BeginnerTop 50+ Rugby Terms for Analysing Games
Rugby Analysis Jargon | RugbySmarts

Top 50+ Rugby Terms for Analysing Games

If you are new to the game of rugby or are looking to improve a basic understanding of the game, RugbySmarts have a Rugby Analysis Beginner Series to help advance your knowledge of the sport. To make the most of using AI-driven rugby analysis software like RugbySmarts, it helps to have a foundational understanding of the terminology used in the game.

Analyzing the game of rugby involves understanding the lingo – a range of terms that cover various aspects of play including attacking & defensive strategies, passing, tackling scoring. In this article, we take a look at some of the most commonly used terms in rugby … and some less common phrases and buzz terms that you will hear along the way.

50+ Commonly Used Rugby Terms & Lingo

Outlined below are more than 50 of the most frequently used buzzwords in rugby union lingo in alphabetical (A-z) order.

1 Advantage

A rule allowing play to continue if a team has suffered an infringement but can still benefit from keeping the play alive without a stoppage from the referee.

2 Blindside

This is side of the field opposite to where the scrum-half stands during a scrum; also, generally the narrower side of the pitch containing fewer players.

3 Blitz defence

Defensive strategy with aggressive rushing to disrupt attacking plays.

4 Bonus Point

Designed to encourage attacking play, bonus points are awarded in league format tournaments for scoring at least 4 tries per game or losing a game by less than a preset margin (e.g. 7 points).

5 Breakdown

The general area around a tackled player where rucks and mauls occur.

6 Bridge Defence

Defensive strategy where players create a barrier to prevent attackers from breaking through.

7 Conversion

Kick taken after a try, aimed at adding two points by slotting the ball between the goalposts.

8 Corkscrew Kick

High spinning kick, used for tactical purposes such as forcing a lineout deep in the opponent’s territory.

9 Counter-Attack

Quick offensive play initiated by the defending team after gaining possession.

10 Crash Tackle

This is an attacking tactical move where a player receives the ball at speed and runs directly at the opposing team aiming to break the defensive line but also attempting to draw in opposing players to make a tackle, creating space for other attacking team-mates to break the defensive line.

11 Counter-Rucking

Defensive players aggressively competing at the breakdown to disrupt the attacking team’s possession.

12 Dogleg Defence

Defensive flaw with a misalignment in the defensive line, creating gaps for attacking team players to exploit.

13 Draw and Pass

Manouevre where a player draws in defenders before passing to a team-mate in a better position.

14 Drift Defence

Defensive strategy where players move laterally to cover space and prevent exploitation.

15 Drop Goal

Method of scoring worth three points, drop-kicking the ball through the goalposts during open play.

16 Dummy Pass

Deceptive pass where a player pretends to distribute the ball to a dummy runner but keeps possession.

17 Dummy Runner

An attacking player runs towards the opposition as though preparing to receive a pass, drawing defensive players towards him/her as a diversion for the real attack

18 Exit Strategy

Planned approach to move the ball out of the defensive zone and relieve pressure.

19 Fracture Point

Area in the defensive line where attackers aim to create a gap or exploit a weakness.

20 Gain Line

This is an imaginary line across the field which starting at the position the previous play started from. The aim of attacking coaching strategy is to surpass the gain line with each play, whereas defence coaches will focus on minimising gains.

21 Garryowen

Named after Garryowen FC in Limerick, Ireland and also known as an up-and-under, this is a high, contestable kick, often used in attacking situations to try to regain possession further up the field.

22 Green Zone

Area of the field close to the opponent’s try line, associated with high-scoring opportunities.

23 Grubber Kick

Low, bouncing kick along the ground, used for territory or catching opponents off guard.

24 Grubber Kick Chase

Intentional pursuit of a grubber kick by attacking players to regain possession or pressure the opponent.

25 Illegal Wheeling

If the scrum pack is weaker on one side than the other and losing ground to the opposing pack, causing the scrum to turn or wheel. This is considered dangerous

26 In-Field Decision Making

Ability of players to make effective decisions during live play based on the game situation.

27 In-Field Vision

Ability of players to assess the playing field, identify opportunities, and make informed decisions.

28 Infield Kick

Kick directed towards the center of the field to regain possession or create a contestable situation.

29 Knock-On

When the ball goes forward as a result of lost possession, or when a player hits the ball forward with the hand or arm (either deliberately or accidentally) and the ball touches the ground or another player before the player who lost possession can recover the ball.

30 Lineout

A set piece where players compete to catch the ball thrown in from the sideline by the hooker of the attacking team.

31 Line Speed

This is the pace at which the defensive line runs towards the attacking team once the ball is played out from a set piece or breakdown

32 Maul

Similar to a ruck but involves players binding onto a ball carrier on their feet.

33 Offload
Offloading the ball is when a tackled player manages to release the ball to a team-mate to maintain attacking momentum despite the pressure and constraints of the arriving tackle.

34 Open Side

This is the side of the field opposite to the blindside during a set piece.

35 Overlap

Situation where a team has more players on one side of the field than the opposition, creating opportunities for attack.

36 Pack

The pack (or forward pack) involves up to 8 forward players (numbers 1 – 8) from either team who contest a scrum.

37 Penalty

A punishment awarded for an opponent’s infringement, often resulting in a kick.

38 Phase Efficiency

Effectiveness in maintaining possession and advancing through consecutive phases.

39 Phase Play

Consecutive set of plays including passes, rucks, and mauls.

40 Pillar Defence

Defensive strategy where players position near the breakdown, forming a strong foundation.

41 Pincer Movement

Tactical manoeuvre where attackers approach the defence from two or more directions, creating confusion.

42 Pod Split

Breaking a pod (group of players) into different directions to stretch the opposition’s defence.

43 Red Zone

Area of the field close to the opponent’s try line, considered a critical scoring zone.

44 Ruck

A phase of play where players compete for the ball on the ground after a tackle.

45 Scrum

A set piece involving the forward ‘pack’ from each team contesting for possession. This is done by binding together and interlocking with the opposing teams front row.

46 Second Phase

Attack Continuation of an attacking play beyond the initial phase, often involving quick ball recycling and offloading.

47 Switch Play

Tactical manoeuvre changing the direction of play quickly from one side of the field to the other.

48 Switchback

Deceptive play where the direction of attack is reversed quickly, catching the opposition off guard.

49 Trucking

Act of a ball carrier driving forward with support from teammates to gain ground in contact situations.

50 Truck & Trailer

This the tactic of moving the ball to the player at the back of the maul before contact is made with the defence.

51 Try

A five point score for touching the ball down behind the opponents goal line.

52 Weakside

Side of the field with fewer players, often targeted by attackers to exploit numerical advantages.

53 Wraparound

Tactical move where a player passes and runs behind the receiver to create confusion.

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There you have it, over 50 of the most commonly used phrases and buzz words in rugby union.

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