Rugby in their own words


BYU boasts a national champion rugby team, but the sport isn’t native to Utah, or even America.

The ball is like a football, but not quite. The players run toward goals like soccer players do, but they’re holding the ball. It’s a simple game, but different from traditional American sports.

The BYU rugby team prepares for a throw-in last season. Photo by Elliott Miller
The BYU rugby team prepares for a throw-in last season. Photo by Elliott Miller

A rugby match begins with two teams of 15 players. The purpose is fairly universal: use the ball to score more points than the other team. It starts with the kick off, the team chosen by the flip of a coin and a drop kick or place kick from the middle of the halfway line. The ball must travel at least 10 meters from the kick off; otherwise the opposing team gets to throw it in.

You can run with the ball, kick the ball, or pass the ball backward. Rugby is a contact sport — tackling is allowed.

To score points there are three options:

1. A try: five points for touching the ball to the ground in the opponent’s goal.

2. A conversion: two points for kicking the ball through the goal posts after a try.

3. A goal kick: three points for penalty kicks or drop kicks through the posts.

There are two periods of 40 minutes, and halfway through each half, the teams switch directions. Every time there is a goal scored, they restart with a drop kick from the halfway line.

Here’s how the BYU players explain their sport:

“Rugby is like playing football with no pads, while also playing hockey on grass,” Josh Nilsen said.

“Rugby is playing a real sport with real men,” Kyle Lontine said.

“We lift people up for throw-ins, so I guess it’s kind of like cheerleading,” Dan Hubert said.

“It’s like backwards football and an 80-minute-long tackling drill,” Terrance Motley said.

There it is — rugby simplified. With the season already underway, BYU plays its first home game on March 1 against the Glendale Raptors. All home games are played at BYU’s South Field. More information regarding the team can be found at




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