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Rugby League glossary



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Rugby league is a team sport played between two teams of thirteen players.

This is a general glossary of the terminology used in the sport of rugby league. Where words in a sentence are also defined elsewhere in this article, they appear in italics.

See also: Rugby Union Terms Glossary

0-9 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

0-9

10-metre Law

Every time a player is tackled, all defenders, apart from a maximum of two markers, have to retreat 10 metres from the play-the-ball area.

18th man

A player selected as a back-up to the official 17 man squad for a game. The 18th man may be called in to the team if one of the 17 players is injured or ill prior to the start of the match.

40/20 rule

If a player standing no more than 40 metres away from his own try line manages to a kick a ball in general play which bounces in the field of play then goes into touch inside his opponents, 20-metre area, his side gets the head and feed at the scrum.

A

Advantage

"Advantage" is the period of time after an infringement, in which the non-offending side have the opportunity to gain sufficient territory or tactical opportunity to negate the need to stop the game due to the infringement. The referee will signal advantage with their arm out horizontally, toward the non-infringing team. If no tactical or territorial advantage is gained, the referee will whistle, and give the decision that had been delayed. If sufficient advantage is gained, the referee will call "advantage over", and play will continue. The Advantage Law allows the game to flow more freely, and not stop for every minor infringement.

Advantage line

Ankle tap

An ankle-tap or tap-tackle is a form of tackle. It is used when the player carrying the ball is running at speed and a defending player is approaching from behind. Even if the defender is not able to get close enough to the ball-carrier to wrap his arms around him in a conventional tackle, he may still be able to dive at the other player's feet and, with outstretched arm, deliver a tap or hook to the player's foot (or feet) causing the player to stumble.

B

Ball back

If the ball enters touch, then play is restarted by a scrum at the point where the ball left the field of play. However, if the ball is kicked into touch without first bouncing inside the field of play (on the full). In this case, the scrum is taken from level with the place from where the ball was kicked from. The ball is given back to the team who did not kick it out of bounds; ball back is waived in certain circumstances:

  1. If a side elects to kick a penalty into touch
  2. If the kick took place from behind the 40 m line and cleared the 20 m line before going out of play (the 40-20 rule).

Banana kick A medium-range kick performed in general play that goes to off to the side of the kicker rather than in front, for chasers further afield. The aim of the banana kick is to be less predictable than conventional kicks and is named such thus as the rise and fall of the ball is in a curve like that of a banana.

Blindside

The narrow side of the pitch in relation to a scrum or a play the ball; it is the opposite of openside.

Bombs

A bomb or an up and under, is a high, but short-range punt onto or behind the defending team.

C

Caution

A player who deliberately or repeatedly infringes the laws is cautioned, and shown a yellow card. A cautioned player is suspended from playing for ten minutes.

Centre

The centres or 'centre three-quarters' (numbered 3 and 4) are positioned one in from the wings and together complete what is known as the three-quarter line. They are divided into left and right centres.

Usually the best mixture of power and vision, their main role is to try and create attacking opportunities for their team and defend those of the opposition. Along with the wingers, the centres score plenty of tries throughout a season.

Checkside punt

Conversion

If a team scores a try, they have an opportunity to "convert" it for two further points by kicking the ball between the posts and above the crossbar - that is, through the goal. The kick is taken at any point on the field of play in line with the point that the ball was grounded for the try parallel to the touch-lines. So it is advatageous to score a try nearer to the posts as it is easier to convert it.

The kick can be either a drop kick or a place kick.

Crash ball

It is an attacking tactic where a player receives a pass at pace and runs directly at the opposition's defensive line. The crash ball runner attempts to commit two or more opposing players to the tackle, then attempts to make the ball available to team-mates by off-loading in the tackle or recycling the ball quickly from the ruck.

By committing players to the tackle, the crash ball runner creates holes in the opposition's defense, thereby creating attacking opportunities for team-mates.

Crash tackle

Another name for the crash ball as mentioned above

D

Drop goal

A drop goal is scored when a player kicks the ball from hand through the opposition's goal, but the ball must touch the ground between being dropped and kicked. It is worth one point.

The team awarded a free kick cannot score a dropped goal until the ball next becomes dead, or until an opponent has played or touched it, or has tackled the ball carrier.

Drop kick

A drop kick is when a player kicks the ball from hand and the ball touches the ground between being dropped and kicked. If a drop kick goes through a goal then it results in a drop goal.

Dummy pass

An offensive ruse, where the ball carrier moves as if to pass the ball to a team-mate, but then continues to run with the ball himself; the objective is to trick defenders into marking the would-be pass receiver, creating a gap for the ball carrier to run into.

Dummy runner

Another offensive tactic; a player on the attacking team runs towards the opposition as if running onto a pass, only for the ball to be passed to another player, carried on by the ball carrier or kicked forwards. As with a dummy pass, this tactic draws defenders away from the ball and creates space for the attacking team

Dump tackle

It is a tackling technique. The tackler wraps his arms around the ball carrier's thighs and lifts him a short distance in the air before forcibly driving him to the ground. The tackler must go to ground with the ball carrier for the tackle to be legal. This technique is useful to completely stop the opponent in his tracks. A dump tackle which drops the ball carrier on his head or neck is known as a spear tackle, and will almost invariably concede a penalty and possibly result in a caution for the tackler.

F

Falcon

An instance of the ball coming into contact with a person's head.

Fend or "hand off"

Fending is the action by the ball carrier of repelling a tackler using his arm. For the action to be legal, the ball carrier's arm must be straight before contact is made; a shove or "straight-arm smash", where the arm is extended immediately before contact or on contact, is illegal and classed as dangerous play.

Forward pass

It is called a throw-forward in the laws of the game.

A forward pass occurs when the ball fails to travel backwards in a pass. If the ball is not thrown or passed forward but it bounces forward after hitting a player or the ground, it is not a throw-forward.

If the referee deems it accidental, this results in a scrum to the opposing team, however deliberate forward passes result in the award of a penalty.

Foul play

Fullback

The title of full back (numbered 1) comes from the full back's defensive position where the player drops out of the defensive line to cover the rear from kicks and runners breaking the line. They therefore usually are good ball catchers and clinical tacklers. In attack the full back will typically make runs into the attack or support a runner in anticipation of a pass out of the tackle.

G

Goal

A goal is scored when a player either kicks the ball through the plane bounded by the two uprights and above the crossbar. A conversion or penalty goal count for 2 points and drop goals for one.

Goal line

Two solid, straight white lines (one at each end) stretching across the entire width of the pitch passing directly through the goal posts which defines the boundary between the "field of play" and the "in-goal". As the goal line is defined as part of the "in-goal", attacking players can score tries by placing the ball with downward pressure onto the goal line itself. The base of the goal posts and post protectors are also defined to be part of the goal line.

The goal line is often referred to as the "try line" though that term does not appear in the Laws of the Game.

Golden point

The golden point, a sudden death overtime system, is sometimes used to resolve drawn rugby league matches. If the scores are level at the end of 80 minutes, 5 minutes are played, the teams swap ends with no break, and a further 5 minutes are played. Any score (try, penalty goal, or field goal) in this 10 minute period secures a win for the scoring team, and the game ends at that point.

Goose step

Change in running style from a sprint to high kicking in order to slow down a defender only to sprint once defender has slowed down.

Grapple tackle

A grapple tackle is a controversial tackling technique whereby the tackler attempts to impede the ball carrier by applying a chokehold-like maneuver. Although players can be penalised for its use, it is difficult to enforce.

Grubber kick

It is a type of kick which makes the ball roll and tumble across the ground, producing irregular bounces making it hard for the defending team to pick up the ball without causing a knock-on. It gives the ball both high and low bounce and on occasions, the ball can sit up in a perfect catching position.

H

Haka

The haka is a traditional Māori dance performed by the Kiwis, the international rugby league team of New Zealand, immediately prior to international matches. It serves as a challenge to the opposing team.

Hand-off

Also called fend.

High tackle

A high tackle (or head-high tackle) is a form of tackle where the tackler grasps the ball carrier above the line of the shoulders (most commonly around the neck or at the line of the chin and jaw).

Executed violently or at speed, a high tackle is potentially instantly lethal and, as extremely dangerous play, high tackles are a cause for penalties, and yellow or red cards.

Hit-up

Australasian term for crash ball.

Hooker

The hooker (numbered 9) is most likely to play the role of dummy-half. In defence the hooker usually defends in the middle of the line against the opposition's props and second-rowers. The hooker will be responsible for organising the defence in the middle of the field. In attack as dummy-half this player is responsible for starting the play from every play-the-ball by either passing the ball to the right player, or, at opportune moments, running from dummy-half. It is vital that the hooker can pass very well. Traditionally, hookers 'hooked' the ball in the scrum. Hookers also make probably more tackles than any other player on the field. The hooker is always involved in the play and needs to be very fit. He needs to have a very good knowledge of the game and the players around him.

I

Interchange

K

Kick-off

A coin is tossed and the winning captain either chooses which direction his team shall play, or elects to take the kick that starts the game. Both halves of the match are started with a kick off a tee from the centre-point of the halfway line. The kick must cross the opposition's 10-metre line, unless played by a member of the receiving team. The opposition are not allowed to encroach beyond the 10-metre line until the ball is kicked.

If the ball does not travel 10 metres, goes straight into touch, or goes over the dead ball line at the end of the pitch, the opposing will be given a penlty at the centre.

After a score, the game is restarted from the same place under the same restrictions, with the conceding team drop-kicking the ball to the scoring team.

Knock-on

It is also called knock-forward. A knock-on is when a player loses possession of the ball and goes forward off the hands or arms of a player and hits either the ground or another player. It results in a scrum with the put-in to the opposition.

L

Late tackle

A late tackle is a tackle executed on a player who has already passed or kicked away the ball. As it is illegal to tackle a player who does not have the ball, Late tackles are penalty offences (referees allow a short margin of error where the tackler was already committed to the tackle) and if severe or reckless may result in yellow or red cards.

If a late tackle occurs after a kick and a penalty is awarded, the non-offending team has the option of taking the penalty where the ball landed.

Loose forward

The loose forward (numbered 13) is the only forward in the third (last) row of the scrum. They are usually one of the fittest players on the field, covering the entire field on both attacking and defending duties. Typically they are big ball-runners who can occasionally slot in as a passing link or kick option; it is not uncommon for loose forwards to have the skills of a five eighth and to play a similar role in the team.

M

McIntyre System

The McIntyre System, or systems because there have been five of them, is a play-off system that gives an advantage to teams or competitors qualifying higher.

Minor premiership

In several sports, a minor premiership is the (often unofficial) award given to a team which finishes first overall in the standings after the regular season prior to commencement of the playoffs.

Mulligrubber

The mulligrubber kick is a style of kicking. A mulligrubber is directed towards the ground and forced to bounce. Often used in situations where either the ball needs to be placed in a specific position (i.e. on the try line) or to intentionally stop the opponent from being able to catch the ball on the full.

O

Offload

An offload is when a player holding the ball is tackled, but passes the ball to a teammate before the tackle is completed. (A tackle is not considered complete until one of the following occurs: the arm carrying the ball touches the ground while the player is still held by the tackler; the player's 'forward momentum' stops - in other words, he stops moving forward - while still being held by the tackler; or the referee calls 'held'.) If a player passes the ball legally during a tackle - in other words, if he offloads the ball - it does not count as a tackle in his team's current set of six, and play continues normally.

Offside

A player is offside when he/she is forward of the relevant offside line i.e. between the relevant offside line and the opposing team's dead ball line.

In a match, most players will be offside several times but they only become liable for penalty if they do not act to attempt to become onside (which generally means retreat downfield) or attempt to interfere with play.

In open play, only the ball carrier's team (or the team that last carried or deliberately touched the ball) is bound by offside - the offside line for them is the ball. (Note every player who passes the ball backwards is offside and must attempt to retire).

One on one tackle

One-on-one tackle is a colloquial phrase used to refer to a phase of play in rugby league in which a single defender attempts to tackle the ball carrier.

Onside

A player is onside whenever he or she is behind the relevant offside line for the particular phase of play. Players who are onside take an active part in playing the game.

Previously offside players may be "put onside" by the actions of other players (for example, in a kick ahead in open play, players in the kicker's team in front of the kick are offside but can be put onside by the kicker or any other team member who was onside at the time of the kick running up the pitch past them). So that players can be confident they are now onside and can take an active part in the game, the referee may shout "Onside" or "All Onside".

On the full

If the ball is kicked into touch without first bouncing inside the field of play it is termed as ball is kicked into touch on the full.

Openside

The broad side of the pitch in relation to a scrum or a play-the-ball.

P

Passing

A pass is to transfer a ball to a teammate by throwing it. All passes in rugby must travel backwards. There are different varieties of pass, including the flat, direct spin pass; the short, close-quarters pop pass; and the floated pass - a long pass which an advancing player can run onto at pace.

Penalty

Penalties are awarded for serious infringements like dangerous play, offside and handling the ball on the ground.

Penalty kick

If a side commits a penalty infringement the opposition can take the option of a place kick at goal from where the infringement occurred. This is called a penalty kick. If successful, it is worth two points.

Penalty try

A penalty try awarded if the referee believes a team illegally prevents a probable try from being scored. Penalty tries are always awarded under the posts regardless of where the offence took place.

Place kick

The place kick is a kicking style commonly used when kicking for goal. It typically involves placing the ball on the ground. To keep the ball in position, a mound of sand or plastic tee is sometimes used.

Powerplay

Powerplay refers to the act of running the ball on the fifth tackle instead of kicking it.

Professional foul

A professional foul is a deliberate act of foul play, usually to prevent an opponent scoring.

Prop

The props (numbered 8 and 10) are normally the largest players on field (they typically weigh over 15 stones (100 kg) in the open age/senior game). They are positioned in the centre of the line. The prop is an 'enforcer', dissuading the opposition from attacking the centre of the defensive line and in attack give the team momentum by taking the ball up to the defence aggressively.

Play the ball

R

Round the corner kicking

Round the corner kicking is a style of kicking used for kicking penalties and converting tries.

Ruck

S

Scrum

Scrum-half

The scrum half or 'half back' (numbered 7) is the player who directs the game and is usually one of the smaller players on the pitch. The scrum half, along with the stand off together form the "creative unit" of the team. They will control the attack, deciding with their passes how the team attacks and if, when and where the ball is kicked. This player is also responsible for making sure all the other players are in the right position for an attacking move.

Second row

The second row forwards (numbered 11 and 12) The modern day second row is very similar to a centre and is expected to be faster, more mobile and have more skills than the prop and will play amongst the three-quarters, providing strength in attack and defence when the ball is passed out to the wings. Good second-rowers combine the skills and responsibilities of props and centres in the course of the game.

Sidestep

Sin bin

The notional area where a player must remain for a minimum of ten minutes. In high level games, the sin bin is monitored by the fourth official.

Spear tackle

A spear tackle is a dangerous tackle in which a player is picked up by the tackler and turned so that they are upside down. The tackler then drops or drives the player into the ground often head,neck or shoulder first.

Spear tackles are particularly dangerous and have caused serious injury including spinal damage, dislocations and broken bones in the shoulder or neck. On rare occasion, even death can occur.

Spear tackles are taken very seriously by the various discipline committees and can result in lengthy playing bans.

Stand-off

The stand off or '5/8th' (numbered 6) is often the most skillful player and main tactical kicker in the game (usually this role -'playmaker' - is either the scrum half or stand off depending on the coach's preferences). In interaction between the 'playmaker' positions (scrum half, stand off, loose forward and hooker), the stand off will usually be involved in most passing moves.

State of Origin

Steeden

Steeden is an Australian sports good manufacturer, best known for producing rugby league footballs. Steeden has become so synonymous with rugby league that the word used as noun to describe the ball itself.

Stiff-arm fend

Fending is the action by the ball carrier of repelling a tackler using his arm. For the action to be legal, the ball carrier's arm must be straight before contact is made; a shove or "straight-arm smash", where the arm is extended immediately before contact or on contact, is illegal and classed as dangerous play.

T

Tackle

A tackle takes place when one or more opposition players [tackler(s)] grasp onto the ball carrier and succeed in bringing him/her to ground and holding him there.

Once briefly held, the tackler(s) must release the tackled player who must then him/herself immediately release or attempt to pass the ball so that play can continue.

Tap kick

A tap kick is a type of kick used by players at penalties or free kicks to meet the regulation that requires the ball must be kicked a visible distance before a player may pass or run with it.

In a tap kick, the player momentarily releases the ball from his hands and taps it with his foot or lower leg and then quickly catches it again. The player will then generally try to run forward with the ball.

Tap-tackle

Despite its name, a tap tackle is a not actually a tackle as the ball carrier is brought to ground by a form of trip, is not actually held on the ground and may attempt to get up and continue to run. A tap tackle is used when a defending player is unable to get close enough to the ball carrier but is able to dive at the other player's feet and, with outstretched arm, deliver a tap or hook to the player's foot (or feet) causing the player to stumble. At speed, this will often be sufficient to bring the ball-carrier down, allowing a team-mate of the tackling player to retrieve the ball or provide sufficient delay for the defending team to organise a defence.

Test match

International rugby league matches with full (Test) status are called Test matches.

Touch

Touch is the area outside two touch-lines which define the sides of the playing area. As the touch-lines are not part of the playing area they are usually included as part of touch.

Touch judge

The touch judge is an official who monitors the touch-line and raises a flag if the ball (or player carrying it) goes into touch. Touch judges also stand behind the posts to confirm that a goal has been scored following a penalty kick or conversion of a try.

Try

It is the primary method of scoring. A try is worth four points. It is scored when a player places the ball on the ground with downward pressure in the in-goal area between (and including) the goal-line and up to but not including dead ball line of the opposition's half. (As the goal posts and post protectors are also part of the goal-line, touching the ball down against the base of these is also a try.)

There is no such thing as an "own try".

U

Up and under

An up and under or a bomb, is a high short punt onto or behind the defending team.

W

Wing

The wings or 'wing three quarters' (numbered 2 and 5) are normally the fastest players in a team and play on the far left and right fringes of the field (the wings). Their main task is to receive passes and score tries. The wingers also drop back on the last tackle to cover the left and right sides of the field for kicks while the full back covers the middle.

 

 

0-9 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z






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Published - January 2009


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