Rugby is a fast-paced game with basic rules that look like a combination between soccer and American football. Players run with, kick, and pass an oval-shaped ball in an attempt to get it into the goal area or between the goal posts. It is easy to get started with a pick-up game of rugby once you know the basics, although the rules have further details that will be enforced at a competitive level.
Two teams of 15 players each compete in a rugby match. To play, they need a field, called a pitch, measuring no more than 100 meters long and 70 meters wide. There is an end zone of up to 22 meters at each end of the pitch. At each goal line, there are goal posts 5.6 meters apart and three meters from the ground. A match has two 40-minute halves, separated by a halftime of up to 10 minutes, during which the teams switch sides on the pitch.
During the rugby match, players can move the ball using a few methods. Players can pass the ball by tossing it laterally or backwards, but not forwards. Players can also kick the ball forward, and anybody from either team can catch the ball, either before or after it touches the ground. Lastly, any player can run with the ball, but must release the ball as soon as he is tackled and touches the ground. At that point, other players gather around the ball and form a ruck, which is when teams gather around the ball, hold onto each other, and push against each other to try to kick the ball backwards out of the ruck.
There are four ways to score points in a rugby match. The best way is to get five points with a "try," which is touching the ball to the ground in the goal area at the opponent's end of the field. After getting a try, the team gets a chance to earn two points for a conversion by kicking the ball through the goal posts. Teams can also earn three points for a drop kick, which is dropping the ball onto the ground and kicking it through the goal posts at any point during the game. Lastly, teams can earn three points by making a penalty kick after a serious foul.
Each half begins with a kickoff where one team kicks the ball toward the other. Play continues until the ball goes out of bounds, called a line out, or the referee calls a rule infraction. If the ball goes out of bounds, teams line up across from each other and a player tosses the ball between them to begin play again. After a rule infraction, teams form up in a scrum, which is a tight formation of interlocked players. One player rolls the ball into the center and players push until a player kicks the ball back to his team.