Here’s how to pretend you know about rugby in Cardiff

Because every self-respecting student in Wales needs to know the difference between a try and a tackle

Rugby is the national sport of Wales, and for good reason. The game of rugby has a little something for everyone; it’s fast paced, physical, and shows off some very impressive skills. However, just like most sports, the ‘laws’ of rugby can be far from simple.

You’re not alone if you find the rules tricky to keep up with at times, so we have put together this cheat sheet so that you can be one step closer to becoming the ultimate rugby expert (and also so your Welsh friends can stop giving you a hard time.)

What you need to know about game day

If Wales are playing in the Principality Stadium, don’t be surprised to find that the city centre is absolutely rammed with fans.

The stadium is considered to be one of the best in the world, so it is understandably one of Cardiff’s biggest attractions. Rugby fans are passionate (and pretty loud), which leads to a lively atmosphere not just in the stadium, but throughout the city.

If you want to sample some of the classic rugby experience, maybe try a pint of Guinness; some people think the drink tastes like a mixture between coffee and gravy, but don’t let that stop you giving it a go. Also, if you see people wandering round with daffodils on their heads and dragons on their faces, it’s part of the experience so don’t say we didn’t warn you.


The Rules

Each team has 15 players: eight ‘forwards’ (the bigger, stronger ones) and seven ‘backs’ (the faster, prettier ones).

The main way of scoring is called a ‘try’. A try is where you get the ball over the opponent’s line on the other side of the pitch and put it down with your hands. A try is worth five points, and is followed by an attempt to kick it worth two. The ball needs to get in between the two tall posts and over the smaller one for it to count.

The only other point scoring method really worth worrying about is called a penalty kick. A penalty kick can be taken from anywhere on the field and the aim is to kick it at the posts. This usually happens when the other team has done something wrong, and if the kick is successful then they are awarded three points.

If you’ve never watched rugby before, then the tackles and scrums might initially alarm you. Tackles can look quite rough, but they aren’t usually fouls unless the fans of the team you’re supporting start booing, then it definitely was, and the professional referee was completely wrong. The scrums…well, you’ll know one when you see one. Basically, they’re all just trying to get the ball.

Lineouts are rugby’s version of a throw-in in football, they are used when the ball goes out of the pitch. Rugby takes a unique approach, choosing to have the ball thrown five metres in the air at players being lifted. These players aren’t easy to pick up either, with them often weighing as much as 110-120 kilograms in the men’s or 80-90 kilograms in the women’s game.

The ball shouldn’t ever go forward unless a player kicks it. The main offenders in this category are a pass that goes forward, or a ‘knock on’ where the ball comes out the players hands forward. Whilst it might seem the game is often stopping, rugby is a sport that’s constantly flowing, unless the referee blows their whistle, or the ball goes out of the pitch.

One of the many great things about rugby is that it generally has a very friendly atmosphere, especially compared to that other sport with a slightly rounder ball. The main bit of advice we can give would be to just embrace and enjoy it, as it’s a big part of Welsh culture. Even without a full understanding of the game’s rules, it is usually one of the best days (or nights) out Cardiff has to offer.

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