Rugby is a sport primarily played in Europe and Australia, but it has a passionate following across the world.
As a precursor to American football, rugby and football share many similarities.
Considering how similar they are, you may wonder if a rugby game lasts as long as an American football game.
Here’s what you need to know about rugby and how long it lasts.
How Long Is A Rugby Game?
A Rugby Union match, or 15s, has a game time of 80 minutes.
It has two halves which last 40 minutes each.
There’s also a 15-minute halftime period between each half to give the players a break.
Altogether, with the half and some injuries, the standard time for a rugby match is 120 minutes.
For televised rugby matches, it may last even longer if commercials are aired during the game.
The other main type of rugby is rugby sevens matches.
Each half in this type of match lasts only seven minutes.
That makes a total game time of 14 minutes.
There is also a two-minute halftime period between the two halves.
Calculating that with some injuries, most rugby sevens matches last only 20 minutes.
With commercials, it might last for a half-hour or 45 minutes.
The shorter matches typically mean that rugby teams will play several matches on the same day.
Compared to American football and other American sports, rugby games are a lot faster.
What Stops Rugby Games?
While rugby matches have a reputation for being tough and using the toughest players, there are a few things that can stop a match.
Any time the match stops, it makes the game last a bit longer.
Here are some examples of things that can stop rugby matches and extend the game’s length.
One of the biggest reasons behind stopping the game is halftime.
Rugby has a 15 or two-minute halftime depending on the type of match played.
For union matches, the players usually return to the locker rooms to relax and go over new strategies.
Unlike American football, there aren’t any expensive halftime shows that occur during rugby.
The match might have some type of performance to entertain fans while the players rest, but the sport hasn’t adopted the Super Bowl-level of entertainment quite yet.
That said, ads still run during halftime and fans have to wait for them to end for the players to return and resume the game.
Those watching sevens matches only have to wait a short time.
It’s basically enough time for the players to quickly return to their benches, drink some water, and then get back on the field.
There may be a few ads that run during this time.
Halftime is the primary reason that the game stops and extends its length.
Rugby is an incredibly physical sport.
Injuries are common and expected.
Whenever an injury occurs on the field, the game stops.
It allows the medics to get to the player and take care of them.
Depending on the severity of the injury, it may take the medics a bit of time to take care of the player.
For example, if they’re unable to move under their own power, then they may need to call for a stretcher.
Then they need to carefully put the player on the stretcher and take them to the locker room.
For less serious injuries, the medics need to ensure that they’re okay to continue playing.
One of the biggest concerns is concussions.
The good news is that the medics check for a concussion off of the field.
The problem with injuries is that they tend to occur often in every game.
This can slow down the game and add more time to its total length.
The more injuries that occur, the longer the game is going to last.
3. Player Substitutions
Another thing that stops the clock is player substitutions.
Player substitution is when a player off the side replaces a player on the field.
Not every sport pauses the game clock when a substitution occurs, but in rugby, it does.
The officials pause the clock until both players are in a new position.
In particular, they wait for the player leaving the field to get completely off of the field before starting the game again.
Player substitutions are important in rugby.
For 15s matches, the players are on the field for a long time without any breaks.
To ensure the team can use its best players throughout the match, they have to sit out now and then.
Because of how rough the game can be at times, it’s safe for the game to temporarily pause while player substitutions occur.
This also allows the team to move forward with their play where they might not have been able to do so before since they were down a player.
Depending on how many player substitutions occur in the game, it might extend the length of the game further.
4. New Balls
Like American football, there are moments when the rugby ball will leave the field and end up in the audience.
Whether it’s thrown, kicked, or through some other means, the ball can leave the field.
Like other games, if the ball ends up in the stands, then it’s out of play.
At this point, the game clock stops, and a referee brings a new ball to the field.
While it’s not every match that a ball ends up in the stands, if it does happen, then this can add a bit of the time to the game.
The clock doesn’t resume until the new ball is on the field and put in play.
5. The Game Doesn’t End When The Clock Hits Zero
The first time you watch a rugby game, it may surprise you when the game doesn’t end when the clock hits zero.
In rugby, they call it the 40-minute mark and the 80-minute mark.
In other games, when a sport reaches the halftime mark or the end of the game, all play ends when the clock hits zero.
In rugby, the game doesn’t end until the ball becomes dead.
This usually means when a play completes or when a team scores a point.
Because rugby’s ball doesn’t become dead that easily or soon, the final minute mark of the half and at the end of the game can last for quite some time.
It isn’t just 15s that have this rule either.
The 7- and 14-minute marks in sevens matches also don’t stop when the game clock hits zero.
It continues until the ball is dead.
Depending on how long it takes for the ball to become dead, it may make the game last a few minutes more.
6. Overtime Or Extra Time
When players tie at the end of the game, most sports go into overtime to determine a clear winner.
Each sport has different rules to determine the outcome of the game.
In rugby, they call it extra time and it occurs when the two teams tie.
Extra time adds 20 minutes to the game clock.
Within those 20 minutes, each time gets 10 minutes to score points.
If both teams are still tied by the end of the 20 minutes, then they enter a shootout.
In this instance, the game ends when the first team scores a point.
That team is also the winner.
Clearly, if the game has to enter extra time, then it can add a good amount of time to the overall game.
7. Weather Conditions
A final reason that might extend the game is weather conditions.
Like other sports, if lightning strikes, the game clock stops.
The players leave the field and the fans can either take shelter in the concession area or their cars.
That said, few weather conditions actually stop a game of rugby.
Rugby games are regularly played on hot, sunny days and during hail storms.
Snow doesn’t stop rugby games either.
Only when lightning is present is the game paused.
The game doesn’t continue until the danger of lightning has passed.
Depending on how severe the game is, it may take some time for the game to resume.
That can also make the game last longer.
What Is Rugby?
Rugby got its start in the early 19th century.
It features two teams of 15 players in a contact-heavy sport.
The rugby ball is oval-shaped and looks rather similar to an American football.
World Rugby is the governing body that organizes the World Cup for rugby.
The World Cup occurs every four years.
Although it began primarily in Europe, it has grown in popularity in several other countries.
World Rugby divides the different organizations into six different regions.
Those six regions include:
- Americas North
- South America
Like all other sports, the goal of rugby is to score points.
The team with the most points wins.
Unlike many other sports, rugby has several different ways to score points.
Each different method affords different point values.
There are only two halves in rugby like in many other sports.
Some players wear helmets and mouthguards, but others prefer to simply wear jerseys, cleats, and other rugby equipment.
When Did Rugby Begin?
Rugby has its origins in soccer.
It began with a soccer player named William Webb who decided to change the rules of soccer.
He picked up the ball, which is against soccer’s rules, and ran to the goal with it, scoring a point.
The idea of a new sport began.
Cambridge organized the first team in 1839.
They made what became known as the Cambridge Rules.
In 1871, the Rugby Football Union was formed in a London pub.
The game had popularity in England, Wales, and Scotland and in 1882, the first international championship was formed.
The championship involved England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales.
It wasn’t until Australia and New Zealand hosted their first World Cup in 1987 that the sport finally started to explode in popularity.
What Kind Of Ball Do Players Use In Rugby?
American football fans will find a familiar ball used in rugby.
However, the two balls are quite different.
They both have the same shape, but the rugby ball is a bit bigger.
It’s also made of leather, but it’s also water-resistant to make it easier to grip in the rain.
There are different sizes of balls used, as well, depending on the age and match.
A size three ball is for young players aged seven to nine.
For young players, this is the first rugby ball that they use.
A size four ball is for those who are between 10 and 14.
There are also two different-sized balls for adults.
Women players use size four and a half.
The size four and a half ball is also for players 15 and older.
Men players use size five.
How Do You Score Points In Rugby?
Rugby players can do three things with the ball.
They’re able to run the ball forward, kick the ball, and also pass the ball.
However, unlike American football, rugby players can only pass the ball backward.
The opposing players can tackle the player who has possession of the ball.
In tackling them, they’re able to gain possession of the ball.
Because players can possess and move the ball in different ways, there are also different ways to score points.
One of the ways that you can score points in rugby is through a try.
A try is when you cross the goal line while in possession of the ball.
This is similar to a touchdown in American football.
The player carries the ball across the goal line.
A try earns the team five points.
Another way to score points is with a conversion.
A conversion occurs when a player performs a try by kicking the ball through the goalposts.
This is similar to American football when a field goal occurs.
A player earns two points with a successful conversion.
When a player performs a successful goal kick outside of a conversion, then they earn three points.
A drop goal or a penalty kick count for this type of scoring.
Once the score occurs, the team kicks the ball off to the opposing team.
What Do Rugby Jerseys Mean?
In many sports, a player’s jersey is significant.
In rugby, jerseys play a more practical role.
They indicate the player’s position on the team.
Since teams have 15 players on the field, any jerseys that are above the number 15 indicate that those players are substitutes.
Players with the jerseys that have a number one through eight on them indicate that they are forwards.
Like in other sports, forwards tend to be some of the strongest players.
It’s their job to get possession of the ball.
This usually means that they tackle their opponents to help gain possession of the ball.
Rugby forwards are similar to linebackers in American football.
Those who have a jersey numbered nine through 15 are backs.
These are the slimmer players who are fast and more agile.
They’re the ones who pick up the ball after the forwards have tackled the opponent.
After taking advantage, they either run or pass the ball as fast as they can to the goal line.
Rugby backs are similar to wide receivers and running backs in American football.
New viewers can easily tell who plays which position in a rugby match by looking at their jersey numbers.
What Are Some Of The Important Terms In Rugby?
If you’re new to rugby, then it can be helpful to know some of the terms that officials and sportscasters use in a match.
Here are some of the most common terms used in rugby.
One of the most common occurrences on the field is a maul.
This happens when a player holding the ball is being held by one or more opposing players.
However, the ball carrier’s teammates are also helping push the carrier forward.
This is usually a contest of strength between the two sides with the ball carrier’s team trying to push them forward while the opposing side tries to stop their progress or tackle the ball out.
When you see a big tangle of players, you’re seeing a maul.
When the ball is on the ground, you may wonder why no one is picking it up.
That’s because a ruck is occurring.
This is when the ball is on the ground and at least one player from each time is next to it.
The players have to be on their feet while around it.
They’re not able to pick the ball up.
Instead, they have to kick the ball to the back of a team player’s foot.
3. Sin Bin
One of the most fun terms in rugby, although not fun when it happens to a player, is the sin bin.
Whenever a player does a dangerous play that puts other players in danger or causes intentional damage, they’re placed in the sin bin.
It’s basically a penalty box.
They sit in the box for 10 minutes for 15s matches and two minutes for sevens matches.
Rugby is a shorter game than most American sports since it only lasts for about an hour and a half.
There are a few instances that can make the game last a bit longer.
For new viewers and fans of rugby, it’s helpful to know the length of the game, the terms, and what the jersey numbers represent to understand what’s going on.