Rugby is an extremely popular international sport that’s played at a high level all over the world, and is becoming increasingly popular here in the United State. For those of you just starting out and interested in learning how to play rugby we have complied 10 tips that will get you out on the pitch in no time at all.
10 Tips for How to Play Rugby
Buy Yourself a Rugby Ball
One of the simplest tips when looking at rugby for beginners is to go out and buy a rugby ball. The best players in the world are able to use dummies and ball fakes to beat their opponents and make space for their teammates. The game also relies on the ability of the player to pass equally well with their dominant and non-dominant hands, so getting a ball and just passing for hours with a friend is a must when starting the game.
Learn by Playing
There are some games you learn by watching from the sidelines. When beginning rugby however it is important to get on the field as much as possible. Sure, the game will feel like it is being played at 100 miles per hour and you will be dog tired after 10 minutes of chasing the ball. Over time though everything will start to slow down and the patterns and techniques within the contest will become more and more obvious. Whether it be full games, scrimmages or touch, playing rugby is very important for newbies.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions
Sometimes learning a new game can be very intimidating. Rugby though is unique in the sports world in the brotherhood and camaraderie that it promotes. Plenty of this is probably down to the traditional beer flow after the games, but rugby players worldwide are a friendly bunch who always seem ready to help a new player learn the game. When it comes to beginning rugby the only dumb questions are the ones you don’t ask.
Have the Right Rugby Equipment
One of the great things about beginning rugby is that it is relatively inexpensive. In games like football, hockey and lacrosse you can pay hundreds of dollars for the right equipment and padding. In rugby however all you need is a pair of cleats and a $2 mouth guard. Unless you are going to be playing on very wet pitches a pair of firm ground (bladed) soccer cleats will do the job just fine and provide you with more than enough traction to sidestep your way to glory.
Don’t Think its Football
It is interesting that when people see rugby they assume that playing the game is very similar to playing football. In truth though, outside of the contact aspects the two sports are really not all that similar. Instead it is often former soccer and basketball players (field vision) and wrestlers (tackling technique) that make the transition to the sport the smoothest.
Learn Basic Rugby Rules
While learning how to play rugby, it can look complex and daunting at first the basic rules are really not that difficult to grasp. Passing backwards is obviously a given, while new players should also quickly learn about knock-ons, offside and illegal play in the rucks and mauls. With those basics grasped the game will become a lot clearer and, importantly, a lot more fun.
Watch as Many Games as you Can
While getting out and playing games is massively important, it is equally helpful to watch as much footage as possible from around the world. The internet has made this a lot easier with countless games being hosted on YouTube. In addition ESPN has picked up the rights to some of the greatest club competitions in the world so there is no longer an excuse to not watch the game you are learning. Watch critically and study how the players at your position move on and off the ball to be in the right place at the right time and have an impact on the game.
Find a Local Rugby Club
Rugby is one of the fastest growing sports in the USA and that will only continue to be the case now that it will be played in the Olympics. As a result there are clubs, both established and new, all over the country with a new professional league also in the picture. All these clubs though are looking for new blood and new players, so get onto USARugby.com and find where your local team practices. Getting affiliated with a rugby club is a key step for beginning rugby players.
Play a Rugby Video Game
Many a teenager believes they can be an NFL head coach thanks to the Madden franchise. The options when it comes to rugby video games are certainly more limited, but finding and playing one will certainly help with understanding how to play rugby and the nuances of the game. The tactile nature of video games actually makes them a pretty useful learning tool in certain situations and games in the past have also had a rugby for beginners section that is worth checking out too.
Don’t Assume you are the Wrong Size
There is no such thing as the wrong size in rugby. It truly is the most inclusive game in the world as it can be played effectively by any body type. There is an assumption that you have to be big, like former linebacker big, to play rugby, but some of the best wingers and scrum halves in the world are not even close to six feet tall. Good coaches will see talent in players and fit them into a position that best suits their size and athletic skill set.
That’s it for our basic overview of how to play rugby. This is a game I fell in love with over 20 years ago and one that I am still playing to this day. It is a great sport for action, fitness and friendship, so follow these tips and soon you will understand exactly why “Saturday’s a rugby day”.
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Steve is an annoying competitive individual who thus can’t get enough sports in his life. He loves to write about sports almost as much as he loves to play them and his proudest sporting accomplishment is winning a National Championship with the Wichita Barbarians Rugby Club in 2015.