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Rugby Sevens Rules, 2011 College Championships: How Does It Differ From Rugby Union?

For those of you wondering what's going on watching NBC, Rugby Sevens is in full swing in the championship stage. You might be wondering exactly what the rules are and how they differ from International Rugby.

Here are the basic rules of rugby.

  • Coin toss to decide which team kicks off, just like football. 
  • Play starts with a drop kick (like a punt, although no one snaps them the ball). 
  • The team that kicks off the ball will try to retrieve it; the other players chase the ball into the opposition territory.
  • When a tackle occurs, a ruck generally results--when two players are locked in contact with the ball on the ground, the ruck is formed. They then attempt to push the other side back, and players have to use the feet to hook the ball backwards to their teammates.
  • A maul occurs when a player is held by multiple players, and it unfolds similar to a ruck.
  • When a ball goes out of bounds, a lineout is awarded to the team that touched the ball last. 
  • Forward passing is not allowed.
  • Tries are scored between goal line and dead ball line and are awarded five points. 
  • Conversions are kicked from where the ball is touched down in the end zone and are awarded two points.
For those interested in the variants between rugby sevens and rugby union, here they are.

  • Seven players instead of 15.
  • Five subs instead of seven.
  • Seven minute halves, extended to ten in championship games (instead of 40).
  • One minute half-time, two minutes in finals (instead of 10).
  • Five minute periods of Extra Time if its tied after regulation.
  • Conversion attempts must be drop-kicked and need to be taken within 40 seconds.
  • Three player scrums to get the ball (instead of the customary eight, which is monstrous!).
  • Kickoffs are like regular football (in rugby union, the conceding team kicks off).
  • Yellow cards are a two minute suspension instead of ten.
Enjoy the championship game on NBC!