How to get into rugby

I once watched Superbowl with a buddy and I was feeling really excited about the whole thing. We bought jerseys, a truckload of beer and Googled the rules. Wait.. there are 2 teams on each team? Ok whatever, we were sure that we’d pick it up as we went along; it’s just a sport right? Wrong. After 6 hours of the most stop-start, mystifying riddle of a game, I decided that it wasn’t for me. The Indianapolis Colt 45’s beat the New Orleans, something’s, in a awkwardly peculiar game which made me think; I’m gonna stick to rugby.

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I recently introduced my girlfriend to the delights of rugby and she didn’t have a clue what was going on so I thought I would write a little blog on how to get into the sport. She didn’t quite get it until I showed her a video of the New Zealand team performing a haka. The haka is a Māori war dance that is a traditional display of a tribe’s pride, strength and unity. If you haven’t seen it:

Rugby came into existence in the early 19th century when the fantastically named William Webb Ellis was playing football, or soccer to Americans, and seemingly got frustrated with not being allowed to touch the ball with his hands. He picked up the ball, ran the length of the pitch and scored the world’s first ever try, or touchdown for Americans. This took place in an English town called Rugby, and so the sport was born. Britain exported the game to its colonies and various protectorates, hence the reason South Africa, New Zealand and Australia are 3 of the top teams in the world.

Rugby fan? Let me know on my Facebook page or in the comments below.

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Here’s the basics:

A match last 80 minutes, separated into 2 halves of 40 minutes with a ten minute break in the middle. Each team has 15 players divided into 8 forwards and 7 backs. The aim is to score points by carrying the ball and touching it down over the tryline. You can kick the ball if necessary, but you are not allowed to throw the ball forward; only backwards. If the ball moves forward, the referee will call a scrum and the other team will have possession, depending on the outcome of the scrum. You can see the below video for an explanation of a scrum:

Scoring points:

A team will score 5 points if they get a try and 2 for the following conversion, which is a sort of bonus points opportunity to score extra points if the kicker can kick the ball between the posts. 3 points are awarded for a successful conversion of a penalty kick. There are many ways that a penalty can be awarded and the team has a choice in what they can do. They can get a lineout by kicking the ball out of the field which might be advantageous in terms of territory. You can also score a drop goal from open play if you can drop the ball, and kick it after it hits the floor with the ball going between the posts. This is worth 3 points.

There are many rules to rugby that you will pick up as you go along. Rugby is an extremely physical sport and a tough game to play but it can inspire passion that I have not seen in any other sport. If you doubt the passion it invokes, just watch this phenomenally spine-tingling motivational video from a proud New Zealand supporter.

How to start?

How to get into it? Join a local club and start training with them. Learn the game and the rules and don’t be afraid to take a few hits. Rugby is a tough sport sometimes but it’s also incredibly rewarding. You can see the future Malaysian stars in the video below:

Rugby fan? Let me know on my Facebook page or in the comments below.

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