hold the flags down and look disappointed.
A coin toss determines who decides wether to kick or receive to start the match. The Side scoring becomes the receiving Side to restart play after after a Try. This is opposite for American football.
These occur when the ball has gone out of bounds. Control is awarded to the Side that did NOT kick or knock the ball out of bounds. UNLESS it is kicked out on a penalty kick, then possession stays with the kicking Side. The Hooker from the Side awarded Control throws in the ball from the Touch Line. The Second Row Locks usually also serve as Jumpers. Other Forwards usually also serve as Lifters. Jumpers are thrown into the air like cheerleaders to try and grab the ball. As soon as the ball moves out of the line it is back in play. The Jumper can pass the ball to the Scrumhalf or keep it. If he keeps it a Maul usually forms around him as he comes down.
These occur to put the ball back in play after certain penalties. A Scrum has been called when the Sir knocks his knuckles together over his head. The Sir will then indicate which Side will Put In the ball. The Pack Binds together facing the opposing Pack. The Sir calls CROUCH, TOUCH, PAUSE, ENGAGE and the two Sides lock together. Backs on the SIde with possession must stay behind that last foot of the 8-man at the back of the Scrum until the ball is back in Open Play. Backs on the opposing Side must stay back 10 meters behind the last foot of their 8-man. The Scrumhalf then rolls the ball into the middle of the Scrum. The two Hookers kick each other until the balls rolls toward the back of one Pack. When the ball is back between the legs of the Eight Man, the Scrumhalf pulls it out. The Scrumhalf may pass to the Flyhalf or another player. In the unlikely event that the opposing Scrumhalf is not already on top of him, the Scrumhalf may also run the ball himself. The ball is then back in Open Play.
A Ruck occurs when the ball carrier runs into one or more defenders who tackle him to the ground. As soon as his knees are on the ground, the ball carrier MUST IMMEDIATELY release the ball. Ideally, when you are being tackled fall with your back to the defenders and place the ball toward your team. As a defender, you MAY NOT reach down to pick up the ball from a Ruck. Unless, no one else is there to defend the ball. If there is ANY player from the other team near the ball you should start pushing him back over the ball. The goal is to push the other team back from over the ball so that your Scrumhalf can reach into the Ruck and retrieved the ball for your side. Once a Scrumhalf retrieves the ball a new Phase of Play begins.
Phases of Play
A Phase of Play starts when the ball begins to move at the start of a half, after a Set Play, Penalty or a Ruck. A Phase of Play ends when the ball is stopped for a penalty, injury or lack or forward movement when the ball is in a Maul.
A Try is worth 5 points. A Try is awarded when you touch the ball to the ground in the Try Zone. The Try does NOT count unless the ball is placed on the ground WITH downward pressure. You MUST touch the ball to the ground with downward pressure or it does not count. Just crossing the Try Line does NOT count.
Conversions are worth 2 points. A Conversion is a kick for extra points following a Try. the ball must travel between the uprights and above the bar to count. After a conversion attempt the Side that did NOT score kicks off to the Side that did. Crazy English. Penalty kicks are worth 3 points.
Penalty kicks are awarded by the Sir for certain penalties. Defenders stand quietly IN the Try Zone when the other side is kicking for Conversion or a Penalty.
A Drop Goal is also worth 3 points should it work.
It is also possible, but rare, that the ball will be kicked through the uprights during loose play. This is called a Drop Goal and can theoretically happen any time
Penalties should be avoided since they are usually bad for your Side. Too often they result in Scrums and will make the Pack want to Scrum whoever earned the penalty after the Match.
On Penalties the Sir holds one hand straight up and points the other at the Side that will get control of the Ball. This is opposite of American football. If the Sir does not call a penalty for any reason, even because he missed it, then play should continue as though the infraction did not occur. Since there is only one Sir and he usually stays close to the ball and calls only penalties affecting ongoing play.
Is when the ball touches any part of a player above the knee and bounces away. Below the knee it is considered a kick and is fair. Knock-ons happen very frequently and can not often be avoided.
Is when the ball is passed to a teammate who is in Front, or even beside the ball-carrier. The ball-carrier must always and ONLY pass to a teammate who is BEHIND him. If both players are running forward and the ball is passed just as the second player runs past the ball-carrier, the result is likely to be a penalty for a forward pass. the Sir almost always sees and calls these penalties.
There is an imaginary line running across the field from the middle of the ball. this penalty occurs when a player touches the ball or the ball-carrier from the wrong side of that imaginary line.
A player may only tackle or retrieve the ball from his own side of the imaginary line. So, he should always stay behind his teammate with the ball and in front of a defender carrying the ball.
When a Maul or Ruck has formed, the imaginary line still runs through the ball for those who get there first, but a second imaginary line also forms at the back foot of the back player engaged in the Maul or Ruck from each Side. New players may ONLY engage in the Maul or Ruck from behind this new line at the BACK of the Maul or Ruck. If a player, even accidentally, engages any opposing player from the side of the Maul or Ruck then a penalty will very likely be called since the Sir is always standing right there.
The one exception to this rule occurs if a player is already engaged with a player from the other Side. Such a player is not considered off-sides even if the Maul or Ruck spins to the point that he is technically on the wrong side of the ball.
Is basically when the ball-carrier, accidentally or on purpose, runs behind his own teammate(s) preventing an opponent from tackling him. Blocking is not allowed in Rugby and so this results in a penalty. This is one more reason players should always stay BEHIND a teammate who has the ball.
Unless the penalty calls for a Scrum, the Side earning the penalty should Immediately get back from the ball 10 meters. Otherwise they are off-sides and MAY NOT tackle the new ball carrier without earning another penalty.
Players on the Side that gets the ball should get into position behind the back foot of the ball-carrier who then re-starts play by passing back to another player or kicking or running the ball forward.
Advantage is when the Sir decides an infraction actually benefits the other Side. So, the Sir can allow play to continue as long as he feels the other Side is benefiting.
But, if the other Side does not actually benefit within a minute or two or if they earn a penalty of their own, the Sir will call the ball back to where the earlier penalty was earned.
Matches are generally played on Rugby Day, sometimes referred to as Saturday. A Rugby Match consists of two halfs not exceeding 40 minutes each and a 10 minute half time. A proper Match includes the two 40 minute halfs and a much longer Third Half.
The Third Half is where both Sides meet for a friendly Beer after completing the first two halfs. You may drink something other than beer, but this is not recommended, and may result in ridicule.
If you scored a Try during the match, you must run around naked at some point during the Third Half. This is so everyone knows that you finally scored. You may drink several beers before doing the run-around bit. Third Halfs should also include collegial singing. See the Grizzlies Song Book link for more on this.
When two or more matches are scheduled for the same day, as in the case of a tournament, halfs are often shortened to 20 minutes each with a 5 or 10 minute break.
There are two season each calendar year. Fall is one Season. Winter/Spring is the other Season. Matches are also called Fixtures in some places. No one knows why. The number of Matches in a season varies depending on how many clubs are willing to play your team. Their willingness has a lot to do with how good a reputation your Club has for arranging the Third Half. The Club Match Secretary is the party responsible for coordinating schedules with other Clubs. See the Calendar for the Grizzlies Match Schedule.
The Grizzlies play Rugby UNION Rules. We are members of USA Rugby, Mid South Rugby Union and IGRAB. There is another set of Rugby Rules called Rugby LEAGUE Rules. Grizzlies don't play that game. It is a lot more like soccer with an egg-shaped ball and all the players are basically Backs.
There are also games called 7s and 10s Rugby. But, don't be distracted by that till you get 15s figured out.
Wanna learn more about rugby? San Francisco Fog's Rookie Primer
© copyright 2007 David Glasgow