Normally you wouldn’t associate Scuba Diving and Rugby together. However, I love scuba diving but I also love rugby union. With the Rugby World Cup 2015 kicking off tomorrow I thought I would post about the six laws you need to know to make the game a lot easier to follow for those those don’t normally follow the game.

The text has been taken from a post on the ITV website. A link to the full article can be found here.

Rugby World Cup: Six laws you need to know

For a novice the inner workings of a rugby union match might seem like a mystery. To the untrained eye, it can appear to be a chaotic mess of violence interrupted by strange huddles and the odd kick off the odd-shaped ball.

With the Rugby World Cup at our door, it’s time to brush up on your knowledge of the key laws that make the sport one of the most popular in the world.

The basics

The fundamental rule of rugby is that the ball must always be passed backward. Yes, it’s an obvious one, but that doesn’t stop forward passes from being a regular part of games, often with decisions on whether the ball did go forward decided by the finest of margins. The ball can only go forward when it’s retained in the hands of a player or when it’s kicked forward.

Start! Stop! Start again…

A game of rugby lasts just 80 minutes, ten minutes shorter than a football match, and is divided into two halves. The gruelling nature of the game today means that injuries are all too frequent and so the action is often of a stop-start nature.

What do points make?

There are two fundamental ways to score in rugby. The first, and generally most exciting way, is to score a try. This involves a player touching the ball down on the ground once they have crossed their opponent’s try line.

Secondly, there is the option to kick the ball between the posts. This usually occurs when the opponent is penalised or after a scoring team is given an opportunity to kick a conversion to add to the value of a try. There is also the option to take a drop goal, which is a drop-kick at goal from the hand whilst the game is in play.

A try will earn your team five points (it used to be four, until a law change in 1992 encouraged teams to think twice about kicking) and a successful conversion kick – taken in line with the place on the pitch where the try was scored – will add two points. Penalties and drop goals are worth three points apiece.

Tackling

Tackling is one of the most brutal and dangerous aspects of the game, increasingly so. It is therefore unsurprising that stringent rules are enforced to protect the health of players. Tackles must be made below the shoulders, arms should be used and, perhaps most importantly, if a player is lifted into the air then he must be returned to the ground safely. Spear tackles are most definitely not allowed these days.

Additionally, unlike in American football, where players are entitled to tackle anything with a pulse, in rugby union it’s only the ball carrier who is fair game.

For breaking these rules, players can expect anything from a penalty against their team to a personal card: yellow (spend ten minutes in the ‘sin bin’) or red (sent off).

Scrum down

For most of us, including many match officials, the scrum is an inpenetrable mystery.

Scrums are primarily used to restart play after a minor infringement has occurred. Eight forwards from each side will pack down where the infringement occurred and get into formation before the referee calls for them to bind and set.

The ball is fed – a crooked feed isn’t allowed but the law here is fairly lax – into the scrum by the scrum-half of the attacking team and the shoving match begins. Both sides will begin to push, and each hooker (the poor guy who is stuck between two props) will try to strike the ball backwards with his leg, in an effort to win possession and feed the ball to the back of the scrum, where it is picked up, usually by the scrum-half or No. 8. Teams with the put-in win most scrums, but occasionally the other team will take one ‘against the head’.

Often, due the enormous pressure involved, the scrum will collapse before the ball has emerged and it will have to be reset. If this happens repeatedly, the referee might choose to penalise the offending side, for reasons that many of us can’t begin to fathom.

Lineout

The lineout might resemble an elaborate jumping ritual but it is simply the primary way to restart the game if the ball should leave the field of play via the touchline, or if a ball carrier should come into contact with the touchline.

Depending on the last person to touch the ball before it goes into touch, possession will be assigned – to the other side. The forwards will form two lines, one metre apart, and wait for the hooker from the team in possession of the ball to throw the ball (straight, ideally) down the middle. The sides can then compete for the ball by lifting their team mates into the air.

Hopefully the player and ball are returned safely to earth, although it’s not uncommon for the jumper to suffer a dangerous fall from on high to the turf.

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