A rugby game consists of two halves and one ten-minute break between them. We play 15s - that means 15 players on the pitch each with a specific position correlating to the player's jersey number and 7s - seven players on the pitch covering the same distance and keeping the same pace as 15s. For 15s halves range from ten minutes for players under ten-years-old, all the way to 40-minute halves for league-sanctioned games. Under19 (high school varsity) games can be played with 20-minute halves if both teams cannot field a full 15-person team and agree to the shortened halves. League-sanctioned games must be played with a minimum of two 20-minute halves. Regional and state tournaments are played with 40-minute halves. For 7s, there are two seven-minute halves divided by a two-minute break.
Play is continuous; that means the game DOES NOT STOP and continues to be played through penalties and injuries. The play stops when the ball goes out of bounds, or when the referee blows the whistle. Additionally, the game ends when the play ends. That means, as long as the ball stays in bounds and the team with possession maintains control of the ball, the end-of-half or end-of-game whistle can blow and the game keeps going. The clock continues to run even during a game stoppage, but time is added at the end of the half to make up for it. Each team is only allowed seven substitutions per 15s game, and players can re-enter the game if substituted out. There are five substitutions allowed in 7s.
There is one referee on the pitch with two assistants. “Yes, sir” or “no, sir” or “yes, ma’am” or “no, ma’am” is the only acceptable form of communication with the referee and his/her assistants. The most egregious behavior on the pitch is to argue with the referee. This will result in removal from the pitch for two-minutes or being completely removed from the game. Use profane language on the pitch or behaving in a manner which violates the Code of Conduct will also result in immediate disciplinary action. The only people allowed to talk to the referee are the team captains. Coaches and trainers are not allowed to talk to the players or referee during the game. Therefore, team dynamics and captain communication are essential to play.
The ball can only be moved forward by running or kicking. Passing is allowed, but not in front of the ball handler. A try is scored when the ball is placed (or grounded) between your team’s try lines. This is worth five points. Two additional points can be made if the ball is kicked between the uprights. However, the kicker must kick the ball from the position the ball was grounded when scoring the try.
For a more detailed breakdown of the game, including descriptions of positions, vocabulary, and a breakdown of how points are scored, please visit Princeton Athletic Club Rugby.
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