Struggling to follow what’s happening on the pitch in rugby? Use these handy pointers to get to grips with some of the basic rules and terminology of the game:

  • Offside: A player is offside in general play if he is in front of a team-mate who is carrying the ball, or in front of a team-mate who last played the ball.

  • Forward pass: An illegal pass to a player who is ahead of the ball; a player is not allowed to pass the ball forward to a team-mate.

  • Knock on: If a player drops the ball ‘forward’ – that is, towards the opposing team’s tryline – or loses possession of the ball and it goes forward, a scrum is set, with the non-offending team getting the scrum feed.

  • What goes on at the tackle: A tackle occurs when a standing player (the tackled player) is held by one or more opponents and brought to the ground, and/or the ball touches the ground. Any opponents of the tackled player who go to ground are known as tacklers.

  • Foul play: Play deemed by the referee as being dangerous, obstructive, unfair play or misconduct. The offending player is penalised, possibly sent to the sin bin or even sent off.