Rugby


Rugby is 13-a-side field game which developed from Rugby Union, but is now radically different. It is played both by amateurs and professionals and is most popular in northern England and Australia.

Rules :

The goal posts on a standard pitch have a crossbar which is 3 m (10 ft) above ground. The ball is oval. Points are scored when a player places the ball on the ground in his opponents' in-goal area (a "try", worth 4 points); when the ball is kicked by a place-kick over the crossbar and between the uprights (a "goal"), which can be scored after a try, when it is said to be "converted" (2 points), and from a penalty kick (2 points); and when the ball is kicked through the goal posts and over the crossbar on the half volley in open play (a "drop goal", worth 1 point).
A team comprises six forwards and seven backs. A game begins with a place-kick from the middle of the centre line. It is restarted in the same way after points have been scored and at the beginning of the second half. Thereafter each side tries to gain as much possession of the ball as possible and, by passing manoeuvres, to score tries. As in rugby union football the ball must be passed backwards or laterally in order to get it forwards.

The most important feature which distinguishes rugby league from rugby union is the "play-the-ball" rule. After a player is tackled and brought to the ground while in possession of the ball, he is allowed to get to his feet and play the ball with his foot without interference. As a rule he backheels the ball to a team-mate standing behind him who, in all probability, will begin a passing movement. The team in possession is allowed five successive play-the-balls. If a team is tackled a sixth successive time, then possession of the ball is surrendered to the opponents.
A player cannot gain ground by kicking the ball forwards so that it enters touch without it first bouncing in the field of play, except from a penalty kick. Common infringements include a "forward pass", a "knock-on", "obstruction", and "offside". Fouls involving rough play are punished by a penalty.

This form of the game came into existence in 1895, after some rugby clubs paid their players for loss of wages and were suspended by the Rugby Football Union (RFU). The new form of rugby caught on rapidly in the north, and by 1897 there were 80 rugby league clubs. When the New Zealand rugby union side, the All Blacks, toured Britain in 1905 they watched the new game and introduced it in Australasia. In 1906 the number of players was reduced from 15 to 13 and the important modification of "play the ball" was brought into operation. In 1907 a team of New Zealanders and Australians toured England playing the new game. This venture established a tradition of regular tours to and from Australasia.

Despite the existence of rugby union and Australian rules football the game burgeoned in Australia from early in the 20th century. In New Zealand the game caught on quickly from 1908, though it was opposed by followers of rugby union-still the main code in New Zealand. Rugby league in France, called Jeu à Treize, arose when the RFU banned France from the international championship in 1931 on grounds of professionalism and allegations of rough play. Since World War II Australian teams have been very powerful and have had much success in Test matches against New Zealand, France, and England. Australia has also been the dominant force in the World Cup.

In 1995 rugby league in Britain underwent a radical upheaval when a completely new divisional structure was adopted, known as the Super League. The intention was to benefit from an estimated £87 million which was offered by Rupert Murdoch of News International in order to acquire the rights to show the games on satellite television. In order to carry this out, an √©lite group of clubs was created in order to raise the profile of the game. It was also decided to transform rugby league from a winter sport to a summer sport, and the first games of the new league began in March 1996.

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