“Not just a guy’s thing.”
Women’s rugby is a sport identical to men’s rugby with the same rules, field, and types of games, positions and equipment. Physically demanding sport, where the players should be mentally prepared and understand how to play safely. History of women’s rugby differs due to various social pressures and the self-image of rugby union itself. First girl, who played rugby with her brothers for a school team in Northern Ireland was Emily Valentine in 1884. Since the 80’s the game’s popularity has grown among female athletes and according to World Rugby the women’s rugby is played in over 100 countries since 2010.
Each team starts the game with 15 players on the field with seven or eight substitutes. These 15 players on the field are divided into eight forwards and seven backs. Forwards play a big role in tackling and rucking opposing players. Players who play this position are generally bigger and stronger. They also take part in scrums and line-outs. On the other hand, smaller, faster and more agile than the forwards are the backs, who create the game by trying to score. The backs are expected to have superior kicking and ball – handling skills.
There is also Olympic rugby played on a full-sized rugby field but with less than a half of players on both sides – seven against seven. The large area of space to run around makes the game very fast and the impressive variations of the game demand a high level of running and fitness.
The field is no longer than 100 m and 70 m wide. White markings on it help the players and referees to orientate, however, they are not as important as yards in american football. The most important part of the field is the end zone. It is an additional space of 6 to 11 m long on both sides of the field, where the points add up.
Rugby goalposts are H-shaped, situated in the middle of goal lines at each end of the field. They are made of 2 poles which are 5,6 m apart, connected by a horizontal crossbar 3 m above the ground.
Points can be scored in many ways; a try, scored by grounding the ball in the goal area behind the field is worth 5 points and a conversion kick scores 2 points; a successful penalty kick or a drop goal each score 3 points.
15’ games are divided into 40-minute halves with a break in the middle. After the half-time break the teams change their sides. Stoppages for injury do not count as part of the playing time. This is why the elapsed time is usually longer than 80 minutes. The referee is responsible for keeping the time.
Olympic rugby half is seven minutes long, the whole 7’s game takes 14 minutes with one minute break in between.
the KICK OFF
Before the beginning of the game, the captains and the referee toss a coin to decide which team will kick off first. Game starts with a dropkick (the ball must make contact with the ground before kicked), with the players chasing the ball into the opponent’s area and the other side trying to advance the ball.
PASSING and KICKING
Throwing the ball ahead to another player or forward passing is not allowed. The ball can be passed backwards. The ball is moved forward in three ways – by kicking, by a player running with it or within a scrum or maul.
Only the player – ball keeper – may be tackled or rucked.
Any player may kick the ball forward in an attempt to gain territory.
A player may tackle an opposing ball keepers by bringing them to ground. Tacklers cannot tackle above the shoulder – the neck and head are out of bounds, and the tackler has to wrap their arms around the player being tackled to complete the tackle. It is illegal to push, or to trip players using feet or legs. Tacklers may not tackle an opponent who jumps to catch a ball until the player is back on the ground.
RUCKING and MAULING
Mauls happen after a player with the ball comes into contact with an opponent but the handler remains on his feet: mauls are set when any combination of at least three players is bound. A ruck is similar to the maul but in this case the ball has gone to the ground with at least three attacking players binding themselves in an attempt to secure it.
When the ball leaves the side of the field, a line-out is awarded to the team that was not the last to touch the ball. Forward players from each team line up a metre apart. The ball is thrown from the touchline down the centre of the lines or towards by a player from the team that did not play the ball in touch.
Both sides compete for the ball and players are lifted by their teammates. A lifted player cannot be tackled until he stands.
Scrum is a way of restarting the game safely and fairly after breaking the rules – passing forward for example. Scrum is formed by the eight forwards from both teams crouching down and binding together in three rows. Each team tries to push the opposing team backwards. The side that wins possession can e.g. keep the ball under their feet while driving their opposition back.
The most used equipment for a game is a ball, a rugby shirt, rugby shorts, socks, and rugby boots. The rugby ball is oval shape made up of four panels. Rugby boots have soles with studs to allow them to grim on the turf of the pitch. The studs may be either metal or plastic but must not have any sharp edges or ridges.
Protective equipment is strictly regulated. The most common item is a mouthguard, which is worn by almost all players but are not mandatory. Other protective items permitted include head gear, non-rigid shoulder pads and shin guards (worn underneath socks).
Tapes or bandages can be worn to support or protect injuries. Some players wear tape around their heads to protect the ears in scrums and rucks. Women may also wear chest pads.
It is known that women are not only more competitive and aggressive but also more emotional and exactly this connection makes this sport more and more popular.