How Does Scoring Work in Rugby? A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding the Scoring System in Rugby

Scoring in rugby is determined by the number of points a team accumulates during a match. There are several ways to score in rugby, each offering different point values. The most common way to score is by scoring a try, which is worth five points. A try occurs when a player successfully grounds the ball in the opponent’s in-goal area. After scoring a try, the scoring team is awarded the opportunity to kick for an additional two points, known as a conversion. To execute a conversion, the team must kick the ball through the opponent’s uprights and over the crossbar. Teams can also score three points by successfully kicking a penalty goal, which is awarded for certain rule infringements by the opposing team. Additionally, teams can earn three points through a drop goal, where a player kicks the ball through the goal posts during open play, without the need for a scrum or lineout. These different scoring methods contribute to the overall score of the match, allowing teams to strategically accumulate points throughout the game.

The Basics of Rugby Scoring

Rugby is a fast-paced and exciting sport that can be quite complex to those unfamiliar with its rules and scoring system. In this article, we will explore the basics of rugby scoring, including the different ways points can be earned and how they are tallied.

Scoring in Rugby

The main objective of rugby is to score more points than the opposing team. Points can be earned in several ways, including tries, conversions, penalties, and drop goals. Each scoring method has its own value, which contributes to the overall score of the game.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these scoring methods:


In rugby, a try is the most coveted and valuable way to score points. It is worth 5 points and is awarded when a player successfully grounds the ball in the opposition’s in-goal area (similar to scoring a touchdown in American football). To score a try, a player must carry the ball over the opposition’s try line or touch it to the ground while in the in-goal area.

After scoring a try, the scoring team has the chance to earn additional points with a conversion kick.


Following a successful try, the scoring team is given the opportunity to earn 2 more points through a conversion kick. The conversion kick is taken from a spot in line with where the try was scored, perpendicular to the try line. The kicker attempts to kick the ball through the uprights of the opposition’s goalpost. If successful, 2 points are added to the team’s score.

A conversion kick must be taken within 40 seconds of a try being scored, adding an exciting time constraint to the game. If the kicker is unsuccessful in converting the try, no points are awarded, and play resumes with a restart from the 22-meter line.


When the opposing team commits a penalty or foul, the non-offending team is awarded a penalty kick. This is an opportunity to earn 3 points. The team with the penalty can choose to kick for goal by attempting a penalty kick or they can choose to kick for touch and gain territorial advantage. If a penalty kick is successful, 3 points are added to the scoring team’s tally.

Penalty kicks can be taken from anywhere on the field, so a team may choose to attempt a kick from a favorable angle or distance to increase their chances of scoring.

Drop Goals

A drop goal is another method of scoring in rugby and is worth 3 points. It involves a player kicking the ball through the goalposts in open play, usually from a drop or bounce off the ground. Unlike a penalty kick, a drop goal can be attempted at any point during the game. It is often used as a strategic play when a team is close to the opposition’s try line but cannot break through their defense to score a try.

Drop goals can be challenging to execute as they require good timing, accuracy, and kicking technique.

Rugby scoring adds an exciting and dynamic element to the game, with multiple ways for teams to earn points and gain an advantage. Understanding the basics of rugby scoring is essential for both players and spectators to fully appreciate the strategic nature of the game.

Understanding Try Scoring in Rugby

2. How is a try scored?

In rugby, a try is the main way for a team to score points. It is worth the most points in the game, and signifies a significant achievement for the scoring team. A try is scored when a player from the attacking team successfully grounds the ball in the opponent’s in-goal area, also known as the try zone.

When a try is being attempted, the attacking player must carry, catch, or kick the ball into the in-goal area and then physically place the ball on the ground. It is important to note that simply touching the ball against the ground is not enough; the ball must be grounded with control and pressure.

Once the ball has been grounded, the scoring team is awarded five points. This is the standard value for a try in rugby. It doesn’t matter where the try is scored within the in-goal area or how the ball is grounded, as long as it is done legally. To increase the score even further, teams have the opportunity to convert the try into additional points through a conversion kick.

The Role of Conversions in Rugby Scoring

Conversions play a crucial role in rugby scoring. They are a way for teams to earn additional points after scoring a try. Here’s a closer look at how conversions work and their significance in the game.

The Basics of Conversions

After a team scores a try by grounding the ball in the opponent’s in-goal area, they have the opportunity to attempt a conversion. The conversion is taken from a spot on the field perpendicular to where the try was scored.

  • The spot where the conversion is taken is known as the “conversion line” or “conversion spot.” It is located in line with the spot where the try was scored, but farther away from the goal posts.
  • The attacking team gets to choose the exact spot for the conversion, as long as it is on the line extending from where the try was scored.
  • Once the attacking team has chosen the spot, the kicker from the attacking team takes the conversion kick.
  • The conversion kick must be taken as a drop kick or a place kick. A drop kick involves dropping the ball and kicking it as it bounces off the ground, while a place kick involves placing the ball on the ground before kicking it.
  • If the ball successfully goes over the crossbar and between the goal posts, the conversion is successful, and the attacking team earns an additional two points.
  • If the conversion is missed, the attacking team doesn’t earn any additional points, and play resumes with a restart by the defending team.

Significance of Conversions in Rugby

Conversions are significant because they can greatly impact the outcome of a match. Here’s why:

  • Additional Points: Successful conversions provide the attacking team with two additional points, which can be crucial in a close match. These points can make the difference between a win and a draw, or even swing the momentum of the game.
  • Incentives for Attacking Play: Conversions act as an incentive for teams to strive for more tries rather than settling for penalty kicks. The prospect of earning an extra two points encourages attacking play and rewards teams for successfully scoring tries.
  • Psychological Impact: Conversions not only add points to the scoreboard but also have a psychological impact on the players and teams. Scoring a try and then successfully converting it can boost a team’s confidence and demoralize the opposition. Conversely, missing a conversion can lead to frustration and a loss of momentum.
  • Last-Minute Drama: In close matches, conversions can create thrilling last-minute drama. If a team is trailing by only a few points and manages to score a late try, a successful conversion can result in a victory or a draw, dramatically altering the outcome of the game.

Strategic Considerations

Teams must carefully consider their conversion strategy to maximize their scoring potential:

Factors to ConsiderExample Strategy
Distance from the Goal PostsChoosing a spot for the conversion kick closer to the goal posts can increase the chances of success.
Wind and Weather ConditionsTaking into account the wind direction and strength can help the kicker adjust their aim and power.
Pressure from Defending PlayersQuick decision-making and execution are crucial, as defenders will try to rush and block the conversion.
The ScorelineIf the team needs a certain number of points to close the gap or take the lead, they may opt for riskier conversion attempts to secure more points.

Overall, conversions add strategy, excitement, and potential game-changing moments to the sport of rugby, making them an integral part of the scoring system.

Penalty Kicks and Their Impact on Scoring

Penalty kicks are an essential part of the scoring system in rugby. They are awarded to the opposing team when a penalty has been committed by the defending team. This could include offenses such as a high tackle, offside, or deliberate knock-on.

When a penalty kick is awarded, the attacking team has the option to take a shot at goal, which can earn them a significant number of points. The value of a penalty kick is 3 points, and it can be a game-changer in close matches where every point counts.

The kicker has to place the ball on a kicking tee or the ground, directly in line with where the penalty was awarded. They then have to kick the ball through the goalposts and over the crossbar. If successful, the team is awarded the 3 points, and the game resumes with a kickoff by the team that conceded the penalty.

Penalty kicks have a considerable impact on the scoring in rugby. They provide an opportunity for teams to score points without having to make a significant attacking move or cross the try line. This is particularly helpful when the opposing team’s defense is strong, and it is difficult to make progress towards the try line.

Advantages of Penalty Kicks:Disadvantages of Penalty Kicks:
– Offers a chance to narrow the score gap– Only worth 3 points, while a try is worth 5
– Can be a morale booster for the attacking team– Requires a skilled kicker for success
– Puts pressure on the defending team– Does not guarantee a win, as tries are still necessary

While penalty kicks can positively impact a team’s score, they also have some disadvantages. Although they allow a team to close the score gap, they are worth only 3 points compared to the 5 points awarded for a try. This means that teams need to convert penalty kicks into successful tries to secure a substantial lead.

Additionally, making a successful penalty kick requires a skilled kicker who can accurately aim and strike the ball with power. Not all teams have a player with such expertise, and this can limit their ability to effectively utilize penalty kicks.

Despite these drawbacks, penalty kicks are an integral part of rugby scoring. They put pressure on the defending team, boost morale for the attacking team, and can ultimately contribute to a team’s path to victory. Understanding how to effectively employ penalty kicks can be a game-changer in tight matches and strategic gameplay.

5. Drop Goals: A Unique Scoring Method in Rugby

If you’ve ever watched a rugby match, you may have noticed a player suddenly taking a step back and kicking the ball towards the goalposts from a distance. This is known as a drop goal, and it is a unique scoring method in rugby that requires skill, precision, and some strategy.

A drop goal is worth three points and can be scored during live play. Unlike a penalty kick or a conversion kick, the ball is dropped from the player’s hand and kicked as it hits the ground. Timing is crucial in executing a successful drop goal, as the player must strike the ball just as it bounces off the ground.

Drop goals are often attempted when a team is within kicking range of the goalposts and wants to maximize their chances of scoring points. It can be a strategic move to secure points when a try is not guaranteed or to increase a team’s lead in a close game. However, drop goals are also a riskier scoring option, as they require split-second decisions and are more difficult to execute than other kicks.

There are several key factors to consider when attempting a drop goal. First, the player must position themselves properly, ensuring they have a clear line of sight to the goalposts. They need to assess the distance and angle from which they will kick, taking into account any potential interference from defenders.

Next, the player needs to time their drop and strike the ball accurately. The ball must be dropped between waist and knee height, and the player must make contact with the ball below the knee. This technique helps generate power and ensures a controlled trajectory for the kick.

Furthermore, the player needs to be aware of the conditions on the field, such as wind or rain, which can affect the flight of the ball. Adjustments may need to be made in terms of power, aim, or timing to compensate for these conditions.

Successfully scoring a drop goal requires practice, experience, and composure under pressure. The ability to read the game, assess the situation, and make quick decisions is key to seizing the opportunity to score three valuable points for the team.

Exploring Bonus Points in Rugby Scoring Systems

6. The Importance of Bonus Points

In rugby, bonus points are awarded to teams based on their performance in a match. These bonus points can be crucial in determining the final standings of a team within a competition or league. Understanding the importance of bonus points is essential for both players and spectators.

Teams can earn bonus points in two ways: scoring four or more tries in a match or losing a match by a small margin. These bonus points are valuable as they can impact a team’s position in the standings and their chances of qualifying for playoffs or other important tournaments.

Earning bonus points for scoring tries encourages teams to play an attacking style of rugby. This not only makes the game more exciting for spectators but also promotes a more skillful and creative approach to scoring. Teams are motivated to take risks, try different moves, and capitalize on their scoring opportunities.

On the other hand, the bonus point for losing a match by a small margin can provide some consolation to a team that played well but fell short in the end. It recognizes their efforts and competitiveness, even in defeat. This bonus point system ensures that every match is closely contested and that even losing teams have something to gain.

As a result, the bonus point system adds an extra layer of excitement and meaning to rugby matches. It keeps teams engaged throughout the season and gives them something to strive for in each game. Whether it’s chasing bonus points for their own team or preventing the opposition from earning them, the importance of bonus points cannot be overstated.

Scoring Strategies and Tactics in Rugby Matches

Number 7: Scoring Strategies and Tactics

The number 7 position in rugby is typically assigned to the openside flanker or the first flanker on the side of the scrum. This player is crucial in both the defensive and offensive aspects of the game, and their scoring strategies and tactics can greatly impact the outcome of a match.

As an expert blogger, it is important to highlight the key scoring strategies and tactics that number 7 players often employ to help their team secure points. These include:

  • Support Lines: A number 7 player needs to have a strong understanding of support lines to maximize scoring opportunities. They must be able to anticipate the movement of their teammates and position themselves in a way that allows them to receive the ball in space or in a position to exploit gaps in the opposition’s defense.
  • Offloading: Number 7 players often excel at offloading the ball in contact situations. When tackled, they can quickly release the ball to a teammate before hitting the ground, keeping the play alive and maintaining momentum. This allows for continued attacking pressure and potential try-scoring opportunities.
  • Breakdown Work: The breakdown is an essential aspect of rugby where players compete for possession of the ball after a tackle or during open play. Number 7 players are adept at securing turnovers and winning penalties at the breakdown, allowing their team to score points through successful kicks at goal or gaining attacking opportunities.
  • Supporting the Halfback: Number 7 players often work closely with the scrum-half or halfback, providing an additional passing option or supporting them in quick tap penalties or set-piece moves. This close cooperation allows for fluid and dynamic attacking plays that can catch the opposition off guard.
  • Lineout Expertise: In lineouts, number 7 players play a crucial role in both attacking and defending situations. They are often lifted in the lineout to contest or disrupt the opposition’s throw, or can swiftly move into position to receive the ball if their team is in a favorable position to attack.

Number 7 players are not only skilled in scoring themselves, but they also contribute significantly to the overall team performance by creating scoring opportunities for their teammates. Their ability to read the game, make quick decisions, and execute a variety of tactics make them a vital piece of the scoring puzzle in rugby matches.

Frequently Asked Questions about Scoring in Rugby

How do you score points in rugby?

In rugby, there are several ways to score points. The most common methods are by scoring a try, which is worth 5 points, or kicking a successful conversion after scoring a try, which adds 2 points. A penalty kick or a drop goal, worth 3 points each, can also be scored by successfully kicking the ball over the goalposts.

Can you score points by kicking the ball through the goalposts during regular play?

No, in rugby, you cannot score points by kicking the ball through the goalposts during regular play. Kicking the ball through the goalposts only results in points when it is a successful conversion after scoring a try, a penalty kick, or a drop goal.

What happens if a team scores a try?

If a team scores a try, they are awarded 5 points. After scoring a try, the scoring team also has the opportunity to kick a conversion. If the conversion is successful, they will earn an additional 2 points, bringing their total score to 7 points.

How does a penalty kick work?

When a team is awarded a penalty, they have the option to kick the ball through the goalposts. If the penalty kick is successful, the team is awarded 3 points. The penalty kick is taken from the spot where the penalty foul occurred.

What is a drop goal and how does it work?

A drop goal is a method of scoring in which a player kicks the ball through the goalposts during open play. To score a drop goal, the ball must be dropped to the ground and then kicked as it bounces back up. If the drop goal goes over the goalposts, the team is awarded 3 points.

Thanks for Reading!

We hope you found these FAQs about scoring in rugby helpful. Scoring in rugby can be a complex but exciting aspect of the game. Whether it’s scoring a try, kicking a conversion, or successfully executing a penalty kick or drop goal, every point is crucial to a team’s success. If you have any more questions, feel free to visit us again later. Thanks for reading and enjoy watching the game of rugby!

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