The Springboks take on England on Saturday, and for most rugby-loving fans, this post is a joke – but for many readers who don’t understand the game, here’s a better understanding. This beginners guide to understanding rugby ensures that you won’t be left out at the next chat over the braai and can get involved in the upcoming match. Not all of us know the ins and outs of the game and these basic points are sure to help you wrap your head around it.

Detailed plan of players.     Graphic: Honda HEAT

5 need-to-know facts 

Game details 

Rugby or popularly known as ‘rugga’ is a two team sport – each team is made up of 15 players each. The aim of the game is to get the ball across the line of the opposing team and to do so within the game time of 80 minutes. The game is split into two halves which are each 40 minutes in duration.

A Try

A try is achieved when a team player is able to get the ball in the in-goal area of the opposing team and touch the ground. To win the match, the team has to have the highest number of tries. A total of five points is given to the team when a try is scored. There are three types of tries, conversion, a penalty kick and a drop goal.

If a team scores a try they are given a conversion, where the player is able to kick the ball through the goal post and if they are successful, the team is awarded an extra two points. The kick is taken from a distance to get a good line up to score.

A penalty kick when an opposing team breaks a rule and the referee gives the team a chance. A successful kick is given three points as long as it goes through the goal post sails.

A drop-goal is when a player kicks the ball from hand through the goalposts – if they are successful in doing so and sails over the goal post cross bar, then they are awarded three points.


When attempting to score, a maul usually forms between three players – the player with the ball, an opposing team member and a member of the team who holds onto the ball. All players must be standing to continue the game and be considered a maul.

A Scrum

When minor infringements or rules are broken that do not result in any teams having an advantage, a scrum is formed. A scrum is when the eight forwards of both teams come together and hook into each other and place opposing forces on each side. The rugby ball is then thrown into the middle of the scrum and which ever team gets the ball first is able to gain an advantage.

What a scrum looks like.    Graphic: SportSG


Although rugby may appear a rough game, there are some serious offences that are not acceptable during the game, such as; punching or tripping other players. Other foul moves include obstructing opponents and tackling players when they are in the air.

Learn how to apply your new rugby knowledge while watching the match on Saturday.


Picture: Kirstyn Paynter/Unsplash


Article written by


We love this place! Cape Town Etc features news, reviews, entertainment and lifestyle in the Mother City.