Main rules of the game:
Rugby can be played with hands (only backward passes are permitted) as well as feet (for forward and backward passes). Various techniques can be used to stop an opposition player except for: attacking without the ball, tripping a player, taking hold of his head or neck, hitting, biting and pinching. Two teams take part in the game. Nowadays, seven-a-side version of rugby is waiting to make its debut as a recognized Olympic sport. A team in the standard version, however, consists of 15 players and is divided into two formations: "the pack" (numbers 1-8) and backs (players 9-15). Player number 9, the so-called scrum half, is the brain of the team. Interestingly, he is often the smallest and lightest player on the pitch.
The pack is made up of the heaviest, tallest and strongest players, whilst the backs include the fastest. Rugby players are called "the ultimate athletes" since they should be fast as sprinters, strong as wrestlers, agile as judokas and they need the stamina of long-distance runners. A match consists of two 40-minute halves with a five minute interval during which the players do not leave the pitch. Rugby should be played on a grassy field with maximum dimensions of 70x100 m.
The following lines are marked on a rugby pitch:
- solid lines: sidelines and end zone lines - an area along the pitch up to five metres behind the goal, 22 metres away from each goal.
- dotted lines: parallel to sidelines and five metres from them, painted to mark the minimum distance the ball must travel to be put back into play after it has gone into touch; ten metres from the halfway line on each side of it to mark the minimum distance for the ball to travel after a kick from the centre of the field; parallel to and five metres from the end zone lines.
- dashed lines: six lines, each of them one metre long.
A team can score maximum points in one go for the so-called try. A try is worth five points and is scored by grounding the ball in the opposition's end zone. After a try the team can attempt a conversion, i.e. a player takes a kick at the goal from any point directly opposite where the ball has been grounded. To score two extra points, a player should send the ball above the crossbar and between the opposition's goalposts. Penalty kicks and drop goals are also ways of scoring points. They are worth three points and can be taken from all parts of the pitch. The team which has scored more points than the other wins the match.
The goal is H-shaped, 5.60 m wide. The crossbar is 3 m above the ground and the upright goal posts must be at least 3.40 m high.
The oval rugby ball should have the following dimensions: circumference (end to end) 740-770 mm, circumference (in width) 580-620 mm, length in line 280-300 mm, weight 410-460 g, air pressure 0.67-0.70 kg/cm² i.e. 65.71-68.75 kilopascals.
Rugby players wear: jerseys, shorts, knee-high socks and shoes with studs. A player can also wear protective gear such as ankle support, shoulder padding, mouth guards, shin guards, fingerless gloves, head protection, bandages and kneepads to cover and protect wounds. Women, who are entering the ranks of rugby players with increasing frequency, must wear chest pads for protection.