What Is Ruck In Rugby?

Photo of author
Written By Hutch

Rugby involves a lot of physical activity, which takes place during actual play. This, in turn, makes it seem like a rowdy game to the casual fans who often misinterpret various rules and terms involved. One of these confusing rugby terms is the ruck.

That is the reason why we came up with this short but in-depth article with every detail on the term in rugby and what it means.

Rugby Ruck Explained

In rugby, there is often a scenario where one of the players of the opposing team tackles the other with the ball. When the game reaches this stage, the tackled player gets an opportunity to release the rugby ball immediately, which will be contested by other players at a position ground level. The referee declares a ruck when these players from both teams engage in physical contact over the loose ball. When this scene plays, all the rugby players involved are called ruckers.

Why Rucking Is Important In Rugby

Image: Cube blocks arranged on a yellow background.

Efficient use of rucking opportunities can turn the result of a rugby game, as evident in this tweet from @Englandrugby:

That’s it. Samoa lost the scrum but recovered the ball with some brilliant counter-rucking. They win a superb game 15-14.

Below, we have outlined some of these significant reasons why a ruck is important in the game of rugby:

  • Space Creation

It is difficult to crack through an active team in an on-field play during a rugby game. That is why the ruck is important, as it creates openings for both teams by drawing players to the point of the ruck. It, in turn, creates sufficient chances for the attacking side to exploit defensive gaps and for the defensive line to strategize calculative moves for perfect counters.

  • Opportunity For Penalties

A rugby ruck is one of the most sensitive situations in rugby. As such, should the attacking team lead the session, they will place the defending team at risk of errors that can lead to possible penalties.

  • Chance To Retain Possession

Since both teams aim to maintain possession to control the game during the ruck, it becomes an intensive session. This moment helps determine which side has the needed skills to maintain momentum.

Rugby Ruck Rules

Rucking has many rules that players must follow to avoid any fouls. Below, we have developed a table outlining these rules and how they apply during active play:

Ruck RuleDetails
Hands Off The BallPlayers cannot use their hands to play the ball while in a ruck.
Gate EntryA player can only enter the ruck from the gate. Entering from the side is a foul, which results in a penalty if the defensive side defaults on the rule.
Safe ClearingIn an active ruck session, a player cannot perform unsafe acts like making head contact, doing a shoulder charge, or clearing out players roughly. Such rowdy actions easily lead to fouls while in a ruck.
Offside LineOnce a referee declares a ruck, a new offside line is set at the last foot of a player’s teammate in the ruck. It means all the players outside the ruck must play based on these new offside lines.

FAQs About Rucking In Rugby

How is a ruck formed?

The referee declares a ruck when a tackled player releases the ball for other players to arrive and engage in the ruck for the loose ball.

What is the goal of a ruck?

The primary goal of both rugby teams in a ruck is to secure possession by disrupting the flow of the opposition team.

What is the term for using your hands in the ruck?

‘Handling’ is the term for using your hands to play the rugby ball in a ruck. It is illegal and can result in a penalty for the opposing team.

Final Words

From the information in the preceding parts of this article, you can clearly understand the purpose of a ruck in rugby. While a ruck involves some elements of physicality, it is more of a skill-based activity for both teams. Once you understand how it works, you will enjoy rugby all the more and appreciate the game better.

Leave a Comment