Rugby League Playing Guide


Each Rugby League team has 13 players & 4 substitutes available at any time in the game. Each team is made up of 7 'backs' and 6 'forwards'. The backs are generally regarded as the attacking players and usually have more pace than the bigger more powerful forwards who are usually the 'yard' makers.

On-field Positions

Rugby League Positions


Object Of The Game: For one team to score more points than the other team. A team can score points through scoring a 'try' or kicking a 'goal'. Each team in effect, is given six tackles or chances to score. If after six tackles they have not achieved this then the ball is given to the other team who then also have the chance to score with six tackles. If a team has not scored by the fifth/last tackle then the 'acting half-back' will generally pass the ball to the teams 'kicker' who will punt the ball downfield in order to gain 'territorial advantage'. The only disadvantage to this tactic is that if the ball goes out of play on the 'full' before bouncing, the opposition gain possession of the ball form where the kick was originally made. It becomes slightly more complicated than this, but if you grasp this concept then you will have a greater understanding of the game.

Key phrases and terms

A Try A try is worth four points and is scored when one team's player touches the ball down over the goal line/try line of the opposition . A conversion follows and is worth two points if successful. This is achieved by kicking the ball over the cross bar and between the goal posts. For a try and conversion a team will thus score 6 points.

Forward Pass/knock on The ball can only be passed in a backwards motion between players. Therefore, if the ball is passed in a forward motion towards the opponents goal-line or knocked forward by the attacking team when attempting to catch it, then play will stop and will be re-started with a scrum awarded to the opposing team.

Scrum The two sets of 'Forwards' (six from each team) lock together and the ball is put into the middle by the "Scrum-half" of the team that have been awarded the scrum (called the feed). In modern day rugby, the team feeding the scrum will nearly always win possession from the scrum.

Play The Ball After a tackle is made, the tackled player restarts the action and the next "tackle" by standing upright and rolling the ball through his legs to a team-mate stood directly behind him. The opposing team must stand at least 10 metres in front of the player when this is taking place.

Offside Several different types but the most common is when at least one member of the opposing defending team, encroaches within the ten metres at the play the ball - a penalty will result. This offence usually leads to the greatest number of penalties within a game and causes the most distress amongst the fans!

Penalty Awarded for any foul or rule contravention. The team awarded the penalty can either kick for goal, or kick for touch and take six more tackles level with where the ball landed in touch or continue with six more tackles.

Acting half-back This is a player from the attacking team who picks up the ball immediately following a play the ball and passes it to a team mate or makes an attacking run. He is generally the hooker.

Advantage Allowing the advantage means allowing play to proceed if it is to the advantage of the team which has not committed an offence or infringement.

Blood-bin Occurs when a player has blood showing or flowing from a wound. The referee instructs the player to leave the pitch in order to clear up the blood injury so that it is not visible. The player may leave the field for a maximum period of 10 minutes. Any longer and this temporary substitution becomes a permanent one.

Dead Ball Means that the ball is out of play. i.e. the field of play.

Drop Goal his type of kick is worth one point to a team if kicked successfully. Sometimes referred to as a field goal, this is a goal scored by propelling the ball on the full, over the cross bar by drop kicking it.

Dummy The pretence of passing or otherwise releasing the ball whilst still retaining possession of it in attempt to cause confusion to the defending team.

40/20 Rule This was introduced to reward excellence in kicking for touch. If a player kicks the ball into touch and he is within 40 metres of his own line, (the 40 metre line is marked on the field of play) if the ball BOUNCES into touch within the 20 metre area of his opponents half, then the side who have kicked the ball will have head and feed at the resulting scrum. This virtually guarantees possession in an attacking position and is just reward for a precise kick covering over half the length of the field.

Kick-off The method of restarting the game at the beginning of each half or after a try, drop-goal or goal has been scored.

Kicker Each side generally has a kicker who takes kicks either in general play and/or kicks for goal. Any player from either side may kick at any point in play however.

Obstruction Is the illegal act of impeding an opponent who does not have the ball.

Marker Is a player from the defending team who stands directly in front of the attacking player at the play the ball following a completed tackle. The marker must stand directly in front of the tackled player and not move until the play the ball has been completed otherwise he will be penalised.

Play the ball Is the act of bringing the ball into play after the tackle has been completed by the team with the ball.

Referee The man in charge of keeping control of the game and making sure that the game is played within the rules of the sport. He is present on the pitch at all times and it is his job to award penalties to teams if required and make any decisions whilst still maintaining the flow of the game.

Sin-Bin Occurs when a player from either team commits an offence which the referee deems to be more serious than an ordinary foul. The referee shows the offending player a 'yellow card' which means that the offending player must leave the field immediately for a period of 10 minutes.

Substitutes There are 4 on each team and can be introduced at appropriate moments in the game to replace another player from the same team.

Squad Numbers These were introduced for the start of Super League in order for every team's Super League squad member to be identified with a consistent number(s) which they kept for an entire season. Was introduced as a promotional tool so fans could identify with their heroes.

Territorial Advantage Each team aims to spend as much time as possible in the oppositions half , this is known as territorial advantage.

Zero Tackle Kick reception resulting from an opponents kick in general play. Can also be applied by recovering the ball when lost by the opposition in a set of six tackles. Effectively creates seven tackles.


  • 6 Stand-Off
  • 8 Prop
  • 9 Hooker
  • 10 Prop
  • 11 Second Row
  • 12 Second Row
  • 13 Loose Forward


  • 1 Full Back
  • 2 Right Wing
  • 3 Centre
  • 4 Centre
  • 5 Left Wing
  • 7 Scrum Half

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