NRL Games... Rules & Play

Young People's Guide

Phins Up

Rubgy League some basic information

It's Not Rugby Union

Yes, they are both called Rugby... but one is Rugby Union with 15 players... and our game is Rugby League, with 13 players.
There are other rule differences of course but we'll concentrate on LEAGUE.

The Field

100 Metres


The Field is a rectangle shape, with H-shaped goal posts at each end. The goal posts are on the Try Line.
The Field is 100-metres long (and 68m wide) and has white line markings to show the 50-metre (centre line), plus 40, 30, 20 and 10-metre lines. They measure how far it is to the Try Line.
When the ball is in touch it is "out of bounds". The touch lines are the side edges of the field. If the ball is in the in-goal area but not grounded for a Try, the other team can run it back into the main part of the field, and the game continues. If a ball passes over the "dead-ball-line" it goes dead and the must restart.
Touch Judges (extra referees along the sidelines) watch that players stay in the field and don't cross the touch lines.
Corner posts mark the edge of the field where the goal line and touch line meet. A lot of tries are scored at those corners so touch judges must be alert to be sure the ball was still on the field and hadn't crossed into touch.

The game & scoring

13 Players : 80 Minutes

Each team has 13 players on the field, and they have some spare players who sit on the bench on the sideline. These are 'interchange players' and they go onto the field when a player needs a rest or is injured.
The game runs for 80 minutes but the players take a break at half time (after 40 minutes of play), that's when they go into their dressing rooms, probably grab an energy drink, and listen to their coach who tells them what's good or what needs to be improved.


Points are scored in the following ways

Try = 4 points: A try is scored when a player crosses the line and puts the ball on the ground (grounding the ball ON the line is also a Try - see the image above).

Conversion = 2 points: After scoring a try the team has a chance to score extra points by kicking the ball over the Crossbar - between the upright posts.

Field Goal = 1 point: Any player can take a kick at the goal posts during play. If the ball passes between the posts and over the crossbar, that's a Field Goal.

Penalty Goal = 2 points: When a team breaks the rules the other team is awarded a Penalty and given the ball.
They can choose to either 'run with the ball' OR if they are close to their goal posts they can take a shot and try to kick a goal... that's called a Penalty Goal.

**Note ** To score that Try... the player must put "downward pressure" on the ball... it can't fall out of their hands and hit the ground.
With the Conversion... the kick for goal is not taken from the same place each time... it will vary depending on where the Try was scored.


Goal posts look like the letter 'H', they are over 5 metres wide and that crossbar is 3 metres above the ground.
There is a black mark in the centre of the crossbar so the kicker can line up their kick.
Goal kicking may look easy on TV but it is a real skill and some players specialize in perfecting their kicking game.
When a try is scored you will almost always see the same player called up to place the ball... and take the kick... (hoping for those extra 2 points).

How do we know?

How do we know it was a Try? The referee blows a whistle and points at the spot where the ball was grounded. If he's unsure, he makes a rectangle signal with his hands and that means he thinks it was a try, but wants the Video Referee in the control box to look at the video replay to be sure it really was a Try.
The video referee will watch replays from different angles, and in slow motion, so they can check if there were any mistakes.


How do we know?

How do we know the kick at goal was successful? If the kicker gets the ball between the posts, and over the Crossbar, the two Touch Judges standing behind the goal posts will raise their flags.
If the kicker misses... then the touch-judges will wave their flags down low, to show a 'miss'.


Activity Booklet

Free to Download

There is a FREE activity booklet to download for young people to test their knowledge.


This is a .PDF document, and no email address is required.
It does not contain any commercial or offensive material, and it is free to Download.
The activities are suitable for young people who can read and write, and are capable of searching for answers in the webpage above.
The author has never played Rugby League and this resource is not intended to cover every facet of game play.
It was was created to help youngsters learn about the major things that happen on the field at NRL games.
It is intended as a fun activity only.

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