Rugby Glossary

Rugby Glossary


This is the ‘touchdown’ of rugby and occurs when a player gets the ball into the opposing team’s end zone and that player is able to touch the ball to the ground (if the opposing team can get their bodies underneath the ball, it is ‘held up’ and no points will be awarded). A try is worth five points in rugby union and four points in rugby league. 


Think field goal in football! A goal is scored when the ball is kicked through the uprights at the end of the field. A goal can be scored mid-game from a drop kick (worth three points), from a penalty kick (usually from a plastic tee and worth three points) or after scoring a try (called a conversion and worth two points).

Drop Goal

When a player kicks the ball from their hands through the uprights in the try area. The ball must go from the players hands, bounce off the ground and then be kicked through the posts to score points. Watch some examples here.


A contest for the ball involving eight players who bind together and push against the other team’s assembled eight for possession of the ball. Scrums restart play after certain minor infractions. Check one out here.

Scrum cap

You know that weird thing that looks like a fabric helmet? Well, that’s called a scrum cap and its purpose is to protect a player’s ears while in the rough n’ tumble scrum. If you want to see what happens when a player doesn’t wear a scrum cap just take a look at this


A maul is formed when at least three players from either team are standing up in contact, challenging or driving the player with the ball.


The ruck is similar in principle to the maul but instead of the ball being held up by players, it is on the ground and players are driving over it for possession. Here's a how-to.

Line Out

No, rugby players aren’t doing cheerleading moves in the middle of a match (although, TBH, that would be a lot of fun). A line out occurs when the ball is thrown, kicked or tackled out of bounds. Two players on each team are lifted into the air beside each other, while the hooker (number 2) on the team in possession throws the ball into play, ~hopefully~ getting it to a teammate being lifted.

Knock on

When a player drops, knocks or pushes the ball forward this results in loss of possession and the other team being awarded a scrum. This is because the ball is only allowed to move backwards.

Blood bin

A blood bin or replacement occurs when a player sustains a cut and is bleeding badly. At this time, a replacement is allowed while the injured player receives treatment for their cut and is allowed back to the field if they can stop the bleeding within 15 minutes. Once this time elapses, the temporary replacement becomes permanent and the injured player is not allowed back on again. Bloody hell.


A cap is a metaphorical term for when a player participates in an international match for their country. Retired New Zealand rugby player Richie McCaw holds the record for most international career rugby caps with 148. Caps are also awards in other sports, like soccer/football.

Beer up

The best part of rugby! After a game, the home team invites the visiting team to the local pub for a meal and beer to celebrate (no matter who won or who lost). Friends, family and fans also join in on the celebrations. Talk about some good ol’ fashioned sports(wo)manship. It’s also where a player might have to shoot the boot and chug a beer from a rugby cleat (boot) if they happened to score the first try of their career. Sports traditions are weird AF sometimes…