Drop goals, tries, conversions and penalties are all ways of scoring in rugby. One sport and four ways of scoring: isn't that a bit much, I hear you ask? And how do you tell them apart? We explain the key differences to shine a light on what's happening on the pitch. 


Scoring in rugby can earn you between 3 and 7 points. The try is the most well-known and most eagerly anticipated scoring action during rugby matches. A conversion is what earns your try even more points. But sometimes you need to use other moves to score points and take the lead, such as the drop goal


A try is when a player grounds the ball over the opponent's in-goal line.

You automatically score 5 points. You then have the chance to convert the try via a conversion kick.

This earns you 2 additional points and takes the score up to 7!

There are also "penalty tries". These are awarded by the referee after a series of penalties near the in-goal line or when the defence deliberately stops an open play that would have led to a try.



A penalty is a kick from where the foul was committed.

Penalties are awarded by the referee for serious fouls. For minor fouls, the referee can award a scrum.

Play then stops and the kicker takes their penalty. The opposing team must stand at least 10 metres away.

There are several options available to the team taking the penalty: go for the goal, kick the ball into touch, or play a scrum.

If the ball is kicked towards the goal, the referee awards 3 points if the ball passes between the posts and over the horizontal bar.


The drop goal can be taken at any time during play. It is a technical play performed by a specialist kicker

The player drops the ball on the ground before kicking it.

The aim is to send it between the posts to score 3 points.

Play restarts from the centre of the pitch, like after a try or penalty goal.