Rugby for Beginners
An introductory guide to a rapidly growing sport in America
Michael Hollerbach, DC Student
With Life Rugby preparing to go to Philadelphia for the Collegiate Sevens Championship, it is an exciting time here at Life University. Many students and faculty will be traveling to Philly June 2nd and 3rd to watch the tournament in person, while most will stay in Marietta and watch the games live on NBC. I would like to give those who are new to the sport a little bit of information to make the game more understandable and enjoyable.
The games are played on a field similar in dimension to an American football field, in two seven-minute halves with a three-minute half time, the exception being the championship game, which will be played with two ten minute halves. A typical rugby game has two forty minute halves. In Sevens, each team has seven players with only three player substitutions per game. Each team is allowed to have only twelve players on its roster for the entire tournament. This makes substitutions and line-ups a key strategy in Rugby Sevens.
The seven players on the field consist of three forwards and four backs. The forwards are typically bigger and taller while the backs are smaller, shiftier and quicker. Rugby Sevens is played on the same size field as traditional rugby, which has fifteen players per side. With fewer players on the field there is more room to maneuver and run. Having more space on the field increases the importance of precise passing, which is key for ball movement and control.
The scoring of rugby games is similar to football. The touchdown in rugby is called a ‘try’ and the player that crosses the goal line must touch the ball down on the ground with two hands. Following a try, the conversion kick is kicked from a spot directly in line with and up field from where the ball was touched down. For instance, if a player scores a try in the corner of the try-zone, the place kicker would have to bring the ball straight back down the sideline quite a distance to get a good angle to kick the ball through the uprights. Therefore, the closer to the middle of the field the try is placed, the easier the conversion kick. The try is worth five points and the extra point kick is worth two. There are penalty kicks worth three points, which happen following a penalty when a team has the option to kick a penalty kick or run the ball.
In Rugby Sevens, following a score the team that scores gets to kick off, which is an advantage because they can kick it in such a way that it is possible to get the ball back. In fifteens, the kick offs are reversed, with the team that scored receiving the kick offs. Teams practice kick offs often, as ball control is an extremely important part of the game, especially in a short, fourteen minute game.
In Sevens, there is less contact and more open play. The games are non-stop action with the players constantly running. Endurance, speed and passing skills are essential. The players prepare with more aerobic training than rugby fifteens players. Sevens players typically have a higher heart rate for a longer period than they do during a fifteens game.
Get ready. If you are a sports fan, you are going to enjoy this exciting sport. It has all of the attributes we love in sports; scoring, hitting, passing and plenty of non-stop action. It is a rapidly growing sport and Rugby Sevens will be an Olympic sport in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. You will be seeing more rugby on television in the future. If you would like more information on this awesome sport, visit http://www.usarugby.org