All the English rugby terms you need to know

Rugby was invented over 200 years ago in a town called Rugby. Today, rugby is one of England's biggest export sports.

All the English rugby terms you need to know
Language, Great Britain, Culture, Sports, codes,

Rugby was invented over 200 years ago in a town called Rugby. Today, rugby is one of England's biggest export sports. But the game with an oval ball that can only be thrown sideways and backwards can be quite difficult to understand at first.

From jargon to slang, here's a list of English rugby terms you need to know:

Union or League?

There are primarily two different versions of rugby; union and league. The most obvious difference is that a rugby union team has 15 players and a rugby league team has 13 players.


Informal slang word for rugby. œLet's have a game of rugger!


To win a game of rugby, a team must score more points than their opponents. Goals are scored when the ball is kicked over the bar and through the opposing team's goal articals. If it happens in the middle of the match or from a penalty kick, a goal is worth three points.


To get more points, players can try to get the ball into the other team's goal area (behind the goal articals) and touch the ball into the ground. In rugby union games five points are awarded and in rugby league games four points are awarded.


After scoring an attempt, teams have a chance to score even more points. A player may attempt to kick the ball through the goal articals. If it succeeds, you get two more points.

Hoof it

When you kick the ball hard “ and far. œHe hoofed it and the ball flew for miles!

Drop kick

When a player drops the ball to the ground and then kicks when it bounces back.

Drop goal

When a drop kick is used to score. This type of goal is worth three points in rugby union but only one point in rugby league.


Flying kick (field goal)

When a player kicks a ball lying on the ground through the goal articals.


In rugby, you get to pull a player carrying the ball to the ground by grabbing the person's hips or legs with your arms. Tackles are used to try to get the ball back or to stop the player if they are moving towards your goal line.

Ankle tap

A type of tackle that basically involves tackling someone by grabbing their feet or ankles.


Quick, fancy footwork designed to avoid being tackled.

Blood replacement

If an injured player is bleeding, the player may be replaced by a teammate for up to 15 minutes while they receive first aid.

Cauliflower ear

If we speak about injuries, cauliflower ear is very common in rugby. The cartilage and skin in the ears can be damaged by repeated impact, and the ears become thick and lumpy.


For those new to rugby, a "scrum" looks crazy. Players on both teams line up in three rows facing each other, lower their heads and use their shoulders to push against the opposing team to get the ball, which is on the ground below them.


Rucking only happens in rugby league. If a player is tackled, lies on the ground and drops the ball, no one else is allowed to touch it. But players from both teams can crawl over the ball on the floor to form a "ruck". They compete for the ball by trying to push the other team back and away from the ball. When the ball is exposed, other players can pick it up and continue playing.


Mauls are another way to recover a ball from a player who has been tackled. A maul is a bit like a ruck, but the ball is not on the ground. The maul ends if the ball is dropped to the ground, or if one player breaks away from the others and has the ball with them.


An everyday term. You may hear, or say; œHe's been absolutely mauled! if someone has been seriously injured.

Six Nations

The Six Nations Championship is a men's rugby competition between England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales.

On the trot

In succession, or in a row. œSurely England will do well in the Six Nations; they have won eight games on the trot.