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This page was last updated: 2/9/2014
Professor Mike says,
"Always get the first hit in early, even if it's late"
Rugby is definitely a "contact" sport, but it is not a brutal sport. In fact, it is much less violent than American Football. There are several very good and logical reasons for this including the fact that contact, while vigorous, is much less dangerous than in American football since neither blocking or rigid protective equipment is allowed in Rugby. This means players are not getting ‘blind-sided' by the unexpected blocker nor striking each other with ‘armored' shoulders and helmets. Also, dirty or dangerous play is not tolerated, and the offending player may be ordered off the field or even suspended by his club or the local union. Rugby places as much importance on sportsmanship and safety as on winning. POSSESSION Rugby is a game of possession, not yardage. Therefore coaching emphasizes passing the ball before being tackled as well as other skills aimed at keeping the ball in your teams possession, and not struggling ahead trying to gain a few more yards while the opponents entire team tries to drag you down. NO BLOCKING Most think a lack of blocking makes the game more dangerous, but the fact is it makes rugby safer because defenders are not being blind sided by some sprinting lineman hoping to open a hole in the defense (and in the defender!). In football space is created for a runner by brute force (blocking). In rugby space is created by guile and cunning (passing the ball and using misdirection). In Rugby, nearly all collisions between players is anticipated by both, and therefore better prepared for. TACKLING Tacklers must wrap their arms when tackling. No ‘rolling body block' type tackles aimed at an opponent's knees are allowed. Also, NO tackling is allowed above the shoulders. Also known as ‘high tackling', it is strictly forbidden and quickly penalized if it occurs. This not only makes for safer play but for surer tackling. Coaches teach not only how to tackle but how to be tackled (i.e. how to fall so that your team keeps possession of the ball). Finally, the Rugby community is a unique group of individuals (and a group of unique individuals) who dare to try something different... a legendary game that mixes strength, speed and agility… a game that will forever welcome athletes of any and every size and shape. Successful rugby does require fitness, but first and foremost it requires that special person who's ready, willing and able to give it a try. We welcome anyone who is interested in joining our club. Physical size is not an issue, Rugby is a game that rewards speed, endurance, vision and intelligence. Brute strength and size are great assets to have but without the fitness to get around the field and the vision to create opportunities strength and size matter little. Athletes from all different sporting backgrounds can be successfull at rugby. Our organization is truly an athletic fraternity. Everyone is welcome and invited to participate. We never discriminate on the basis of age, sex, race, religion, or national origin. We train, socialize and play rugby together as good friends throughout the year. If you have any questions regarding becoming a member please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org RUGBY 101 Rugby is a fast-moving, full-contact team sport. It shares its roots with soccer, but is better known in North America as the forerunner of American football. There are many nuances, but this page should help you understand the basics. THE MATCH A rugby match takes place on a field (called the “pitch”) that is 100 meters long and 70 meters wide. At either end of the pitch is a “try zone” — something like the end zone in American football — and an H-shaped goal. Teams score either by carrying the ball into the try zone and touching it to the ground (a “try”, worth five points) or by kicking the ball through the upright posts (from regular play or penalty, this is a “goal”, worth three points; if done after a try, a “conversion”, worth two points). Naturally, the object of the game is to out-score the opposing side. Ordinary matches consist of two forty-minute halves separated by a ten-minute break. (Some tournaments will have shorter halves.) Play starts with a kick-off at the fifty-meter line, and it continues uninterrupted until one team scores, until the ball goes out of bounds (or “in touch”), or until the referee blows his or her whistle to indicate a penalty or injury. This is probably a good place to point out a few key ways that rugby is different from American football. 1. There is no forward passing, ever, by any player. Players can either pass the ball backwards to a teammate, or they can try to kick it down the pitch. Try to pass forward, though, and the ref will call a penalty against you. 2. You can only tackle, hold, shove, or block the player with the ball. Tackle, hold, shove, or block anybody else and you’ll earn your team a penalty. 3. Play doesn’t stop just because somebody has been tackled. Tackled players have about two seconds to either release the ball (ideally to one of their teammates) or get back to their feet; in the me antime, all of the other players on the pitch are still engaged in the game. 4. The ball is considered “live”, no matter what happens, until the referee blows his or her whistle. If the ball is just rolling around on the ground, and the ref hasn’t whistled, then just pick it up already. 5. Referees have quite a bit of discretion on calling or not-calling penalties. Their calls carry the force of divine mandate and cannot be reversed. It is unwise and foolish to challenge the ref’s judgement, because you will earn yourself a penalty this way. 6. In order to score a try, the ball must be touching both the player’s hand and the ground of the try zone at the same time. It isn’t enough just to carry the ball into the try zone. 7.Once a team scores a try, they get to attempt to kick the ball through the uprights for a conversion. They can kick from any distance, but they must be aligned with the point where the ball touched the ground. Once that’s all done, everyone hustles back to the 50-meter line, where the team who just scored receives the kick-off. PLAYERS During the match, each side has fifteen players on the pitch, plus up to seven alternates on the sidelines. Every position has its own characteristic strengths, which we’ll cover in a minute, but it’s important to remember that every player on the pitch has the opportunity to pass, run, kick, catch, tackle, be tackled, or score points, as the circumstances demand. It’s also important to remember that, in rugby, there’s a place for every build and height. Positions are traditionally numbered according to their place in the “scrum” (a formation often used to re-start open play after a penalty). Positions one through eight are collectively known as “forwards”, and positions nine through fifteen are known as “backs”. FORWARDS Positions one and three are known as props. During the scrum, the props stand on either side of the hooker, and, as the name implies, provide physical support. Typical props are short to average height, with a sturdy build. Position two is better known as the hooker. During the scrum, the hooker wraps his arms around the props’ ribcages, then uses his feet to try to “hook” the ball backwards to his teammates (hence the name). Hookers are usually the shortest of the forwards, with long arms and powerful legs. Positions four and five are known as locks, and they form the second row in the scrum. Locks provide most of the physical power of the scrum. Positions six and seven are known as flankers. In the scrum, the flankers and #8 form the back row, and often handle the ball. Flankers are the most aggressive attackers on the team. Position eight is known as, well, number eight. Number eight plays at the center of the scrum’s back row. When the hooker does his job and moves the ball backwards, it ends up at number eight’s feet; number eight then either holds the ball for the scrumhalf or breaks off the scrum and runs the ball himself. BACKS Position nine is known as the scrumhalf. The scrumhalf is the link between the forwards and backs; at the start of the scrum, he puts the ball into the middle, and at the end of the scrum he (hopefully) retrieves it from number eight’s foot and initiates a play. As the playmaker, the scrumhalf must also be master of every facet of the game. Position ten is known as the flyhalf. The flyhalf is the team tactician, reading the defense, calling plays, shuffling backs, and distributing the ball wherever it has the best chance at getting through. Positions eleven and fourteen are the wings. The wings are the quickest, nimblest players on the team, and as a result are the ones who score the most tries. There’s no typical build for a wing; they just have to be fast and agile. Positions twelve and thirteen are the centers. Centers are usually described as the “platform” for plays; their role is to open up holes in the opposing defense so that other backs (usually wings) can get through to the try zone. Finally, position fifteen is the fullback. The fullback plays at the back of the team, acting as the last line of defense, but he also receives the most high kicks and is usually the best kicker. Depending on your point of view, the fullback is either the bravest or the most foolhardy, as the fullback’s tackles are consistently done at full speed out in the open. THE THIRD HALF Rugby is as much a social endeavor as it is a sport, so the gathering after the match is just as important as the activity on the pitch. In the “third half”, the home team hosts the visiting side. It’s a great opportunity to mingle with the other side and congratulate them on the things they did well (or at least for their valiant effort).
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