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The Most Important Rugby Laws

Part of the Rugby Union For Dummies Cheat Sheet (UK Edition)

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.

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