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Oscar Bashaw 

Club President 

obashaw@usc.edu  

(650) 888-0449

Q1: How was rugby invented?    

In 1823, during a game of school football in the town of Rugby, England, a young man named William Webb Ellis picked up the ball and ran towards the opposition’s goal line. Two centuries later, rugby has evolved into one of the world’s most popular sports, with millions of people playing, watching and enjoying the game. Rugby culture is best defined by the values of discipline, control and mutual self-respect. 

Q2: What do you need to play rugby? 

At the bare minimum, players will need a sturdy pair of cleats that are appropriate for both natural ground and artificial turf. A mouth guard is also required to protect the teeth and jaw. In addition, some players choose to wear approved headgear (e.g. scrum caps) and/or padded equipment, worn under the shirt.

Q3: What are the dimensions of a rugby pitch? 

A rugby pitch is typically between 94 to 100 meters long and between 68 to 70 meters wide. The length is from try line to try line and does not include the dead ball area beyond the try line, which can be 10 to 22 meters deep.

Q4: What is the points system in rugby? 

You can score different numbers of points depending on what you do in the game.

Try (5 points): A try is scored when the ball is grounded over the opponents’ goal line in the in-goal area. A penalty try can be awarded if a player would have scored a try but for foul play by the opposition.

Conversion (2 points): After scoring a try, that team can attempt to add two further points by kicking the ball over the crossbar and between the posts from a place in line with where the try was scored.

Penalty (3 points): When awarded a penalty after an infringement by the opposition, a team may choose to kick at goal.

Drop Goal (3 points): A drop goal is scored when a player kicks for goal in open play by dropping the ball onto the ground and kicking it on the half-volley.

Q5: I am physically small for my age – can I still play? 

Rugby is a game for all shapes and sizes; this is one of the sport’s main strengths and attractive points. The sum of a team’s parts is always greater than any one individual. 

In rugby there are forwards, whose responsibility is generally to win the ball from the opposition and compete at most of the more contact-driven areas such as the scrum, the lineout, the ruck and the maul. Forwards tend to be heavier, more powerful players. It also helps for them to be taller in order to win the ball at the lineout and the restart.

There are also backs, who tend to be quicker so that they can take advantage of the space created by the forwards’ hard work. Backs are players who need to be better at passing, kicking, strategizing and simply running the ball. 

It should be noted that there are also non-contact forms of rugby such as touch and tag. 

Q6: Why can you only pass backwards in rugby? 

In rugby, you need to carry the ball forwards over the opponents’ goal line, forcing it to the ground to score. A player may pass to a teammate who is in a better position to continue the attack, but the pass must not travel towards the opposing team’s goal line. It must travel either directly across the field or back in the direction of the passer’s own goal line. 

By carrying the ball forwards and passing backwards, territory is gained. Passing backwards also allows attacking players to prepare for incoming contact, effectively reducing the risk of injury. If a forward pass is made, the referee will stop the game and award a scrum with the throw-in going to the team that was not in possession. The ball can be kicked forwards, but even then the kicker’s teammates must be behind the ball at the moment the ball is kicked.

These rules create a need for sound teamwork and great discipline; there is only so much that can be achieved by one individual player. Only by working as a unit can players move the ball forward towards their opponents’ goal line and eventually go on to win the game. 

Q7: What is the difference between a tackle, ruck and maul? 

It is important to distinguish between these terms, as they often happen in quick succession. 

Tackle: Only the ball-carrier can be tackled by an opposing player. A tackle occurs when the ball carrier is held by one or more opponents and is brought to ground, has one or both knees on the ground, is sitting on the ground or is on top of another player who is on the ground. To maintain the continuity of the game, the ball carrier must release the ball immediately after the tackle, the tackler must release the ball carrier and both players must roll away from the ball. This allows other players to come in and contest for the ball, thereby starting a new phase of play.

Ruck: A ruck is formed if the ball is on the ground and one or more players from each team who are on their feet close around it. Players must not handle the ball in the ruck, and must use their feet to move the ball or drive over it so that it emerges at the team’s hindmost foot, at which point it can be picked up.

Maul: A maul occurs when the ball carrier is held by one or more opponents and one or more of the ball carrier’s team mates binds as well (a maul therefore needs a minimum of three players). The ball must be off the ground. The team in possession of the ball can attempt to gain territory by driving their opponents back towards the opponents’ goal line. The ball can then be passed backwards between players in the maul and eventually passed to a player who is not in the maul. Alternatively, a player can leave the maul while carrying the ball and run with it.

Q8: How does offside work in rugby? 

Rugby’s offside law restricts where players can be on the field. This ensures there is space to attack and defend. In general, a player is in an offside position if said player is further forward (closer to the opponents’ goal line) than the teammate who is carrying the ball or the teammate who last played the ball. Being in an offside position is not an offence, but an offside player may not take part in the game until they are onside again. If an offside player takes part in the game, that player will be penalised.

Q9: How does USC Rugby ensure the safety and wellbeing of its players?

All games and practices are staffed with trained medical personnel who maintain students as their first priority. Registered players are also required to complete a baseline concussion test before participating in league matches. To further manage the risk of injury, USC Rugby has also employed sports chiropractor/physician Dr. Coree Levy (www.drcoreelevy.com). 

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