Rugby Explained: Line-outs




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Rugby is an extremely exciting, high-impact and fast-paced sport. Highly enjoyable to watch, for those who are new to the sport, the rules can seem somewhat complex and hard to follow.

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the main principles and rules related to the rugby line-out. In turn, you can broaden your rugby trivia knowledge and follow along with the strategies and techniques related to the line-out as they unfold on the pitch.

Rugby Line-Out Basics

The simplest explanation of a line-out is that it is a way to restart the game after the ball has gone out of play. This can be deliberate or accidental, but most of the time you’ll see it happen with a kick “into touch” like this:

Kick for touch in rugby

Where Is a Line-out Taken From?

The point on the touchline that the line-out gets taken from, depends on how the ball left the pitch.

If the ball was kicked out and didn’t bounce on the field of play, the line-out will be taken from the point on the touchline, in line with where it was kicked. With three exceptions:

In these situations, the line-out will go from where the ball crossed the line.

If the ball did touch the pitch before leaving the field of play, the line-out is also taken from the point it passed the touch-line. The only exception is if the ball passes a touchline within 5 metres of the try-line, whereby the line-out is taken from the 5-metre line.

Who is In a Line-out?

rugby lineout formation

A line-out involves up to 8 players from each team. It can be as few as 2 players but it’s normally 7 or 8. The 8 players include the person throwing the ball in (usually the hooker).

Traditionally in this group of 8, you have locks for jumping and props for lifting, but it’s not a rule. 

Players not involved in the line-out stay a minimum of 10 metres away. Once the ball is back in play again, they are able to move closer and get involved in the action.

How Does a Line-out Work?

The team that gets to throw in is the side that did not make the ball go out of play. So kicking the ball out might be a good tactic to stop it from getting to your try-line, but it only really proves advantageous in an attacking sense, if you are confident of winning a large percentage of line-outs.

Whoever takes the line-out throw, has to throw the ball straight down the middle between the two lines of players. If they don’t, the referee will award a scrum to the opposing team.

To legally catch the ball the players have the added difficulty of not being able to use the other team for support or knock the ball with the outer side of their arm. Basically, you can’t punch the ball or flail at it in a potentially dangerous manner. 

rugby lineout

Hopefully, after reading this blog post, you’ll have a much better understanding of the rugby line-out than you did previously. If you want to learn more about rugby rules & tactics, we also have a comprehensive blog post about rugby scrums and rugby point scoring

 By: Andrew Griffiths

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