So last weekend saw the start of our favourite leg/arm-fest season, with the 1st stage of the Rugby Union Six Nations Tournament 2014. We love dribbling over those strong, muscle-bulging men but we wondered how many of us Janes actually know what we are watching, asides from the very tight kits?! So to remove the confused faces on ‘game days’ we thought we would give you, the Average Jane’s, Rugby Union 101.

Average Janes Rugby Union 101

So, as always, to ensure we get the best for our Janes, we asked Premiership team, Aylesford Bulls Ladies Rugby Club player, Jade Binskin-Barnes for her Rugby Union top facts.

Here’s how she puts it…


Rugby Union is different to Rugby League.

Rugby Union has 15 players a side, with 7 replacements (or reserves). So, in total, there are 22 players in a squad.

Players are numbered 1-15. Numbers 1-8 are called the Forwards, and numbers 9-15 are called the Backs.

The ball is egg shaped, not round.

The game is 80 minutes long, divided into two halves of 40 minutes.

You always have to pass the ball backwards.

The game starts with a kick, which is called a Drop Kick. This means the ball must bounce off the floor before it is kicked. But it must travel at least 10m and not be kicked off the pitch.


You can score 2, 3 or 5 points in rugby, the only scores you can’t achieve in a game of rugby are 1, 2 and 4.

Try – grounding the ball in the area behind the H posts =5 points

Conversion – a kick at the H posts after a try, the kick must take place in a vertical line from where the try was scored. The player taking the conversion has one minute to take the kick or it will be disallowed  =2 points
Penalty – if one team fouls the other they may be awarded a penalty, and so they have a few options;
1. Take a quick penalty and tap the ball with their foot and run,
2. Do a set move from the penalty, 
3. Chose a scrum,
4. Kick the ball out of the pitch and be awarded a line out where the ball left the pitch,
5. Kick for the H posts =3 points
Drop goal– any player during open play may have a kick at goal. It must be a drop kick so the ball must touch the floor before it is kicked = 3 points

The Offside Rule

At the start of a game all players are onside. As the match progresses players may find themselves in an offside position. Such players are then liable to be penalised until they become onside again.

In general play a player is offside if the player is in front of a team-mate who is carrying the ball, or in front of a team-mate who last played the ball. The easiest way to think about it is; think of a line going through the ball to either side of the pitch, you have to stay on your side of the ball.

Our Glossary

Scrum – The forwards (numbers 1-8) contest for the ball if a non-penalty foul has occurred.

Line out – The forwards (numbers 1-8) contest for the ball if it has gone out of play (bit like a throw in, in Netball but they get to lift each other up!)

Tackle – When a player has the ball he is known as the ball-carrier. When he has the ball he may be tackled by any of the players from the opposing team. The tackle must be below the shoulder or it will be classed as ‘high’.
Passing – In rugby you must always pass the ball backwards. If a forward pass occurs, accidental or not, the referee will stop play and award the opposition a scrum. If the ball is knocked forward, not from the leg or foot, then it is classed as a knock on, and again a scrum will be awarded. If it has come off of the foot then it is classed as a kick.
A ruck – A ruck is a phase of play where one or more players from each team, who are on their feet, in physical contact, close around the ball on the ground. Open play has ended.
Players are rucking when they are in a Ruck and using their feet to try to win or keep possession of the ball, without being guilty of foul play.
A Maul – This is when the ball carrier has been held up. So when a maul is formed it must consist of at least three players; two from the ball carrying team and one from the opposition, all on their feet.
Referee – Different to football, the referee points at the team who has been awarded the possession. Referees generally have a lot of respect from the players in rugby (so slightly less drama queens than in Football!)
Red and yellow cards – if a player goes against the laws of the game then the referee may penalise him by giving him a card. A yellow card means he is suspended for 10 minutes, he will leave the pitch and his team will have to play with 14 mean for the next 10 minutes. This is known as ‘The Sin Bin’. A red card means he is sent off of the pitch and cannot return to that game, so his team will have to play with a man down for the rest of the game. These cards will mean a penalty awarded to the other team..

The 6 Nations

This is a tournament played every year during February & March time. It is a 6-way-round-robin, so each team will play the other 5. You get 2 points for a win and 0 for a loss, this goes onto a table and the team with the most points will win. If a team wins all 5 matches then they win the ‘Grand-Slam’.

The six nations are: England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France and Italy.

The teams all have their respective stadiums in their own country. They will play a team at home one year then the following year it will be away so as to make it fair.
To pop dates in the diary for impressing your friends with all your Rugby related facts!

So there you have it. Your Average Jane’s crash course in Rugby Union. Now you can spectate in style, with a wealth of knowledge about the wonderful game…and not feel quite so guilty about drooling!!

Our top eye candy this year is England’s Danny Care…eyes on Number 9 ladies! And Wales’ gorgeous Leigh Halfpenny!


Oh, and remember the England Ladies team compete in the Six Nations too, although they don’t televise it, but they certainly deserve a big bundle of support. Come on the Girls!

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