NRL rules and details (Rugby League)


Local Insights

6/19/20235 min read

rugby football stadium
rugby football stadium

Discover the detailed rules of rugby league: gameplay, positions, scoring, fouls, and more. Gain a deeper understanding of this exciting sport.

Rugby League is a thrilling sport that has captivated audiences around the world. With its high-speed action and physicality, having a solid grasp of the rules is crucial for both players and fans. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the intricacies of rugby league rules, covering everything from the fundamental gameplay to player positions, fouls, penalties, and scoring systems. Let's explore the world of rugby league and gain a deeper understanding of its rules and regulations.

1. Introduction

Rugby league, originally from England in the 19th century, is a team sport played by two teams, each consisting of thirteen players. The objective of the game is to score more points than the opposing team by carrying, passing, or kicking the ball into the opponent's in-goal area. Rugby league showcases not only physical prowess but also strategic gameplay and teamwork.

2. Objectives of the Game

The primary objective in rugby league is to score tries, which are worth four points. A try is awarded when a player successfully grounds the ball in the opponent's in-goal area. Teams can also earn points through conversions, penalty goals, and field goals.

3. Basic Gameplay

Kickoff and Restart

The game commences with a kickoff, where one team kicks the ball to the other team. The receiving team then attempts to catch the ball and initiate an attacking play. After a try is scored, the team that scored restarts the game by drop-kicking the ball from the center of the field.

Tackling and Ball Handling

Tackling is a fundamental aspect of rugby league. When a player is tackled, the opposing team's players must release the tackled player and retreat a distance of ten meters. The tackled player can either play the ball by rolling it backward with their foot or pass it to a teammate. Maintaining possession of the ball is crucial for advancing towards the opponent's goal line.

Passing and Scoring

Teams progress the ball through passing it between players. The ball can be passed laterally or backward but not forward. If a player catches the ball and is tackled before scoring a try, the attacking team is awarded a set of six tackles to attempt to score. A try is achieved when a player successfully grounds the ball on or behind the opponent's goal line.

4. Player Positions

Rugby league involves various player positions, each with distinct roles and responsibilities. Here are the key positions:


The fullback is positioned at the back of the team's defensive line. They play a vital role in organizing the defence and catching high kicks. Additionally, they are often involved in the team's attacking plays by joining the backline and providing support.


The wingers are positioned on the edges of the field. Their primary role is to finish tries by grounding the ball in the opponent's in-goal area. Wingers also contribute to defensive efforts, covering their respective areas and making tackles.


The centres play a significant role in both attacking and defensive aspects of the game. Positioned between the wingers, they receive the ball from the halfbacks or five-eighths and aim to create opportunities for their teammates. Centres also participate in defensive formations, aiming to shut down the opposing team's attacks.


The halfbacks are considered the playmakers of the team. They control the team's attacking moves, orchestrate the distribution of the ball, and often make strategic kicks. Halfbacks play a crucial role in determining the team's direction on the field and coordinating the efforts of other players.


The five-eighths, also known as stand-offs, work closely with the halfbacks in organizing the team's attacking plays. They are responsible for supporting the halfbacks, distributing the ball to the centers, and providing an additional kicking option. Five-eighths need to possess good decision-making skills and the ability to execute tactical moves effectively.

Lock Forwards

The lock forwards position themselves at the back of the scrum, a set-piece formation where players bind together to contest possession of the ball. Lock forwards provide support to both the attacking and defensive aspects of the game, often acting as a link between the forwards and the backline.

Second Row Forwards

The second row forwards are positioned on the edges of the scrum. They play versatile roles, involving themselves in both attacking and defensive efforts. Second row forwards possess a combination of strength, agility, and skill, making them effective in ball-carrying and tackling.

Front Row Forwards

The front row forwards position themselves at the front of the scrum. They are known for their physicality and strength, as they play a crucial role in winning possession during scrums and providing stability to the team's set-pieces. Front row forwards also contribute to the tackling and rucking aspects of the game.

5. Fouls and Penalties

Rugby league has strict rules regarding fouls and penalties. Some common fouls include high tackles, late tackles, and obstruction. When a foul is committed, the opposing team is awarded a penalty, which grants them an opportunity to advance the ball or take a kick at goal. Consistent adherence to fair play and disciplined conduct is essential for both individual players and teams.

6. Scoring System

Rugby league offers multiple ways to score points:

  • Try: A try is the most valuable scoring action and is worth four points. It is awarded when a player grounds the ball on or behind the opponent's goal line.

  • Conversion: After a try is scored, the attacking team has the opportunity to kick a conversion. A successful conversion adds two points to the team's score.

  • Penalty Goal: If a team is awarded a penalty, they can choose to kick at goal. A successful penalty goal adds two points to the team's score.

  • Field Goal: A field goal is achieved by drop-kicking the ball over the crossbar and between the goalposts during open play. It is worth one point.

7. Duration of the Game

A standard rugby league match consists of two halves, each lasting 40 minutes, resulting in a total playing time of 80 minutes. There is a halftime break of 10 minutes, allowing players to rest, receive instructions from the coaching staff, and strategize for the second half.

8. Conclusion

Understanding the rules of rugby league is essential for anyone passionate about the sport. From the objective of scoring tries to the player positions, fouls, and scoring systems, each aspect contributes to the dynamic and captivating nature of the game. Whether you're a player aspiring to excel on the field or a fan wanting to fully appreciate the sport, a solid understanding of the rules enhances your experience and enjoyment of rugby league.

9. Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Can a player pass the ball forward in rugby league?

No, in rugby league, passing the ball forward is not allowed. The ball can only be passed laterally or backward, promoting fair play and maintaining the integrity of the game.

Q2: What happens if a player drops the ball during a tackle?

If a player loses possession of the ball and it travels forward, it is considered a knock-on. The opposing team is then awarded a scrum, providing them with an opportunity to gain possession and launch an attack.

Q3: How many tackles does a team get before they have to surrender possession?

A team has a set of six tackles to attempt to advance the ball and score. If they fail to score or gain significant ground within these tackles, possession is handed over to the opposing team.

Q4: Can a player score a try by touching the ball down with just one hand?

Yes, a player can score a try by grounding the ball with any part of their body, including one hand. As long as the ball is grounded on or behind the opponent's goal line, a try is awarded.

Q5: Can a player kick the ball through the goalposts during open play?

Yes, during open play, if a player successfully drop-kicks the ball through the goalposts, it is counted as a field goal and adds one point to the team's score.

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