Rugby 101 | A quick guide to understanding the rules of rugby sevens

The game is played by 7 players on each side.

Games take place between two teams for a total of 7 minutes each way, with a 1 minute half time break.

The scoring system: 5 points for a try, 2 for a conversion and 3 for both penalties and drop goals

The difference is that all conversions must be taken within 40 seconds of the try being scored and must be taken as a drop goal rather than a place kick

The scoring team kicks off to the opposition

A player receiving a yellow card is sent to the sin bin for a 2 minute interval (counted as time in play, not real time) rather than 10 minutes

A penalty will result in a scrum. Scrummaging takes place between 3 forwards. These forward bind together and interlock their heads. The scrum half feeds the ball into the channel between them and retrieves the ball from the back of the scrum.

If the ball goes out of bounds a lineout occurs. Lineouts take place between two (sometimes 3) players, with a player throwing the ball back in to play.

Each team is only allowed 5 reserves per game, and can only make 3 changes during the course of the game

These rule changes are brought in to keep the game fast moving and free flowing, which is considered the aim of sevens rugby.


Ramblings of a rugby mom.

Have you ever noticed how a rugby mom is seen as just another person next to the field? Somebody who is there to be the taxi driver for the kids to rugby and back. Somebody who actually has no opinion……. yeah right!

Rugby has always been seen as a man’s sport. Something the boys can bond over and discuss….. a sport where the male spectators know more than the ref, the coach and sometimes even the players.


Let’s take school rugby trials as an example. The moms are expected to sit quietly and just watch the trials while silently saying  prayers that their sons will make the A team and then adding an extra prayer that their precious little angels will not get hurt during the season.

Now the dads on the other hand are running up and down the field….. screaming instructions. Some will actually go as far as telling the coaches who to take off the field so their own kids can be put on the field…… even if it is not a position their kids normally plays!!!! Why do dads have the right to interfere? Let me explain…… they have something we don’t…… testosterone. Yip….. they are male.



Then comes those dreaded injuries during matches. Ever noticed how it is ok for the dads to run onto the field? Have you as a mom tried it? The fastest recovery time a player has ever displayed was when his mother ran onto the field. It is not acceptable to be seen as a mommy’s boy. They would rather suffer in pain than let their mothers come near them!

So where do we as mothers fit in? Do we keep quiet and act dumb about rugby? Do we just stay behind the scenes and make sure our angels are wearing the gum guards and shoulder pads? Are we just the ones that wash those stinky jerseys after the matches….. getting the grass and mud stains out of their shorts?

If you have the answer on how to penetrate this male dominated area, please let me know. Let’s unite as rugby moms………






Training tips

Hi Coach,

The first weekend of the Six Nations proved how hard it is to break down defences. Usually the defenders start narrow and then spread across. This means that they are squeezed together from the side of the ruck and then, as the ball gets passed wider and wider, they shift out.

One way to trouble this sort of defence is to employ the cross kick which rapidly sends the ball wide to where there may be only one or two defenders.

Top tip

Make sure there’s a low trajectory from the kick, so the defenders have less chance to get under the ball. Today I have a drill for you that works on precision when kicking, so that when it comes to game time, your players can aim closer to the touchline.

Yours in rugby,
Dan Cottrell,
Head Coach, Better Rugby Coaching

Precision kicks closer to the touchline

By Dan Cottrell

Dealing with a kick that stops 5m from the goal and touchline is a nightmare for the covering back three players, especially when there is a good follow-up from the kicking team.

Being able to consistently kick the ball into this area demands a high degree of skill and precision.

Set up

A 25m x 30m box, several balls, cones.

What you get your players to do…

Use only your backs for this specialist exercise. Split the group into pairs: A kicker and a retriever, with one ball.

The objective is to kick the ball and get it to stop in the 5m square in the corners.


The initial activity works on the players coming to terms with what type of kick to use and getting a feel for it.
The kicker aims for the corner coned-off target area. The retriever gathers the ball and then kicks to the target area at the other end. K=kicker, R=retriever

Kickers are fed the ball and immediately kick it as they would in a game. The retriever waits outside the target area and recovers the ball. He then kicks for the 5m target zone at the other end with the previous kicker now the retriever. Players can kick the ball any way they want.


Different forms of kick: Spiral, ball rotating backwards or ball rotating forward.

A consistency to their accuracy and more importantly the weight of kick.

The ball is caught and kicked immediately to bring a little pressure to the practice.

Players regain the ball quickly and repeat the exercise.


Increase the size of the practice area to 30m x 40m.

Set up three attackers and make two passes to the outside player (following a pass from a feeder) who kicks for the corner area.


Develop the activity where passes are made to the wide player who kicks to the corner.

Develop this into a match-like 6v6 activity where any player can kick for the corner.


A 6v6 match-like scenario. The attacking team uses a kick to the corner once in every three attacks.


The first receiver can be the main kicker who aims for the corners, however, it can work much better if it’s a later kick from one of the centres, because the defensive winger will have started to move forward.

How to stop crowding at the ruck

A common issue for rugby coaches is dealing with crowding at the ruck. Use this game to get your players spreading out!

Set up

Run the game with three “positions”:

Wingers – self explanatory.
Nutters – basically think of them as flankers. Their job is to get the ball and, at first, you can set it so only the nutters are allowed into the rucks.
Tacklers or Killers – everyone else.

How to play

Only wingers can score and, only in the corners (that is, the ball has to go wide).

Only nutters can contest a ruck (be careful though, you need to keep it so the nearest player is happy to quickly pick up a ball and pass it – different from “contesting”).

The most important position is killers. They basically play zone defence across the pitch (which is where training in channels can help).

They are responsible for killing (tackling) anyone who comes into their zone and then getting back into the zone defence.

It may take a while for them to get it, but once they start to understand what nutters do you can also use it as a reward – that is, if you do your job as a killer well you can play as a nutter for a while.

So, play where only wingers can score on the wing, limit rucking to nutters only, and switch the positions regularly and after about three months you’ll start to get there!

If you have a game this Sunday, try going with the three positions and saying only nutters can ruck. If you make it a real “honour” to be the nutters, the kids will self-regulate and the nutters will ensure the killers and wingers stick to their jobs.

Scorpion stretch for flexibility

From Training Young Athletes

Each stretch to be performed for 30 seconds each side every day (after a warm-up).

Tell players to stretch the muscles and joint(s) to the point at which mild discomfort sets in (but not beyond). Breathe in and then out slowly as they relax into the stretch.

The scorpion

Tell your players to…

Lie on their front with both arms outstretched to their sides, hands level with shoulders, legs straight.
Tilt their head to the right, to look at their right hand then move right foot over their bum so that it touches their left hand.
Point their knee up to the ceiling.
Repeat on the other side. (NB: If they can’t reach their opposite hand, just go as far as they can, but look to progress.)

Standing back-peel

Tell your players to…

Stand with their back against a wall, feet shoulder-width apart and about 20cm away from the base of the wall.
Place their chin on their chest, hands on thighs, and slowly bend forward from top the of their spine.
Imagine that each vertebra is leaving the wall one by one. Try to keep the small of their back on the wall for as long as possible.
Stop when they feel mild discomfort in the hamstrings or lower back. Hold that position.
Return by trying to put the vertebrae back on the wall one by one in reverse.


Judgement vs. impact at the ruck

Winning rucks is not just about good technique, the key is to also know where to enter the ruck and what action is required. The arriving player has to scan the situation, weigh up the options and then take the right action.

The session

What you tell your players this session is about…

Learning to make quick decisions at the ruck.
Improving body positions and angles when arriving at the ruck.

What you tell your players to do…

Look at the situation and decide whether you are going to drive through, protect or stay out.
If you are going to enter the ruck, go through the “gate”, not in at the side, to make a real difference.

What you get your players to do…

In the middle of a 7m square, set out four cones in the shape of a rectangle – three strides wide, by two deep. The cones represent the tackle “gate” and players cannot enter from the sides of this box.

Place a ball in the middle of the cone box. Split the players into teams of four and two and put them outside the square.

When you shout “GO”, both teams enter the square and try to win the ball. The team with four players has to work out how many players they want to commit to the ruck.



Developing the session

The training session can be developed as follows…

Add players to both teams.
Put two players from each team in the square and an equal numbers of attackers and defenders outside the square (and perhaps make the square bigger).
Develop second phase attacks.

A game situation

The session can be developed further by playing a 10 v 10 game (depending on how many players you have) on half a pitch. Use passive five man scrums, allow kicking, and if the ball goes into touch have a contested two man lineout. For penalty offences, have a free kick with the opposition standing 5m back.

Otherwise, normal rugby laws apply except you judge whether players are making a difference at the ruck. Blow the whistle and question players if necessary. Have any spare players shout judgements from the sidelines. Change the teams to involve all players.



By Dan Cottrell

2016 Super Rugby season

The 2016 Super Rugby season will be the 21st season of Super Rugby and the first season featuring an expanded 18-team format. It will also be the first season that teams outside Australia, New Zealand and South Africa will feature, with a team from Argentina and another team from Japan. The round-robin games will take place every weekend from 26 February to 16 July 2016 (with a break for international matches during June), followed by the finals series at the end of July and culminating in the final on 6 August.


Competition format

The 18 teams will be grouped geographically. There are two regional groups, each consisting of two conferences: the Australasian Group, with five teams in the Australian Conference and five teams in the New Zealand Conference and the South African Group, with six South African teams, one Argentinean team and one Japanese team split into a four-team Africa 1 Conference a four-team Africa 2 Conference.

In the group stages, there will be 17 rounds of matches, where each team will play 15 matches and have two rounds of byes for a total of 135 matches.

Teams will play six intra-conference matches; in the four-team African Conferences, each team will play the other three teams in their conference home and away, while in the five-team Australasian Conferences, each team will play two teams home and away and will play once against the other two teams (one at home and one away). The other nine matches will be a single round of matches against each team in the other conference in their group, as well as against each team from one of the conferences in the other group. For 2016, the teams in Africa 1 will play the teams in the Australian Conference, while the teams in Africa 2 will play the teams in the New Zealand Conference.

The top team in each of the four conferences will automatically qualify to the Quarter Finals. The next top three teams in the Australasian Group and the next top team in the South African group will also qualify to the Quarter Finals as wildcards. The conference winners will be seeded #1 to #4 for the Quarter Finals, in order of log points gained during the group stages, while the wildcards will be seeded as #5 to #8 in order of log points gained during the group stages.

In the Quarter Finals, the conference winners will host the first round of the finals, with the highest-seeded conference winner hosting the fourth-seeded wildcard entry, the second-seeded conference winner hosting the third-seeded wildcard entry, the third-seeded conference winner hosting the second-seeded wildcard entry and the fourth-seeded conference winner hosting the top-seed wildcard entry.

The Quarter Final winners will progress to the Semi-Finals, where the highest seed to reach the Semi-Finals will host the lowest seed and the second-seeded semi-finalist will host the third-seeded team.

The winners of the Semi-Finals will progress to the Final, at the venue of the highest-seeded team.


*Times,dates and venues subject to change.

Day & Date Match Home Venue
Friday 26 February Blues v Highlanders Eden Park, Auckland
Friday 26 February Brumbies v Hurricanes GIO Stadium, Canberra
Friday 26 February Cheetahs v Argentina Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Saturday 27 February Japan v Lions Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo
Saturday 27 February Crusaders v Chiefs AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Saturday 27 February Waratahs v Reds Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Saturday 27 February Force v Rebels nib Stadium, Perth
Saturday 27 February Kings v Sharks Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Saturday 27 February Stormers v Bulls DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Friday 4 March Crusaders v Blues AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Friday 4 March Brumbies v Waratahs GIO Stadium, Canberra
Saturday 5 March Chiefs v Lions TBC
Saturday 5 March Highlanders v Hurricanes TBC
Saturday 5 March Reds v Force Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Saturday 5 March Bulls v Rebels Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Saturday 5 March Cheetahs v Stormers Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Saturday 5 March Sharks v Argentina Growthpoint KINGS PARK, Durban
Friday 11 March Blues v Hurricanes Eden Park, Auckland
Friday 11 March Force v Brumbies nib Stadium, Perth
Saturday 12 March Highlanders v Lions TBC
Saturday 12 March Rebels v Reds AAMI Park, Melbourne
Saturday 12 March Japan v Cheetahs Singapore National Stadium, Singapore
Saturday 12 March Kings v Chiefs Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Saturday 12 March Stormers v Sharks DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Friday 18 March Hurricanes v Force TBC
Friday 18 March Waratahs v Highlanders Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Friday 18 March Bulls v Sharks Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Saturday 19 March Japan v Rebels Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo
Saturday 19 March Crusaders v Kings AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Saturday 19 March Reds v Blues Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Saturday 19 March Lions v Cheetahs Emirates Airlines Park, Johannesburg
Saturday 19 March Stormers v Brumbies DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Saturday 19 March Argentina v Chiefs TBC
ROUND 5 (Easter)
Friday 25 March Hurricanes v Kings TBC
Saturday 26 March Chiefs v Force TBC
Saturday 26 March Rebels v Highlanders AAMI Park, Melbourne
Saturday 26 March Japan v Bulls Singapore National Stadium, Singapore
Saturday 26 March Cheetahs v Brumbies Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Saturday 26 March Sharks v Crusaders Growthpoint KINGS PARK, Durban
Saturday 26 March Argentina v Stormers TBC
Sunday 27 March Reds v Waratahs Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
ROUND 6 (Daylight savings ends Australia and New Zealand)
Friday 1 April Highlanders v Force TBC
Friday 1 April Lions v Crusaders Emirates Airlines Park, Johannesburg
Saturday 2 April Blues v Argentina QBE Stadium, North Harbour
Saturday 2 April Brumbies v Chiefs GIO Stadium, Canberra
Saturday 2 April Kings v Japan Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Saturday 2 April Bulls v Cheetahs Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Sunday 3 April Waratahs v Rebels Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Friday 8 April Chiefs v Blues TBC
Friday 8 April Force v Crusaders nib Stadium, Perth
Friday 8 April Stormers v Japan DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Saturday 9 April Hurricanes v Argentina TBC
Saturday 9 April Reds v Highlanders Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Saturday 9 April Sharks v Lions Growthpoint KINGS PARK, Durban
Saturday 9 April Kings v Bulls Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Friday 15 April Crusaders v Argentina AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Friday 15 April Rebels v Hurricanes AAMI Park, Melbourne
Friday 15 April Cheetahs v Japan Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Saturday 16 April Blues v Sharks Eden Park, Auckland
Saturday 16 April Waratahs v Brumbies Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Saturday 16 April Bulls v Reds Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Saturday 16 April Lions v Stormers Emirates Airlines Park, Johannesburg
ROUND 9 (Anzac Day Weekend)
Friday 22 April Highlanders v Sharks TBC
Friday 22 April Rebels v Cheetahs AAMI Park, Melbourne
Saturday 23 April Japan v Argentina Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo
Saturday 23 April Hurricanes v Chiefs TBC
Saturday 23 April Force v Waratahs nib Stadium, Perth
Saturday 23 April Stormers v Reds DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Saturday 23 April Kings v Lions Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Sunday 24 April Brumbies v Crusaders GIO Stadium, Canberra
Friday 29 April Chiefs v Sharks TBC
Friday 29 April Force v Bulls nib Stadium, Perth
Saturday 30 April Highlanders v Brumbies TBC
Saturday 30 April Blues v Rebels Eden Park, Auckland
Saturday 30 April Reds v Cheetahs Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Saturday 30 April Lions v Hurricanes Emirates Airlines Park, Johannesburg
Saturday 30 April Stormers v Waratahs DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Saturday 30 April Argentina v Kings TBC
Friday 6 May Crusaders v Reds AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Friday 6 May Brumbies v Bulls GIO Stadium, Canberra
Saturday 7 May Japan v Force Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo
Saturday 7 May Chiefs v Highlanders TBC
Saturday 7 May Waratahs v Cheetahs Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Saturday 7 May Sharks v Hurricanes Growthpoint KINGS PARK, Durban
Saturday 7 May Kings v Blues Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Friday 13 May Highlanders v Crusaders TBC
Friday 13 May Rebels v Brumbies AAMI Park, Melbourne
Saturday 14 May Hurricanes v Reds TBC
Saturday 14 May Waratahs v Bulls Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Saturday 14 May Japan v Stormers Singapore National Stadium, Singapore
Saturday 14 May Cheetahs v Kings Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Saturday 14 May Lions v Blues Emirates Airlines Park, Johannesburg
Saturday 14 May Argentina v Sharks TBC
Friday 20 May Crusaders v Waratahs AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Saturday 21 May Reds v Japan Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Saturday 21 May Chiefs v Rebels TBC
Saturday 21 May Force v Blues nib Stadium, Perth
Saturday 21 May Lions v Argentina Emirates Airlines Park, Johannesburg
Saturday 21 May Sharks v Kings Growthpoint KINGS PARK, Durban
Saturday 21 May Bulls v Stormers Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Friday 27 May Hurricanes v Highlanders TBC
Friday 27 May Waratahs v Chiefs Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Friday 27 May Kings v Argentina Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Saturday 28 May Blues v Crusaders Eden Park, Auckland
Saturday 28 May Brumbies v Japan GIO Stadium, Canberra
Saturday 28 May Stormers v Cheetahs DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Saturday 28 May Bulls v Lions Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Sunday 29 May Rebels v Force AAMI Park, Melbourne
Friday 1 July Chiefs v Crusaders TBC
Friday 1 July Brumbies v Reds GIO Stadium, Canberra
Saturday 2 July Japan v Waratahs Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo
Saturday 2 July Hurricanes v Blues TBC
Saturday 2 July Rebels v Stormers AAMI Park, Melbourne
Saturday 2 July Cheetahs v Force Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Saturday 2 July Kings v Highlanders Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Saturday 2 July Lions v Sharks Emirates Airlines Park, Johannesburg
Saturday 2 July Argentina v Bulls TBC
Friday 8 July Blues v Brumbies Eden Park, Auckland
Friday 8 July Reds v Chiefs Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Friday 8 July Lions v Kings Emirates Airlines Park, Johannesburg
Saturday 9 July Crusaders v Rebels AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Saturday 9 July Waratahs v Hurricanes Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Saturday 9 July Force v Stormers nib Stadium, Perth
Saturday 9 July Bulls v Japan Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Saturday 9 July Sharks v Cheetahs Growthpoint KINGS PARK, Durban
Saturday 9 July Argentina v Highlanders TBC
Friday 15 July Blues v Waratahs Eden Park, Auckland
Friday 15 July Reds v Rebels Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Friday 15 July Sharks v Japan Growthpoint KINGS PARK, Durban
Saturday 16 July Crusaders v Hurricanes AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Saturday 16 July Highlanders v Chiefs TBC
Saturday 16 July Brumbies v Force GIO Stadium, Canberra
Saturday 16 July Stormers v Kings DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Saturday 16 July Cheetahs v Bulls Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Saturday 16 July Argentina v Lions TBC
Super Rugby Qualifiers
Friday 22 July
Friday 22 July
Saturday 23 July
Saturday 23 July
Super Rugby Semi Finals
Friday 29 July
Saturday 30 July
Super Rugby Final
Saturday 6 August