This post is the second post out of two that discuss the very basics of rugby. As you can tell from the first part of the post even the basics of rugby are very thorough and precise. This part of Rugby 101 is gong to discuss the equipment used, positions, variations of rugby, the influences and community of rugby and other odds and ends. I will really try to keep this post short, so if anything seems vague or you don not understand something feel free to comment on the post so I can answer your questions.
First I am going to start off by briefly talking about the basic equipment used in rugby. There is not much equipment that players need in order to play. The basic equipment needed is a rugby ball (oval shaped with four panels – provided by coach or Sir), rugby jersey (also provided by coach), Rugby Shorts (usually made out of heavy cotton so they don not tear easily), tall socks, mouthguard, rugby cleats (although soccer cleats will do just fine) and a scrum cap (a little like a helmet but soft and is usually used to protect ears from getting cauliflower ears). Technically tall socks, scrum caps and mouthguards are optional, but highly recommended. Other forms of protective gear can be worn but must be thin material and checked by the sir before the game. Side-note: you must also keep your finder nails clipped short and your hair pulled back WITHOUT and hard hair binders or clips.
Here is an example of a scrum cap.
Generally what a rugby player looks like (equipment wise) during a game.
Also I forgot to state in my last post that we play our games in any kind of weather no matter what (unless there is excessive amounts of lightening). There are no limitations weather wise that I personally have not played in. My personal favorite would have to be when its really muddy and raining (it makes things more dramatic).
Next I am going to talk a little about the different positions in rugby. There are 15 players on each side on the field (13 in the rugby league) with about 7 or 8 subs. The players on the team are divided into “forwards” and “backs”, each having a designated number that has a specific job. Numbers start with #1 through #8 in the forwards and #9 through #15 in the backs. Forwards tend to be the bigger and stronger players on the team because they are needed for the “heavy work” like scrums, rucks, lineouts, tackling, etc. Their main job is to gain and keep possession of the ball. They are usually referred to as the “pack” especially when a scrum has been formed. There are 8 forwards in total, there is the front row (#1 through 3), second row (#4 and 5) and back row (#6 through 8). The front row consists of two “props” (loose head and tight head) and the “hooker”. The props support and hold up the hooker in a scrum. They can also help with lineouts, rucks and mauls. The hooker’s main job is to “hook” the ball back to their team in a scrum.
Here is the general set up of a rugby team. The formation shown in this diagram is during a scrum
This is what the forwards look like in a scrum. You always put your head to the left so you do not hit heads.
The second row consists of the two “locks”. The locks tend to be the tallest people on the team and also help in lineouts. Their main job is to provide forward drive in the scrum and to be able to complete standing jumps in lineouts. The back row (not to be confused with the “back”) is the last row of forward positions. They are usually referred to as the “loose forwards”. They consist of the two “flankers” and the “eight-man”. The flankers (outside and inside or blindside and openside) are the final row of the scrum and are the most mobil forwards out of the whole pack. Their main job is to win possession of the ball through “turnovers.” The Eight-man (or number 8) holds the scrum in place and controls the ball once it gets to the back of the scrum so the “scrumhalf” can get it.
Here is a good example of what the front row looks like before they engage in the scrum.
Here is a better side angle of what the whole “pack” looks like before the scrum.
Here is another example of a scrum.
This brings me to the “backs”. The main role of all backs is to create and convert opportunities for tries. They tend to be fast, small and more agile than forwards. They should also have great kicking and passing skills. The backs start with the “scrumhalf” (#9) who is the link between the forwards and backs. They feed the ball into the scrum, remove the ball from the scrum, receive the ball from lineouts and get the ball out to the backs. The first person to get the ball from the scrumhalf in the backs is the “flyhalf” (#10). They are the team’s play orchestrator and pace maker. They decide what actions take place after lineouts, scrums and rucks. They tend to be the most talkative person on the field.
The rest of the backs consist of two centres (#11 and 12), two wings (#13 and 14) and a full back (#15). The two centres (inside and outside) are the main tacklers of the backs. They need to have speed and strength to get through the opponent’s line of defense. The wings (left and right) are usually the players who score the most tries and have the most break-aways. They tend to be the fastest people on the team and the most agile. The last back is the “fullback.” They tend to stay in the back of the field and act as the last line of defense when there is a break-away. They must have good catching skills, kicking skills and are good at flat-footed tackles.
Here is an example of what the backs look like. The players that look like they are running are the backs, the ones that look like they are walking are the forwards.
The next thing I am going to talk about is the different variations of rugby. There are many forms of rugby that have been created to be able to include and introduce the sport to as many people as possible. Besides 15’s the second most common form of rugby is rugby 7’s. Rugby 7’s is a faster paced variation of rugby 15’s, except with fewer people on each side. In 7’s there are 7 people per team on each side instead of 15 per side. The game also is shorter with 7 minute halves instead of 40 minutes but is no less physical or interesting. There is also rugby 10’s, in which there are 10 players per side but they still play 40 minute halves. Other variations include: touch rugby (no tackling, just two hand touch on the waist), tag rugby (like flag football but played like rugby), mini rugby (8 players per side on a smaller pitch – usually for children), American Flag Rugby (same as tag rugby but for grades K-9) and beach & snow rugby (played on the beach or in the snow).
This is what tag/flag rugby looks like
Example of what sand rugby looks like
Example of what snow rugby looks like
Besides these different variations of rugby there are also different “leagues” all around the world. Some of these leagues include: youth leagues (K-5), middle school/high school leagues (6-12), college leagues (DI, DII and DIII), semi-pro (adult leagues), professional (talked about in my first post of the week) and wheelchair rugby (also discussed in my first post of the week). There are many different variations and leagues out there for everyone to try and any of them are a great way to learn about the sport and meet great people.
Side-note: rugby football was a big influence in the creations of many sports we have come to know and love around the world. Some are more obvious than others on the list I am about to provide but nethertheless they all have been influenced by rugby football in some way or another. Here is the main list: rugby union football, rugby league football, American football, Canadian football, Australian “rules” football, wheelchair rugby (quad rugby or murderball), Swedish football,soccer (to some degree), basketball, hockey and water polo. There are other sports but those are the top ones on the list.
This brings me to the topic of the rugby community as a whole. I could probably write a whole post on just the rugby community because there is so much to say about it. However, I will keep it brief and yet try to explain to you all how awesome it is. In rugby you put your blood, sweat and tears into the sport and out on the field, so things can get a little heated and intense. But this sport is what we call a gentleman’s game. We go out there are try and “murder” (physically beat up – not on purpose) each other for a set amount of time. However, as soon as the game is over and we step off that pitch we are all friends. The hosting team usually puts on a “social” after in which there is a lot of food, drinks and laughter. We do not hold grudges and usually end up laughing everything off. There can also be times where we can break out into rugby songs.
Most rugby songs can be a little explicit but they have been around for many, many years and can be pretty fun to sing if everyone gets involved. There are also traditional songs preformed by national rugby teams, the most well known team being the New Zealand All Blacks. They preform what is called the Haka, which is a traditional war dance, cry and challenge in their culture. It is never the same lyrics because it depends on each team. Many other sports have taken this dance/cry/challenge and made it their own. It is very interesting to watch and pumps you up if you watch or preform it before you play a game. ***I will post a link to a video of the Haka being preformed down below***
Here are a couple examples of the Haka (Best to see in video form – check out the link below). Both men and women do the Haka.
Even though we go out on the pitch to get physically beat up we do still have on field etiquette that must be followed. Some of the major rules being: no swearing on the pitch, no yelling at the sir, coach, fans, other players, etc., no fowl play (punching, scratching, bitting, pinching, etc.) and no purposely trying to endanger yourself and other players. As long as everyone follows these rules and the general rules of rugby the game can be pretty fun to play. Some teams can be ‘dirtier” that others but your team must try and stay above their actions and show you are the bigger person. Your actions and your teams actions can go a long ways and it shows other teams where you are as person/people as a whole.
here is a picture of a rugby huddle. There are no time-outs so this is either before the game, during halftime or after the game.
There are many benefits to playing rugby. You not only get in shape/stay in shape but you also feel like you belong to one big family and community. By playing rugby in the U.S. you also spread the word and joys of rugby throughout the country without really knowing it. Playing rugby can also create many opportunities for you and start conversations with different people. Trust me when I say that rugby is a conversation starter. If there is a lull in a conversation bring up rugby and I guarantee that your conversation will take off. It is also a great thing to bring up during a job interview because rugby is so unique and interesting the person interviewing you will never forget who you are.
There are many opportunities to play and watch rugby right here in Minnesota. Even more specifically right here in Marshall, MN. Like I have stated before we have both a Women’s and Men’s rugby team (club) right here at SMSU. Our games are usually on Saturdays because “Saturday’s a Rugby Day!” This spring we will be playing mainly on the new field within the track and field complex. I will hopefully be posting our spring schedules soon, so look out for that. If you are interested in rugby in any way feel free to come to our practices or games! Once again I will be posting the tentative schedule soon. If you have any questions, comments or concerns feel free to comment on my posts, message me or talk to me in person. I am always happy to talk rugby with people. For now I leave you with a quote that us ruggers tend to say all the time.
“Rugby is a hooligans game played by gentlemen.” Winston Churchill
Here are my links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rugby_union (once again if you want more info on the Rugby Union)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdMCAV6Yd0Y (here is the video of the Haka, It is a older video but has a great translation of what the players are saying)