It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand the rules – we’ll have you talking the lingo like a pro in no time.
What is the Rugby World Cup?
Just like football, rugby has a World Cup every four years to decide which country is the best.
You probably know that there are two types of rugby – league and union. The World Cup features the rugby union game, as do the Six Nations, which is another major tournament. To keep things simple, we’re not going to talk about rugby league here at all.
World Cup 2015
This year England will host the 20 global teams who compete to lift the World Cup trophy. All the teams will play each other within pools A-D – which are like groups in football. At the end of the pool stage the top two teams from each pool move on to the quarter finals and play each other for the chance to get through to the semi-final and final.
Teams to watch out for are:
Rugby is New Zealand’s national game and the All Blacks, as they are officially nicknamed, have a fearsome reputation. They’ve won the World Cup twice before, have won the World Rugby Team of the Year award seven times and have achieved a Grand Slam (defeating England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales in one tour) on four occasions. They’re famous for performing the Haka before every match – a traditional Maori warrior dance which is intended to intimidate their opponents.
At number 2 in the World Cup Rankings for 2015, the Wallabies are a side not to be underestimated. With two previous World Cup wins to their name, Australia recently beat their closest rivals New Zealand, so will be eager for another taste of victory.
Even if you’re a complete rugby novice you’ll have heard of Jonny Wilkinson, Martin Johnson and Lawrence Dallaglio, arguably some of the greatest rugby players England has had. They are all retired now, but the new players in the English team are a hugely talented group that stand a real chance of winning the cup.
Wales have lost 3 key players due to injuries, so may struggle this year. However, you can guarantee they won’t go down without a fight. The grudge match against England is always tense and explosive, so don’t miss it on Saturday 26th September.
Rugby: The Rules
Like most sporting contests, the aim is to score more points than your opponent. As a contact sport, the other team can tackle the player carrying the ball in order to steal it from them, as long as it is done safely and within the rules.
There are several ways to score:
- Try – when a player touches the ball to the ground within the opponent’s goal area. This counts as 5 points
- Conversion – this is a kick over the goal posts straight after a try has been scored, which counts as 2 points
- Goal kick – these include penalty kicks and drop kicks, which can take place at any point in the match. These are worth 3 points each
The main rule of the game is that a player can only pass backwards: if the ball goes forward, be it from a pass or hitting a player, play is stopped. An individual is off-side if he is in front of a team mate who is carrying the ball or the last person to play the ball.
Free and penalty kicks, scrums and lineouts are all responses to a foul or infringement, with the aim of giving the opposition the advantage.
Each team consists of 15 players, plus seven substitutes.
Impress with these 5 Rugby World Cup Facts
- If New Zealand win the 2015 World Cup they will become the first nation with win the tournament three times and to retain the trophy
- The highest number of points to be scored in a single World Cup game is 145. South Africa beat Japan 145 – 17 in the 1995 World Cup
- There are a total of 600 players in the 2015 tournament
- A total of 48 matches will be played across 13 venues in 44 days
- England’s mascot is an English Bulldog called Ruckley
Where to Watch
If you’re planning to watch a game or two, there are several options – you can go to the stadium, visit a Fanzone, watch it at home on TV or go to a pub to take in the action.
At the Stadium
Arguably the best way to see rugby matches is to be there in the stands. The crowd, atmosphere and live action are truly hard to beat, but it does make for an expensive day out. The ticket, travel, food, drink and memorabilia can add up so this isn’t always a viable option for many. You might not have the greatest view and depending on the weather, it can become a quite cold or wet day out.
It’s recommended that tickets only be bought through the official Rugby World Cup website as individual matches or as travel packages, which include the match ticket, nearby hotel and travel. Tickets often sell out months in advance. There are some still available on reselling sites, although the prices can be much higher than the ticket value.
Thirteen match venues have been confirmed across the UK, including Twickenham, Wembley, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the Millennium Stadium and St James’ Park.
There are 15 official Rugby World Cup Fanzone locations across England and Cardiff, located in each of the host cities and also in Rugby, the birthplace of the sport. These free-to-enter zones give you the chance to enjoy the atmosphere and pre-match build up, even if you didn’t manage to get a ticket for a game. Each Fanzone will have a large screen that shows the live games, as well as numerous other forms of entertainment, food and drink.
At Home on TV
You may find that watching on the TV at home is your easiest option. Staying at home means you can invite friends round without the need for expensive tickets or travel, while food and drink are close to hand. It’s also probably the comfiest option and you’re guaranteed a great view. Modern TVs have lots of great features to make the experience even better – pause/replay means you can nip to the loo without missing the action or replay your favourite trys or penalties. Some TVs even have a Football mode, which enhances the colour and sound to give a better atmosphere. It works with Rugby too!
Down the Pub
Watching your favourite teams play at the pub can create a similar atmosphere to a stadium, but obviously on a smaller scale. You can drink with friends or debate the referee’s decisions with others. It can be quite busy and loud though, so if you prefer a bit of peace and quiet when watching rugby the pub may not be the best option for you. Although most pubs have large TV screens, your view may be obscured by other people or you could end up at a bad angle.
Wherever and however you decide to watch, be sure to enjoy it! And may the best team win.