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What Is an Advantage in Rugby?

Rugby player in action, reaching for the ball during a night match.

Ever felt lost when a rugby referee calls “advantage“? It’s a rule that can shift the momentum of the game in an instant. This article will break down what advantage is in rugby, making sure you’re never puzzled at the pitchside again.

Get ready to gain insight and enjoy the thrill of this dynamic rule!

Key Takeaways

  • Advantage in rugby lets the non-offending team play on after a foul, which keeps the game lively and cuts down on interruptions.
  • The referee has the choice to signal advantage and decide when it ends, based on whether it benefits the team affected by an infringement.
  • There are time limits for how long a team can use their advantage to encourage fast-paced action and quick strategic thinking during games.
  • Different types of advantage include tactical, where teams outsmart opponents; territorial, gaining ground towards scoring; and phase advantage during continuous play sequences.
  • Understanding when advantage is over helps players adapt quickly to changes in gameplay, ensuring fair competition throughout the match.

Understanding the Advantage Law

The Advantage Law in rugby allows the nonoffending team to continue play after an infringement. It serves the purpose of keeping the game flowing and encouraging tactical play.

Definition of Advantage

An advantage in rugby is a crucial rule that allows play to continue after an infringement if it benefits the non-offending team. Instead of stopping the game immediately, referees give the affected side a chance to maintain their momentum and possibly gain substantial ground or score points.

This aspect of the game encourages teams to make dynamic plays even when facing an infraction by their opponents.

It adds depth to strategies since players can seize this window of opportunity to pull off ambitious moves without worrying about losing possession due to penalties against them. By not halting for every knock-on or offside, advantage keeps rugby fast-paced and exciting for both players and supporters alike.

Teams know they can extend their attack or solidify defence as long as they hold onto this temporary edge over their adversaries provided by such infringements.

Its purpose in rugby

After understanding the definition of Advantage, it’s essential to grasp its purpose in rugby. The advantage law is designed to keep the game flowing by allowing play to continue when a foul has been committed.

This means that if a team would benefit from playing on rather than stopping for a penalty, then they have an advantage. It encourages continuous play and provides scope for teams to take strategic risks without fear of being penalised, ultimately promoting exciting and dynamic gameplay.

Furthermore, advantage gives teams the opportunity to capitalise on momentum — maintaining possession and potentially scoring — thus enhancing the overall excitement and competitiveness of the game.

How the Advantage Law Works

The advantage law in rugby gives the team in possession of the ball the chance to play on if they would benefit from doing so. The referee has discretion to allow play to continue, and there is a time limit within which the advantage must be gained.

Referee’s discretion

The referee has the authority to apply advantage when a team commits an offence, giving the non-offending team the opportunity to continue playing. It is up to the discretion of the referee to determine whether there is a clear and tangible benefit for the non-offending team.

If they decide that it would be advantageous for them to continue playing rather than stopping for a penalty, they will signal this by raising their arm and calling “advantage.”.

As part of their decision-making process, referees assess whether there is a genuine opportunity for the non-offending team to advance or maintain possession. This allows play to flow smoothly while ensuring that teams have a fair chance at gaining ground or scoring points without being penalised for an infringement.

Time limit

When the referee applies the advantage law, there is a time limit for the attacking team to capitalise on their momentum. Once the advantage is given, teams have a window of opportunity to make strategic plays before it expires.

This time limit incentivises quick thinking and calculated risk-taking, encouraging dynamic and exciting gameplay that keeps rugby fans on the edge of their seats.

To maintain the flow of the game, referees monitor and assess this time frame closely, ensuring that teams are provided with ample opportunity but not an unfair advantage that disrupts fair play.

Types of Advantage

The Advantage Law in rugby can come in different forms, including tactical advantage, territorial advantage, and phase advantage. Each type of advantage allows the team to capitalise on different opportunities during the game.


Tactical advantage in rugby occurs when a team gains an edge by strategically positioning players or executing specific plays during the game. It allows them to maintain control of the ball and dictate the flow of play, creating opportunities to exploit weaknesses in the opposing team’s defense and launching calculated attacks.

This type of advantage demands quick thinking, skillful decision-making, and precise execution from players as they aim to outmaneuver their opponents on the field. Understanding how to leverage tactical advantage effectively can significantly impact a team’s ability to gain ground and score points.

Moving on from tactical advantage, let’s explore another crucial aspect of rugby – Territorial Advantage.


Territorial advantage in rugby is gained when a team gains ground or position on the field, leading to a better chance of scoring. Possessing territorial advantage allows the attacking team to keep the ball in their opponent’s half, exerting pressure and creating opportunities for line breaks and tries.

This can force the defending team into making mistakes, difficulty clearing their lines or getting out of their own half.

Territorial advantage enables teams to build momentum and apply continuous pressure, increasing the likelihood of turnovers and penalties being awarded against their opponents. The attacking team can then take advantage of these situations by maintaining possession, applying strategic kicking tactics or setting up advantageous set pieces close to their opponent’s try line.


When a team has advantage during a match, they have the opportunity to capitalise on the momentum and maintain possession. This can occur after a foul or penalty committed by the opposing team.

The phase of play during which advantage is applied allows the attacking team to continue their offensive efforts without being penalised for an infringement. It is crucial for teams to recognise and utilise this strategic edge effectively in order to make significant advancements on the field.

Understanding how advantage works in different phases can provide teams with valuable insights into maximising their tactical plays. Moving forward, let’s delve into how territorial advantages impact rugby gameplay.

When Advantage Is Over

– Signaled by the referee when a team has not gained any significant advantage from an infringement. Scenarios where advantage may be over include when the ball is knocked on, or if the non-offending team commits an infringement themselves.

Signaled by the referee

The referee signifies the end of advantage by blowing their whistle and making a hand gesture. This indicates that the team no longer has an advantage, allowing play to be restarted from the point where the original infringement occurred.

The decision to end advantage is entirely at the discretion of the referee based on whether they believe it offers a genuine benefit to the attacking team.

The referee’s signaling also serves as a cue for players and coaches to adjust their tactics or make strategic decisions. It prompts both teams to reset and prepare for the restart of play, ensuring fair competition and maintaining momentum in the game.

Scenarios where advantage may be over

  1. The non – offending team fails to gain any significant advantage from the foul.
  2. The attacking team commits another offence after gaining advantage, resulting in play being brought back for a penalty.
  3. The referee decides that the advantage has been fully utilised and it is in the best interest of the game to stop play.
  4. A team deliberately infringes on the rules after gaining an advantage, leading to a reversal of play for the original infringement.
  5. The scrum collapses after an attacking team gains territorial advantage, causing the referee to stop play and award a scrum or free-kick.

Importance of the Advantage Law

The Advantage Law is crucial in rugby as it keeps the game flowing, encourages tactical play, and reduces stoppages. It allows for a fair and competitive match without constant interruptions.

Keeps the game flowing

Advantage in rugby keeps the game flowing, allowing for a more dynamic and continuous match experience. It enables teams to maintain possession and play on despite a foul being committed, reducing stoppages and promoting an exciting, fast-paced game.

With advantage, there is room for tactical plays and high-risk strategies, adding an element of anticipation and excitement for both players and fans.

When advantage is in effect, it encourages strategic decision-making that can lead to thrilling offensive opportunities. This ensures that the momentum of the game is maintained, keeping players engaged and creating a captivating experience for spectators.

Encourages tactical play

Encouraging strategic and tactical play, the advantage law in rugby presents an opportunity for teams to capitalise on the momentum gained after an infringement. This encourages creative decision-making and calculated risk-taking by the attacking team, promoting a dynamic and unpredictable style of gameplay that keeps both players and viewers engaged.

By allowing for tactical manoeuvres during advantage situations, teams can exploit their opponents’ defensive weaknesses while maintaining possession, creating an environment where quick thinking, adaptability, and skillful execution become paramount.

With this impetus towards astute playmaking, coaches focus on developing players who can think critically under pressure and execute precise strategies when presented with advantageous scenarios.

The opportunity for high-risk plays during advantage fosters creativity in team tactics which ultimately adds layers of excitement to the game while deepening each player’s understanding of strategy – crucial elements that drive spectators’ engagement with the sport.

Reduces stoppages

Advantage in rugby reduces stoppages, allowing the game to flow continuously. When a team has advantage, play is allowed to continue despite a foul being committed. This means that the non-offending team can keep playing without interruptions, which keeps the momentum of the game going and creates an exciting environment for both players and fans alike.

By reducing stoppages, advantage gives teams the opportunity to maintain possession and capitalise on any strategic advantages they may have gained. It encourages quick thinking and dynamic decision-making from players as they strive to make the most out of having the upper hand during gameplay.

This ensures that fans are treated to fast-paced and thrilling action throughout the match.

Commonly Confused Terms

Knock-on vs advantage, mark vs advantage, penalty try vs advantage – understanding the differences is crucial for any rugby fan. Keep reading to learn more about these terms and improve your knowledge of the game!

Knock-on vs advantage

A knock-on occurs when a player unintentionally hits the ball forward with their hand or arm. It results in a scrum being awarded to the opposing team, halting play. Advantages, on the other hand, allow the non-offending team to continue playing despite a foul being committed by the opposition.

When advantage is in place, it’s an opportunity for attacking teams to capitalise on momentum and maintain possession without interruptions, presenting an ideal moment for high-risk plays.

Understanding these differences is crucial for players and fans alike as they impact game flow significantly. While a knock-on results in stoppage and turnover of possession, advantage offers strategic opportunities for furthering one team’s offensive drive.

Mastering these distinctions can provide teams with valuable leverage during matches.

Mark vs advantage

Advantage in rugby is a pivotal concept that sets it apart from a mark. While advantage allows the game to continue despite an infringement, a mark comes into play when a player catches the ball directly from an opponent’s kick and claims the catch by shouting “Mark”.

In contrast, advantage provides the non-offending team with an opportunity to capitalise on their momentum and maintain possession after an infringement occurs. The mark only applies within specific areas of the field, whereas advantage can be gained anywhere on the pitch.

The distinction between these two terms is crucial for players and fans alike since understanding and utilising them effectively can give a team a strategic edge in a match. With this knowledge, teams can make informed decisions based on whether they should aim for high-risk plays under advantage or opt for more tactical gameplay when awarded with a mark.

Penalty try vs advantage

When comparing a penalty try with advantage in rugby, it’s essential to recognise the key difference between the two. A penalty try is awarded when a player would have scored if not for an illegal act by the opposition.

On the other hand, advantage allows play to continue after an infringement rather than stopping for a penalty. With advantage, the non-offending team has an opportunity to capitalise on the momentum and maintain possession without needing a stoppage in play.

Understanding this distinction is crucial for players and fans alike as it influences strategic decisions during gameplay and contributes to the flow of the match. While a penalty try provides immediate scoring opportunities under special circumstances, taking advantage of continuous play can often lead to tactical gains beyond what may be achieved through a single scoring opportunity.


Understanding advantage in rugby is crucial for players and fans alike. It allows the game to flow smoothly, encourages strategic plays, and rewards tactical decisions. The advantage law enhances the excitement of the game, giving teams opportunities to maintain momentum and capitalise on their offensive moves.

Embracing this aspect of rugby can significantly impact a team’s performance and outcome on the field.


1. What does ‘advantage’ mean in rugby?

In rugby, advantage lets the team that didn’t make a mistake keep playing to gain territory or score points, even after rules like knock-on or offside are broken by the other team.

2. How long does an advantage last in Rugby Union?

The referee decides how long the advantage lasts in Rugby Union; it goes on until the non-offending team gains significant territory or until the ref sees no more benefit.

3. Can a team score during an advantage period?

Yes, if a team gets an opportunity during advantage and tackles it correctly, they can definitely go ahead and score.

4. What happens if there’s no gain from an advantage in rugby?

If no gain comes from playing under advantage, like gaining good ground or making progress, then play stops and the original offence is penalised.

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