The Basics of Rugby League
It’s simple; score more points than the other team.
Each team is given 6 chances to score or to tackle. If you don’t score after the sixth tackle, the ball is handed over to the opposition who then get their chance to score.
The 3 most important lines are the goal lines, deadlines and half-way line. There are also several (10, 20, 30, 40m) 10 metre markings from the touchline on the pitch to show where the scrums and restarts should be taken.
The game is broken in two halves of 40 minutes each with injury time being added on at the end of each half. In between the 2 halves there is a 10 minute break after which both teams switch ends and attack the half they were defending.
Play is only allowed to go on after the whistle or hooter has sounded if the ball is still in play. Play after the hooter or whistle has been sounded will stop once a tackle is made or the ball goes out of touch, however, time can be extended for a penalty kick or a kick for goal. In this case, the game ends when the next ball goes of play or a tackle has been made.
The ball can only travel backwards and cannot be passed forward at anytime. This also includes accidentally knocking the ball forward with your hands or arm when you shuffle. However, a ball can be kicked forward, in which case, is usually followed up by a player.
If the ball is knocked or passed forward, the referee will stop play and award a scrum to the other team. The scrum will be where the ball was knocked or passed forward and the opposition get to feed the scrum.
It is the only legal way of stopping the opposing team from gaining ground with the ball and certain laws such as the following are observed.
· You can only tackle a player with the ball.
· You can only tackle from the chest down and cannot make contact with the head.
· A player cannot be held down to deliberately be stopped from playing the ball.
· Once a tackle has been made, it is illegal to move the player from the point where the tackle was made.
· Once a player has hit the ground, the tackler is not allowed to steal the ball.
· If a player is in mid-air trying to catch a high kick, he cannot be tackled until he gets back on the ground. This is for safety reasons.
· A player cannot take a voluntary tackle, which is to go to the ground without being held by an opponent.
If these laws aren’t followed, penalties are given to the opposing team. Depending on how serious a tackle is the referee will show a yellow or worse, a red card.
Play the Ball
This is exclusive to rugby league and is what sets it apart from rugby union.
· The tackled player must immediately be released by the tackler and cannot be touched again until the ball is back in to play.
· After a tackle is made, the player holding the ball must lift the ball clear of the ground, face the opponent’s goal line and roll it under their foot to the player behind them, the acting half back.
· A player can play the ball to themselves by heeling it backwards, stepping over the ball and picking it up to run with it or to pass to another player but once they’ve done this, their team has one less tackle to play with.
Kicking to Touch
This is the best way to gain ground, especially on the 5th tackle. Touch is found when a player kicks the ball, which has bounced in the field of play before going over the touchline.
A scrum will take place opposite to where the ball went out of play, 20 metres inside the pitch. The advantage is with the team that didn’t kick the ball to touch because they get to feed the scrum. There are a few rules to remember when kicking to touch, which are:
· The ball must bounce in the pitch before it goes out. If the ball does not bounce before going out, then a scrum will take place where the kick was taken.
· If the ball is kicked out to touch on the full on the 5th tackle, the opposition restart play with a play-the-ball at the spot where the kick was taken.
· If the ball goes to ground on the touch line, the the ball will be out to touch.
Instead of awarding a penalty or scrum, the referee gives the side that has not committed the offence the advantage but this will only happen if it is in their favour. For example, if a player knocks the ball forward but the opposition gets the ball in a promising attack, the referee can play advantage.
The 20 Metre Restart
Play is restarted from the 20metre line if:
· An attacking player touches the ball before it goes out of play over the outline, except from a penalty or from a kick-off.
· If a defending player catches a kick from general play from an opponent well within their own in-goal goal.
The 40/20 Metre Kick
This is a good way to put pressure on your opponents with a long kick if:
· A player is standing on or behind their 40 metre line; they can gain ground by kicking the ball into their opponent’s 20 metre area. However, the ball has to bounce in the field of play before going out to touch inside the 20m area.
· The referee is happy all these things have happened; the attacking side receives the head and feed at the scrum.
This will most likely give the attacking team possession again and six more tackles in a promising position.
Once a player has been tackled, they must get up and play the ball.
Often when a player has been tackled close to the try line, they will often attempt to make another movement to ground the ball for the try.
However, if they have been tackled, the referee will not award the try because it is seen as a double movement.
The ball and the player have been grounded before the second movement for the try.
However, if the player is in the process of being tackled and the ball has not been grounded before the try line, then they can make a second movement for the score.
If an attacking team is under pressure they can force the defending team to drop out from under their own goalposts.
This happens when:
· A defending player brings the ball back over their own try line and grounds the ball in the goal area
· A defending player is tackled in their in-goal area
· A defending player kicks the ball in touch on the full from their own in-goal area
Every member of the defending team must be behind the kicker and the tryline when the kick is taken.
The ball must travel at least 10 metres forward.
The attacking team are pretty much guaranteed the ball every time, so the advantage is entirely with them.
For example, if the attacking team puts a clever kick behind the opposition's defence, a defender is often left with few safe options.
Surrounded by attackers looking to score a try on their goal line, their best bet is to ground the ball and relieve the pressure - but only for a short time.
Rugby League Infringement
In rugby league, you can only tackle a player in possession of the ball.
That means you cannot challenge your opponent at any other time.
Sometimes, a player will deliberately get in the way of an opponent without the ball because they think the attacker has a good chance of scoring a try.
If the referee sees this, a penalty will be awarded to the opposition and the defender could find themselves sitting in the sin-bin for 10 minutes after being shown a yellow card.
Foul and Dangerous Play
The main offences for foul and dangerous play are:
· Tripping: No player can trip up another player on purpose
· Striking: No player can hit an opponent with their arm or fist
· Kicking: No player can kick the ball when an opponent is trying to pick the ball up off the ground
· Dangerous play: No player can make a challenge to put their opponents at risk on purpose, for example a head-high tackle.
· Using abusive language
If the referee sees or hears any of these things, an instant penalty will be given.
A yellow card and a spell in the sin-bin are also likely.
Tackling is a huge part of rugby league but it's important to know how to tackle within the laws, so as not to give away a penalty.
Once the player with the ball has been tackled and brought to ground, the tackler must release them, allowing the opposition to play the ball.
Sometimes defenders can cleverly hold down the player with the ball to stop them playing the ball quickly.
But if a referee believes a player is deliberately holding down a player in the tackle, he will award a penalty to the team in possession.
The sin-bin is the bench where, in theory, all players cool off for 10 minutes after committing a serious foul or showing indiscipline.
If this happens, the referee shows them a yellow card, just like in football, but the punishment is immediate. They must leave the field straight away.
The game will continue without the player, putting their team at a disadvantage as they will only have 12 players on the field.
Offside in Open Play
Offside is quite a complicated rule of rugby league, so make sure you pay attention and listen to what the referee is saying.
If a player is in front of a team-mate in possession of the ball, or in front of their team-mate who last played the ball, they will be offside if:
· They are actively trying to play the ball
· They do not retire within 10m of an opponent waiting for the ball
· They move towards the opponents or the place where the ball lands without first coming back onside
The referee will award a penalty at the place where the offence took place.
Offside After a Tackle
Once a tackle has been made and completed, the referee will tell the team without the ball to get back 10m from the ball.
Only two players is allowed within the 10m and they are called the "markers".
Every other player must be behind the marker and 10m from the ball.
If they are not, the referee will award a penalty to the team with the ball.
If the attacking team are less than 10m from the try line, then the referee will tell the defending team to get behind the try line.
Offside at a Tackle
If one of your team-mates is about to kick a high up-and-under or a grubber kick to run onto, make sure you are level or just behind them when they kick.
If you are not, the referee will award your opponents a penalty because you are offside.
The rules say that to be onside at a kick, an active player not in possession of the ball, must be behind the player who kicks the ball.
If you are in front of the kicker, make sure you don't get involved with open play.
You can do this by raising your arms and running back to an onside position.
This shows the referee you have no intention of joining play because you know you're offside.
However, if you make no attempt to move back to an onside position as play continues, the referee will award a penalty to the opposition.