The GIST's Guide to Rugby

Wanna ruck?

GIF - New Zealand All Blacks Rugby Team Doing The Haka


Rugby is most commonly played on a pitch (aka a field) with a total of 30 players (15 players representing each team). It can, however, also be played with 14 players on the field, with seven players on each team. There are also other variations of rugby, including rugby football and Aussie rules, which are most commonly played in Australia. The scoring system in a rugby match is similar to good ol’ American football. Scoring a try is worth five points and occurs after a player touches the ball down in the end-zone of the pitch. After every try is scored, the scoring team has the opportunity to kick a conversion for two extra points. Games are divided into two 40-minute halves, and time expires when the ball is “dead,” after the 80-minute mark.

How is Rugby Organized?

Rugby is still up-and-coming to Canada so we don’t have an ~official~ rugby league. There are, however, local club rugby teams all across Canada, and many high schools and universities have rugby clubs. Aside from our national teams, the most notable team in Canada is the Toronto Wolfpack, who play out of the #6ix, and are the world's first transatlantic rugby team. WTF does transatlantic mean?! Well, the team is based in Toronto, but play in the British Rugby Football League in England. Yep, this means lots of flying, jet lag, Spice Girls, tea and scones. The British Rugby Football League is made up of a four-tiered system. The Wolfpack currently play in the Championship League, which is the second tier and unfortunately just missed being promoted to the Super League (highest tier) for next season. Damn, Daniel.

The Best of the Best

Hockey is Canada, and Canada is hockey right? Well, the same goes for rugby in England, Scotland, Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. Now, if we had to narrow it down to the two best teams in the world, it would be the New Zealand All Blacks and the South African Springbok. The All Blacks have won the most Webb Ellis Cups (the trophy you win for capturing the Rugby World Cup Title) with a total of three titles, while the Springbok have won two World Cups.

All Blacks stud (in looks and in play) Dan Carter retired from international play in 2015 but remains the highest point-scorer in test match rugby (a fancy way to say an international match between two senior national teams). Carter still plays club rugby, for the Kobelco Steelers in Japan, and plays the position of center or fly-half.  Owen Farrell is an English rugby player, who plays for the English national team, as well as the Saracens in London, England. He is one of the best (looking) converters in rugby, with a total of 102 successful conversions in international play.  

Didn’t Your Mama Tell You Not to RUCK With a Girl?

Let’s just say on the men’s side, rugby isn’t really Canada’s thing. So thank goodness our Canadian women kick some serious a$$ (typical). At the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, the Canadian women's sevens team captured the bronze medal with a dominant win over Great Britain. These women also won the gold at the 2015 PanAm Games in Toronto, which really helped grow the sport of rugby in Canada. Brittany Ben, Ghislaine Landry, and Bianca Farella are a few of Canada’s best players on the pitch. Landry is the current captain of the sevens program, who are going to be strong contenders for gold in the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. These women live and breathe rugby, and also love empowering women, and encouraging young girls to get into the sport of rugby. PREACH, BABY, PREACH! Now that you’ve learned some of the logistics of rugby, maybe it’s time for YOU to throw on some cleats and show the boys who’s boss.

And You Know We Got Some Trivia…

  • You cannot “forward pass” the ball in rugby -  it must be thrown behind you.

  • The Rugby World Cup (RWC) is hosted every four years. The next men’s RWC will be hosted in Japan in 2019 and the women’s in 2021. The seventh women’s World Cup was hosted in Dublin, Ireland, last year with record-setting attendance. New Zealand took the win.

  • You don’t get to pick your jersey number in rugby because jersey numbers are assigned to specific positions. Example: 9 = scrum-half, 15 = fullback. Well, that’s no fun!

  • Rugby was invented when William Webb Ellis was playing soccer and caught the ball, and ran to the goal while carrying it. Rules are made to broken we guess?

    That’s #thegist of it!

Written by Guest Writer & Rugby Guru: Victoria Spanton

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