Rugby Glossary – A Dictionary of Rugby Terms

Haka – a cultural ceremonial display with a chant performed by many Southern Pacific teams as a challenge before a match.

Half-back – the back wearing No.9 who normally feeds the ball into a scrum and retrieves the ball at the base of scrums, rucks, and mauls. Can also be called the Scrum-half.

High Ball – a ball kicked very high into the air placing any player attempting to catch it under extreme pressure by on rushing opposition players.

Home Nations – EnglandWalesScotland, and Ireland

Hospital Pass – a pass which is received by a team-mate a split second before he is tackled hard by one or more of the opposition, after which he is likely to need medical treatment. A useful way of settling scores with team-mates.

Injury Time – in top-class rugby, the referee publicly stops and starts time for more lengthy interruptions (injuries, referrals to the TV referee) so that even when the allotted 40 minutes have expired, play continues until the time for these stoppages is added. At club level, injury time is often a far less easily defined beast.

Jumper – a common name for a rugby jersey. Also the name of a player in a lineout, usually at the 2, 4, and 6 positions, jumping to catch or intercept the throw.

Knock On – losing, dropping, or knocking the ball forward from a player’s hand resulting in the ball being awarded to the other team in a scrum.

League – a version of rugby played normally with 13 players under different laws than Rugby Union. The two codes deviated over professionalism and until rugby union went professional in 1995 there was deep-rooted antagonism between the two codes.

Lifting – the act of lifting the lineout jumper into the air in order to more easily catch or intercept the throw.

Lineout – the set play re-starting play after the ball has been taken out or kicked to touch. Both sets of forwards will line up opposite each other with the side with throw calling a play. The throw must be directly down the middle of the two lines.

Loose Forwards – common names for the flankers and No. 8 in a forward pack.

Mark – the place indicated by the referee where the scrum should form; also a player inside his own 22 can, on catching a ball kicked by the opposition on the full, call for a “mark”. If the referee agrees, the player can then re-start play in much the same way as if he had been awarded a free-kick.

Maul – typically after a runner has come into contact and the ball is still being held by a player once any combination of at least three players have bound themselves a maul has been set. The primary difference from a ruck is that the ball is not on the ground.

No side – antiquated term used to describe the end of the match. Superseded by full time.

Offsides – during rucks, scrums, lineouts, and mauls an imaginary line is present over which any player crossing before the set piece is completed commits a penalty.

Out on the full – In general play, it is encouraged that the ball is not kicked away constantly when it is not needed. This is punished by the rule that says if you kick the ball directly into touch, without it bouncing in field first, the lineout will take place in line with the position you kicked the ball from. This is known as kicking the ball out on the full.

Pack – another name for all the forwards usually when they are bound for a scrum.

Penalty – any number of infractions or violations which award the other team a kick.

Penalty Kick – an uncontested kick awarded to a team for a major infraction by the other team. The kick can be taken directly at goal and scores three points is successful If the ball is kicked to touch, then the throw-in is awarded back to the team which kicked the ball out of bounds.

Penalty Try – the awarding of a try due to a blatant or repeated violation by an opposing side that prevents an obvious try from being scored.

Pill – a nickname for a rugby ball – widely used in the southern hemisphere.

Pitch – click here for details of the pitch and its markings

Place Kick – a kick of the ball resting on the ground, placed in an indention in the ground, from a small pile of sand, or from a kicking tee. Place kicks are used to start each half, for penalty kicks at goal, or for conversion kicks after a try has been awarded.

Pumas – the national team of Argentina

Pushover Try – a try scored by the forward pack as a unit in a scrum by pushing the opposition’s scrum pack backwards across the tryline while dragging the ball underneath them. Typically scored from a 5m scrum, the try is usually awarded when the No.8 or scrum-half touch the ball down after it crosses the try line.

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