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Glossary of Terms

Advantage - occurs when an opposing team has caused a penalty in the middle of play. Instead of stopping the game, the referee will call "advantage" and allow play to continue. The team that has not caused the penalty (and thus gained the advantage) has an opportunity to gain at least 10 meters of territory before play is stopped. If they advance more than ten yards, the referee will say "advantage over" and game will resume normally. If the team does not advance, then the referee blows the whistle and a penalty play is called.


Attack/Attacking - the more proper term in rugby for "offense." The team that is "on attack" or "attacking" is the team that has possession of the ball and is trying to score. When possession is lost, the defense/opposing team becomes the attacking team (and it goes back and forth for the rest of the game).


Breakdown - place where a player is tackled and a "ruck" commences. All other players must be behind the last foot of the players involved in the breakdown (tackle or ruck).


Conversion - name of a field goal kick performed after scoring a try. The scoring team has an opportunity to kick the ball through the goal posts for two extra points. The kick is taken parallel to where the try was scored (so if scored on the far left side of the try zone, the kick will be taken on the far left side of the field).


Crash Ball (also known as a banger, punch, or forwards ball) - a type of play run by forwards. Travelling in packs of 3 or 4, one forward will run full speed to the left or right of a breakdown and receive a short pop pass from the scrumhalf. They will "crash" forward to draw in multiple defenders and create space for other attacking players on the field. The 2 or 3 players following behind the forward runner will "ruck" over the runner once they are tackled in order to maintain possession of the ball. 


Drop Kick - type of kick in rugby where the ball must touch the ground first before you are able to kick it. Drop kicks are used for kickoffs to restart play/begin the game.


Drop Goal - 3 points scored by drop kicking the ball through the goal posts in the middle of play. 


Dummy - term used for a "fake" or "decoy." A dummy pass is when a player will fake a pass to someone else but keep the ball. A dummy runner is a player that runs like they are about to receive a pass, but the passer will either keep the ball, pass to someone else, or kick the ball.


Forward Pass - when the ball fails to travel laterally or backwards. If the referee deems a forward pass accidental, then it will result in a "scrum." If the forward pass is deemed intentional, then a penalty is awarded.


Free Kick - one type of result from a penalty. The awarded team can kick the ball out of play, or they can play the ball on the field by having one player tap the ball off their foot and resume the game. The penalized team must quickly retreat backwards 10 meters before play resumes. If they are not 10 meters back and the attacking team taps the ball to run forward, they will be penalized again.


Gain Line - imaginary line across from where a tackle occurs. Advancing the ball across the gain line represents moving forward and gaining territory.


Grubber Kick - type of kick that causes the ball to roll and bounce off the ground, making it harder for the opposing team to catch and easier for the opposing team to cause a "knock on" penalty.


High Tackle - when a dangerous hit is made above the waist, a penalty is awarded. Depending on the severity, it can also result in a yellow or red card.


Knock On (or knock forward) - penalty when a player drops or loses possession of the ball and it falls forward. A knock on will result in a "scrum"


Line Out - play that results from the ball going out of bounds. Opposing teams lift players in the air to catch the ball that is thrown from the side line like a soccer throw-in. Both teams must have an equal amount of players in their line out. The attacking team can decide how many players they want in the line out, and then the defending team must either match that number or have fewer players in the line out. All other players not involved in the line out are at least 5 or 10 meters away.


Mark - location where a penalty occurred labelled by the referee. Penalty plays and scrums are performed at the designated "mark."


Obstruction - penalty when a player without the ball is in front of or in the way of the player with the ball. You cannot block for a ball runner in rugby.


Offsides - penalty when a player is lined up on defense past the last foot in a ruck. Similar to offsides in football and soccer, defenders must line up flat along the last foot of a player in the breakdown.


Ruck - formed after a player is tackled to the ground. Between 1-4 players from opposing teams push against each other over where the tackle occurs in order to gain or maintain possession of the ball. Once someone is tackled, they must release the ball. No one is allowed to enter the ruck or take the ball from the side. The ball must be taken from the end of the ruck.


Scrum - like a larger form of a ruck involving all 8 forwards from each team and opposing scrumhalves. Results from a penalty occurring. The ball is placed in the middle of the scrum and opposing teams will push against each other to try and win possession.


Touch - name for the sideline. "Kicking to touch" means kicking the ball out of bounds.


Try - the primary means of scoring in rugby, awarding the attacking team 6 points. Similar to a touchdown in football, you must bring the ball into your own "try zone" on one end of the field. However, unlike football where you simply have to cross into the zone, you have to physically place the ball on the ground in order for the try to be awarded. A defender can place a hand under the ball or hold onto it before it touches the ground in order for it to not count. This is called a try being "held up" and results in a scrum 5 meters away from the try zone.


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