Rugby A-Z 101

After my resounding performance a few weeks ago (30 views) I’m back for round 2 of Rugby 101. Today we will simplify what rugby is, and what those wacky British announcers are saying.

Before we start, here’s an update on your favorite American rugby squad.

7.18 L 21-16 to Samoa
7.24 W 23-18 over Japan
7.29 L 33-19 to Tonga
8.3 vs Canada PNC2015 Fifth Place Match

Including tonight, there are 4 more matches (or tests) before the World Cup begins. 2 against our neighbors to the North, 1 against the Harlequins (an Aviva Premiership team who finished 10-12 last year and avoided relegation), and 1 against Australia (they’re pretty good). If the US can take 2 of the 4 matches, they’ll be in prime shape for the Rugby World Cup. Ideally, we beat Canada twice and the Harlequins and keep it close against Australia. We’ll see. Tonight’s main goal is to beat Terrance and Phillip

Now back to why you’re all here. Rugby A-Z 101 with Professor PWagon. Sit down, take notes, laugh a little, love rugby more than when you started this.

Rugby is a little bit like soccer with less kicking, basketball with less jumping, and football with less people spelling strong S-k-r-o-n-g. The aim of it is to get the ball into the try zone, which is the same exact thing as an endzone. However, you have to touch the ball down (touch-down, get it?) in the try zone to be award a Try at an extra two points.

If you are tackled, a ruck is formed over your body. Resembling a car crash or a goalline play at the line of scrimmage, rucks are BRUTAL. The offensive team forms a type of human shield over the ball carrier and allows the scrumhalf to restart play. The defensive team tries to crash into them to turn the ball over. Men get to be men here.

Ireland vs England. Ruck on the try-line.

You can’t pass forward in rugby, a foreign concept to football converts thanks to Knute Rockne revolutionizing the forward pass (#GoIrish). The ball has to be passed backward for it to be played forward, if not it’s a penalty and a scrum is awarded.

But Pwagon, what’s a scrum? Good question. Simply put it’s this

Couldn’t read that? It’s when players bind together and drive for control of the ball. There’s a guy in the middle, the hooker, who tries to hook the ball back with his feet so play can restart.

Play can also be restarted with a lineout, which is essentially a jump ball in basketball and one of the coolest aspects of rugby. Two men lift a third in the air to jockey for position for a thrown in ball.


More interesting lineout

If there is a penalty, teams have the option to kick for touch to restart the game with a lineout (which you now know what it is), having a scrum (+2!), kicking for points (in American terms, a FG attempt, worth 3 points), or tapping quickly to take a run for it to catch the opposing team off balance.

There are also yellow and red cards in rugby, much like soccer, however if a player gets a yellow card he is sent off the pitch (field) for 10 minutes. This is akin to the penalty box in hockey and many commentators refer to it as the “sin bin”. If the player gets another yellow, or the penalty is vicious enough to warrant a more harsh treatment, the player will be given a red card and is sent off the pitch for the remainder of the match (and possible subsequent matches).

There are more rules to rugby but even though I played at a high level, I’m still learning them. The beauty of the sport is you can watch it and pick up what is happening very quickly. Unlike the ugly step-brother Rugby League.

The most unique thing about rugby is the lack of a player number. The first 15 players wear a jersey the corresponds to the position that they play. Numbers 1-8 are referred to as the Forwards, which are like linemen in football, they’re usually bigger and have a temper to them. Numbers 9-15 are backs, these guys usually have fabulous hair and are like the Ronaldos of the rugby team.

1. Loose head prop

2. Hooker

3. Tight Head prop

These front 3 are what the NFL would consider linemen, they’re bigger and they provide most of the push in the scrum.

4. Lock
5. Lock

Taller guys, they lock in the front 3 by binding on to them in the scrum.

6. Blindside flanker
7. Openside flanker
8. Eight man (kind of like 6God I guess. I’m team Drake)
The “loose forwards” play quicker in scrums and have a bit more talent with ball handling and rugby in general, these guys are more athletic and are almost like Tight Ends in football.

9. Scrum half
The link between the forwards and the backs, responsible for getting the ball out of scrums, will mix it up in rucks if needed.

Laura Wright is bae.

10. Fly Half
The Quarterback of the team.

11. Left Wing
12. Inside Center
13. Outside Center
14. Right Wing
These 4 positions are like a hockey forward line, they’re fast, and they are able to make people miss when they run with the ball.

15. Fullback
The last line of defense against a breakaway run, also responsible for kicking the ball out of the territory if the opposing team is attacking. Like a goalie in soccer or a Safety in football.

This was long and drawn out but thats rugby 101 for you. Next time we’ll go in depth to the groups and my picks for RWC2015.

Thanks for reading. Let’s Go Eagles

PS: Is there any other logo in the world that uses the Eagle as well as the United States does? That rugby logo is awesome. I love America.


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