Essential Rugby Glossary

Rugby payers
Resource added: 16 August 2023

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Want your students to get to grips with rugby union terminology?

Then this poster series is for you!

We’ve highlighted some of the essential rugby terms that your students should know.

What's on the 'Essential Rugby Terms' poster?

Advantage

Designed to make the game more continuous and reduce the number of stoppages, this refers to the period of time after an infringement that allows the non-offending team the opportunity to gain sufficient territory or tactical opportunity to negate the need to stop the game.

Backs

Players (usually numbered 9 to 15) who do not take part in scrums and line-outs (except for the scrum-half).

Binding

The way that players grip onto each other to form a secure scrum, ruck or maul – important for the safety of players.

Clearance Kick

When the ball is kicked into touch, taking the pressure off of the defending side. 

Conversion

After a try, the team who scored it is given the chance to kick a goal from a spot perpendicular to the one where the try was awarded. If successful, the conversion is awarded and the team get an extra two points.

Drop Goal

When a player kicks for goal in open play by dropping the ball onto the ground and kicking it on the half-volley. Scores three points.

Dummy

A feigned pass designed to trick an opponent about to make a tackle.

Forward Pass

In rugby, all passes must go backwards. A forward pass is illegal and earns a penalty – in this case, a scrum in favour of the opposition.

Forwards

The group of players (usually numbered 1-8) who bind together in scrums, take part in line-outs and commit themselves to most rucks and mauls.

Free Kick

An uncontested kick, usually awarded for a minor infringement by the opposition. A free kick cannot be taken directly at the posts, except by way of a drop-goal.

Front Five

Also known as Tight Five, this is a collective name for the front (hooker and props) and second row (locks) forwards.

Front Row

This is the name given to the prop/hooker/prob combination at the front of the scrum. 

Knock On

This refers to the ball being lost, dropped or knocked forward from a players’ hand. When this happens, the ball is awarded to the opposing team in a scrum.

Lineout

A set play used to restarts play if the ball has been taken out or kicked to touch. The forwards of both teams line up opposite each other. The ball is then thrown directly between the two lines - teams often lift a jumper to try to intercept the throw and win the ball.

Maul

When a ball carrier is held by an opponent but not brought to the ground, and one or more of the ball carrier’s teammates bind on the ball carrier. A maul is considered to have started when at least three players (i.e. the ball carrier, one or more of their teammates and an opposing player) are all bound to the maul, on their feet and moving towards a goal line.

Penalty Kick

An uncontested kick awarded to a team for a major infraction by the other team. This can be taken directly at goal and scores three points if successful. If the ball is kicked in to touch the throw-in is awarded to the team that kicked the ball out of bounds.

Pushover Try

A try scored by the forwards in a scrum by pushing their opponents backwards across the try line, while simultaneously dragging the ball underneath them – the try is usually awarded when the scrum-half or the No.8 touches the ball down after crossing the try line.

Ruck

Usually evolves from a tackle and happens when one or more players from each team who are on their feet and in close physical contact close around the ball on the ground.

Scrum

The formation used in the set play restarting play after a knock-on or forward pass. Each team’s forwards bind together and then the two packs come together. The scrum-half with the feed then feeds the ball into the scrum. A scrum can be awarded in different circumstances if the referee chooses to do so.

Scrum-Half

The player who normally feeds the ball into the scrum and retrieves the ball at the base of scrums, rucks and mauls. Usually wears No. 9.

Sin Bin

When a player receives a yellow card, he is sent off the pitch for 10 minutes – this is known as the ‘sin bin’.

Test

Refers to a match between two national teams.

Try

When the ball is carried over the try line, or kicked across the try line and touched down to the ground by a player. Five points are awarded for a try.

Turnover

When a side takes possession of the ball from their opponents.

Like this?

We hope you found these posters useful. If you did, you may also like our ‘Anatomy of a Rugby Pitch’ poster, which will help your students to familiarise themselves with the layout of a rugby pitch.

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