DISCOVER THE VOCABULARY OF RUGBY

Why is it better to be tap tackled than high tackled?Our rugby glossary provides you with colourful definitions of the terms used in this sport.

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22 metres

You're nearly there! The 22 metre line marks the part of the pitch located just in front of the try line. In defence, you can call the mark, take a drop-out and kick directly into touch from the 22. When you're attacking, it means you are closer to scoring a try!

3/4

The three-quarters refers to the line of four players that occupy the third quarter of the pitch as defensive cover. You are the team's line of attack. You're fast, technical, athletic and dynamic.

8-9

The 8-9 move involves the No.8 and the scrum half, who wears the No.9 jersey, hence its name. From the scrum, the No.8 picks up the ball, peels away and draws the defence before passing the ball to the scrum-half.

A

Winger

On the wings of the three-quarter line are the No. 11 and 14, whose job it is to finish off moves. In attack, your pace is your main attribute, whether in space or traffic. You often have the luxury and responsibility of finishing a try scoring move.

Lineout

Throw-ins are often in rugby an art in themselves! During throw-ins, both teams can line up their forwards in two parallel lines to retrieve the ball. A successful line out subsequently lets you launch your game

Mixing it up

If you are half-back, mix it up! Play ball in hand to attack and quicken the pace of the game or kick it to play behind the opposition's back, gain territory and relieve your forwards... play it right and alternate!

Full-back

Here's number 15! You cover the pitch behind the three-quarter line. Last line of defence and up-and-under receiver, you are in charge of relaunching the attack by kicking or with ball in hand. In attack, you provide the overlap in the three-quarter line.

Backs

Backs plural refers to full-back, line three-quarter and half-backs, as opposed to your teammates in the forwards.

Advantage

If the opposing team commits an infringement in defence, the referee can let play go on. It's the moment to give it a go! If no advantage is gained, you go back to where the penalty was given.

Forwards

The forwards are the male or female players playing in positions from 1 to 8, which is called the pack or affectionately the "grunts".Power and strength are their watchword. Whether in the line out, the scrum or in the ruck, you are in charge of winning the ball, so your team can launch their attacks.

B

Ball

In rugby, the ball is oval shaped. It's easier to kick between the posts! Also called the pill, you can keep it warm in the maul, or make it sing with a string of passes, but always behind.

Try-scoring pass

This expression refers to a clear opportunity to touch-down in the opposition's in-goal area. So take off your mitts and keep cool as a cucumber! It's the time to really apply yourself.

Punt and drop kicks

This involves kicking the ball with your foot. If you are a male or female kicker, you are in charge of kicks for restarts, drop-outs and field position.

Kicking for goal

Subtle difference now. You also kick the ball with the foot, but this time you must kick the ball between the posts uprights for penalties, drop kicks and conversions. As the kicker, you must convert the score to reflect your team's dominance!

C

Sidestep

A classic one on one move in attack, but we never tire of it! Ball in hand, you make your opposing marker commit to the tackle by running towards them in one direction, then you evade them by side stepping them in the other direction

Centre

Numbers 12 and 13 are in the middle of the three-quarter line. Whether you line break, back-up or are technical, you support the fly-half and link up with wingers.

High kick

It's the backs and fly half speciality. In open play, you kick the ball behind the defence and sufficiently high to have enough time to sprint to where the ball will land. Piece of cake if you know how to sprint whilst looking up.

Half-back pairing

If you are scrum-half or fly half, you are half of the half back pairing! In positions 9 and 10, you perform the transition from forwards to three-quarter line and you take charge of the team's tactics, whether kicking and passing.

Reverse pass

The reverse pass is where you pass the ball behind your back. If you are a scrum-half, you sometimes find yourself in a situation where you try this pass to surprise the defence. Especially if you succeed it once out of ten.

Ball carrier

In rugby there are fleet-footed artists with quick hands. There are also safe ball carriers. You can rely on them to take on the first line of defence, safe in the knowledge the ball is secure.

Winning the ball

It's a key part of playing rugby and your main job as a forward. Ball winning is a contest to win possession of the ball.Your ball winning is based on phases where the ball is put in play (line out and scrum) and in rucks during open play.

High tackle

In rugby, the high tackle is forbidden! It refers to tackles over the shoulder line and it is heavily penalised.

Feint

Sides steps are the various changes in footwork to surprise your opponent. Easier if you are full back than if you are a second row player.

Switch pass

You switch pass when you pass the ball to your teammate that is passing behind your back in the opposite direction to your run. If you are a centre, you can make this your speciality.

Tap tackle

You are the last line of defence and the opposition player has escaped and is heading towards the try line.It's time to pull off the tap tackle! Dive to clip your opponent's feet with your hands just at the last moment. Effective, spectacular… and a bit lucky.

D

Clear out

You clear out the ruck by pushing your opponents with your arms. In attack, you are protecting the ball for your scrum-half. In defence, you can subsequently advance to retrieve the ball. The forwards are therefore the cleaning up and clearing out pros.

Scrum half

Number 9 and first half of the half backs partnership, you are often the slighter build on the pitch and especially the most agile. At the scrum, you guide the pack and retrieve the ball from the scrum and pass it to the number 10. Good passer of the ball, and whose voice can be heard are subsequently part of your skill set.

Fly half

Number 10 and second half of the half backs, your role is that of playmaker. In charge of managing attacks, you lead the three-quarter line and also take on most of the kicking duties. The fly-half is by nature creative and has vision.

Second row

Numbers 4 and 5, you are in the second row. Easy to remember. You are often tall, you are the pillars of the pack, for pushing in the scrum and carrying or jumping in the line out. At the front line of the rucks, you are the unsung heroes, invisible from the public and indispensable to your teammates.

Dribbling

This term refers to kicking the ball along the ground whilst running. We'll admit that the shape of the ball often leaves room for surprises. But sometimes, it's best to wait when you are in the in-goal area before diving on the ball.

Drop

To drop-kick, you drop the ball and kick it just after it has bounced to send it flying through the posts. If you succeed at pulling off this legendary kick, it's worth 3 points! Otherwise you can apologise for bundling the ball in any old direction.

E

Screening

In attack, you must always be behind the ball. If you are in front of the ball carrier and subsequently hindering the opposing player that comes in to tackle, you are screening the ball, and it's a penalty against your team

Knock-on

It's an absolute no no in rugby! If you drop the ball forwards, or if you make a forward pass, you lose possession. You can therefore get ready for a scrum down with the opposing team getting the put in.

In-goal

It's the promised land in rugby parlance. The in-goal is the area behind the posts where you must ground the ball to score a try. In defence, you can touch-down the ball in your own in-goal area for a 22 metre drop-out or a 5 metre scrum.

Try

To score that much sought after try, you much ground the ball in the opposing team's in-goal area. Since you've reached the end of the pitch, you are in the promised land. Congratulations, you've scored 5 points.

H

Offside

You must always be between your in-goal and the ball, otherwise you are offside! Over the width of the pitch, the offside line is determined by the position of the ball or by the foot of last player or the last player in the ruck.

M

Mark

The mark or clean catch is a defensive move. In defence in your 22, you can catch an up & under ball before it bounces. Perfect. Now raise your arm, call “mark!” and that's it.Or rather the games stop: you can perform a clearance kick without being under any pressure from opposing team.

Maul

In open play, stay upright with the ball and your partners come and bind to you creating a good old pressure cooker. Your opponents do the same thing, preventing you from advancing, which then turns into a maul. It's all the rage among the forwards.

Scrum

It's a symbol of rugby and the forwards' domain. After certain mistakes made by the opposition, you get the put in for the scrum. The pack binds together, bending down, pushing shoulder to shoulder facing the opposing pack. The scrum half feeds the ball into the scrum and the hooker "hooks" the ball backwards with their feet. The No. 8 then uses their feet to control the ball at the back of the scrum. It's a physical contest, but also an opportunity to launch the backs, who have the whole width of the pitch to attack with abandon.

D

Offload

A pass made by a player after they have been tackled and often while they are falling to the ground. A spectacular aspect of the game, an offload is a special piece of skill that keeps the ball moving.

Ovalie

Is the name derived from the oval shape of the rugby ball and used in French rugby parlance to refer to the world of rugby. A whole world awaits you.

P

Pack

If you play as a forward, you are part of the pack. The pack is made up of three rows: three front row players, two second rows and three back rows for a fine pack of forwards.

Offload

To perform a pass after contact play, you must place your arms behind your opponent when being tackled. You can subsequently pass the ball and carry on playing.

Miss pass

In rugby you can lob the ball over your own teammates! When making a miss pass, you miss out the teammate nearest to you to pass the ball directly to the next player.

Penalty

If the opposing team commits an infringement, you get a penalty.The opposing team must be 10 metres back and you can quickly play it out of hand to gain territory or kick 3 points

Kicking for touch from a penalty

This refers to one of the options in the event of a penalty. If you choose to kick into touch after an opponent's infringement, the throw-in goes to you. On top of gaining territory, you are therefore awarded the throw-in. So aim well!

Pick and go

Sometimes it's best to keep the ball warm, instead of throwing it out wide. In this case, and there's nothing like a pick & go: pick up the ball from the ruck (Pick) and advance (Go). You advance a bit, but you keep the ball protected, which the next forward picks up and so on

Prop forward

Number 1 on the left and number 3 on the right, you are part of the front row. You are the first line of defence. Your role is defined by strength and power, whether when charging ahead in attack, or during ball winning phases.

Tackle

It's the basic technique in defence. You use your arms to catch the opponent and drag them to the ground.You must always tackle a player below the shoulder line and let go of the player and the ball once on the ground. When your team goes forwards after a defensive tackle, it's called a choke tackle.

Q

Rugby union fan

In the world of rugby football, you have made a choice. If you choose to play 15-a-side, you are therefore a rugby union fan.

r

Hand-off

To protect the ball and avoid getting tackled as you charge ahead towards the opposing team's defence, you can use the hand-off. To perform a hand-off, carry the ball in the hand opposite to the opponent, and extend your arm to fend off your opponent by hand.

Switch the play

In rugby, attacks, and subsequently defences often drift across the pitch. The game is turned over, when a team concedes possession of the ball and the direction of play is reversed.

Ruck

After a tackle you must release a ball. Male and female players must then protect the ball on the ground by staying upright on their feet over the ball. You are now caught up in the middle of a ruck.

S

Sevens fan

Last to arrive on the rugby scene, 7-a-side is riding high and represents its sport at the Olympics since 2016. If you prefer short and intense rugby matches, then you are a 7-a-side fan.

Support

If you are isolated from your support when you line break or launch an attack, you risk losing the ball in the next ruck. Support refers to the teammates available around you when ball carrying.

T

Hook

You back heel the ball in the scrum or ruck. You make the ball roll with your feet towards your side, making it available to your scrum-half. It's normally the hooker's role. The number 9's role is to be there when you back heel.

Hooker

Between both props, you wear the number 2 shirt. On top of putting in the tackles and charging with your front row partners, you throw-in the ball at line outs and you back heel the ball in the scrums.

Kicking tee

In the old days, to kick your conversions and penalties, you could make a small mound of sand to place your ball. Today, plastic bases called tees replace the hard sand and keep the ball upright when kicking for a goal.

Open play

Open play refers to phases between rucks, during which the ball is alive. Open play can last quite a while during phases with movement and be very short during Pick & Go.

Touch

You can quickly play touch, but it's often a ball winning phase. In this case, the hooker throws the ball between both line ups. You have the right to lift or carry your teammates to catch the throw-in.

Conversion

After a try is scored, you can kick a conversion for 2 extra points. You must kick the ball between the posts, from the position at the width of the pitch where the ball was touched down. So we recommend you ground the ball between the posts, to make life easier.

Rugby league fan

If you have a preference for the 13-a-side format, you are rugby league fan!

Back row

In the middle at number 8, or flankers at 6 and 7, you live rugby as if it were a decathlon! You jump in touch, you guide the scrum, you tackle, you retrieve the ball in the rucks and you link up with other forwards and backs in attack. Power, technique, speed, you have nothing to prove in terms of versatility.

Now that you know a lot more about rugby vocabulary, can you switch play from a maul to a clearing kick? Tell us if you like our glossary and share your favourite rugby union expressions with us!

 

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