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What Is a Rugby Union Scoring System?

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Understanding the scoring system is key to fully enjoying rugby union, yet for newcomers, it can seem complex. Did you know that a try in rugby union rewards the team with 5 points? This article will break down each aspect of the rugby union’s scoring method, ensuring you grasp how teams pile up their points on the field.

Dive in to score your own knowledge try!

Key Takeaways

  • Rugby union scores come from tries, conversions, penalty kicks, and drop goals with a try being the highest at 5 points.
  • A successful conversion adds an extra 2 points after a try; penalty kicks and drop goals are both worth 3 points each.
  • Teams can earn bonus points in tournaments by scoring four or more tries in one game, increasing the excitement of the sport.
  • Penalty tries award an automatic 7 points when foul play prevents a likely score from happening.
  • Understanding these various ways to score helps fans and players appreciate the strategy behind rugby union games.

What is Rugby and How to Play It

Shifting gears from the basics, let’s delve into rugby itself and how it unfolds on the field. Rugby is a dynamic sport that pits two teams of fifteen players against each other with one clear goal: to score more points than the opponent.

They do this by carrying, passing or kicking an oval-shaped ball to touch it down over the opposing team’s goalline in what is known as a try. Each successful try gives you a shot at adding an extra two points through a conversion kick.

Knowing how to play means understanding both offense and defense strategies. Players must be quick on their feet, able to tackle opponents and sprint downfield while keeping tight control of the ball.

During gameplay, kicking can also lead to scoring via penalty kicks or drop goals when opportunities arise within shooting distance of the posts, valuing precision just as much as power.

Offense involves breaking through defensive lines using speed and tactics; meanwhile, defense calls for stopping opposition advances dead in their tracks before they reach your ingoal area.

The ebb and flow between attack and guard are what make rugby both thrilling to watch and challenging to master.

Types of Points in Rugby Union Scoring System

In rugby union, points can be scored through various methods such as tries, conversions, penalty kicks, and drop goals. Each scoring method carries a specific number of points which add to the team’s total score.

Try – 5 points

A try in rugby scores the most points, with 5 awarded to the team that successfully grounds the ball over the opponents’ goal-line in the in-goal area. This essential score is a major focus of every game and can significantly impact a team’s success, making it a key element of rugby union.

Being able to secure a try provides teams with an opportunity to not only add points to their scoreboard but also gain momentum and build confidence during play.

Scoring tries is vital for a team’s success as they are worth more than any other scoring method, making them an integral part of achieving victory on the rugby field. The ability to execute and defend against tries becomes crucial for teams striving for success in each match.

Conversion – 2 points

After a try has been scored, a conversion kick can be taken. The ball is placed on the ground at any point on an imaginary line running straight back from where the try was scored.

The kicker then attempts to convert the try by kicking it between the goalposts and over the crossbar, this action awards 2 points to their team.

The conversion attempt must be taken within one minute of time elapsing from when the try was awarded. If successful, it adds extra points to those already gained through scoring a try, making it an important opportunity for teams to increase their points tally in a match.

Penalty Kick – 3 points

A penalty kick in rugby union is a valuable opportunity for a team to score 3 points. It is awarded after an infringement by the opposition, where the kicker aims to slot the ball between the goalposts and above the crossbar.

This can occur when an opposing player commits a foul or handling error within kicking range of their own posts, granting the other team a penalty. The successful conversion of this penalty results in three vital points that can significantly impact the outcome of the game.

A well-executed penalty kick demands precision and skill from both the kicker and their supporting teammates. Strategically utilised, it serves as a crucial method for accumulating points throughout a match, providing teams with opportunities to close gaps in scorelines or secure victories against resilient opponents.

Drop Goal – 3 points

After discussing the penalty kick, let’s move on to another method of scoring – the drop goal. This is when a player kicks the ball through the opponent’s goal posts during open play.

It’s worth three points and can be a game-changer in tight matches. The drop goal requires quick thinking, accuracy, and good timing to catch opponents off guard. When executed effectively, it can be an exciting and decisive moment in a rugby match.

In contrast with other scoring methods like tries or conversions, the drop goal is unique as it doesn’t require grounding the ball over the try line or after scoring a try. This makes it an essential skill for players aiming to secure points from distance or under pressure when there might not be enough time or space for other scoring opportunities.

How to Score a Try and Get Bonus Points

To score a try in rugby, the ball must be grounded in the opponent’s in-goal area. Bonus points may also be awarded for scoring four or more tries in a match.

Grounding the ball in the in-goal area

To score a try in rugby union, a player must ground the ball in the opponents’ in-goal area. This is achieved by placing downward pressure on the ball with their hand or hands. When the ball makes contact with the ground and remains under control, it constitutes a successful grounding of the ball, resulting in 5 points being awarded to the scoring team.

A penalty try can also be awarded if foul play from the defending team prevents a likely try from occurring. In this instance, no actual grounding of the ball is required for 7 points to be awarded to the attacking team.

Penalty try

When a player would have scored a try, but is prevented from doing so due to foul play by the defending team, the match referee may award a penalty try. This results in seven points being awarded (five for the try and two for the conversion).

The decision to award a penalty try is made when foul play prevents an almost certain score, ensuring that teams cannot benefit from intentionally illegal actions.

A penalty try emphasises fair gameplay and discourages deliberate rule-breaking tactics. It serves as both a punishment against offending players and ensures that teams are not wrongly deprived of potential scores due to illegal actions.

Understanding the Bonus Points System

Rugby union tournaments award bonus points to teams that score four or more tries in a match. This encourages attacking play and adds an extra incentive for teams to strive for try-scoring opportunities.

In addition to the standard four points awarded for a win and two points for a draw, teams can secure bonus points by reaching specific try-scoring milestones during matches. This system not only rewards impressive offensive performances but also contributes to the overall excitement of the game.

Understanding how bonus points are earned can add another layer of appreciation for the strategic elements of rugby union. It underscores the importance of dynamic, fast-paced gameplay while creating added intrigue and tension throughout tournament fixtures.


In conclusion, the rugby union scoring system is designed to reward teams for their offensive and defensive prowess. Tries are the most substantial score, while conversion kicks, penalty kicks, and drop goals contribute to a team’s total points.

Bonus points are also awarded for achieving specific milestones during a match. Understanding these scoring rules adds depth to viewing and playing rugby union matches.


1. How do you score in Rugby Union?

In Rugby Union, you can score points by grounding the ball over the goal line for a touchdown, kicking it through the goalposts, or scoring a drop goal during open play.

2. What are tournament points?

Tournament points are awarded to teams in rugby competitions based on their performance in each match; including points for winning or drawing matches and possibly bonus points for scoring a certain number of tries or losing by a small margin.

3. Can you explain some basic rugby rules related to scoring?

Sure! A try is worth five points and happens when a player grounds the ball behind the opponent’s goal line. After scoring a try, players have the chance to kick a conversion for an extra two points.

4. Is there any other way to score than touching down or kicking?

Yes, besides touchdowns and conversions, players can also kick penalty goals if opponents commit fouls. Each successful penalty kick earns three points.

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