Rugby Explained: Points & Scoring




Privacy Policy


Rugby Union is an exciting and dynamic sport. Whether it be the Six Nations, autumn internationals or the Rugby World Cup, major matches attract a worldwide audience of enthusiastic and excited fans.

Rugby is a great sport to watch, even if you don’t understand the scoring system and all of the rules. With high-impact tackles, dynamic runs and skilful kicking and passing, even the most casual fan can enjoy watching.

However, with a more thorough understanding of the rugby point scoring system, it’s easier to follow the action, the decision-making and the strategies that managers put in place to edge out a victory or to avoid defeat.

There are four main ways of scoring in rugby – a try, a conversion, a penalty and a drop goal.


Try – 5 Points

A try scores the most points in rugby and is the most common way teams attempt to score. In order to successfully score a try, a player must put the ball on the ground, in the opposition’s “in-goal-area” between the try line and the dead ball line.

World Rugby state that:

“A try is scored when the ball is grounded over the opponents’ goal-line in the in-goal area.”

Quote Source


A try can be scored in two distinctive ways:

1. A try is scored  when a player touches the ball on the ground, whilst he or she is holding it in his/her arms or hand(s)

2. If a ball is loose in the in-goal-area, downward pressure must be applied by an attacking player with his or her hand(s), arm(s) or upper body (waist to neck).

It’s not possible to score an “own try” in rugby. If a defending player is the first to touch the ball down within their in-goal-area, a goal-line drop out occurs.

Rugby gameplay is generally centred around scoring tries, as teams attempt to manoeuvre their way up the pitch towards the opposition’s try line, in an attempt to score 5 points.

An additional 2 points can be scored immediately after a try, if the attacking team successfully kicks a “conversion”.

Rugby try scored by Wales

Conversion – 2 Points

Once a try has been scored, the attacking team has the chance to score an additional 2 points, with a conversion. The conversion kick is taken from a point in line with where the try was scored. 

Players will attempt to score a try in between the rugby posts, or as close to the centre of the in-goal-area as possible, to make it easier to successfully kick a conversion. Whilst the kicker can choose how close or far they want to be from the try-line; it’s much easier to convert a try that is scored in the centre of the pitch, than one that is scored right in the corner. 

To score 2 points and “convert the try” the ball must go over the crossbar between the rugby post uprights.

The kicker has 1 minute from the moment they set up their ball, to make the kick or it’s disallowed. 

If a team is given a penalty try in rugby union, the attacking team is awarded 7 points without the need to kick a conversion. A penalty try is awarded when a try is prevented by foul play. 

Penalty Kick – 3 Points

A penalty is awarded to a team, when an opposing player commits a deliberate infringement of the rules. The only exception to this, is when the opposing team can gain an advantage from the play continuing. For example, if a player is about to score a try despite a late tackle on a teammate, the referee will let the game continue. 

Not all penalties in rugby union are kicked directly towards the goalposts. A penalty can be taken as a kick into touch to move the play nearer to the opponent’s try line; a player can tap the ball with their foot and then run it down the pitch; or the penalty taker can try and kick the ball between the upright posts to gain 3 points if they are within range to do so.

When taken as a kick towards the goal posts, a penalty looks similar to a conversion, except that it’s taken from the place where the infringement took place. The ball must travel over the crossbar and between the upright posts. 

Drop Goal – 3 Points

A drop goal is scored when in open play, a player drop-kicks the ball between the opposition’s upright goal posts. To score a drop goal, the attacking player must drop the ball from their hands and kick it as soon as it touches the ground. 

Drop-kicks require a high level of skill and for this reason, it is usually only 1 or 2 players per team that regularly attempt to score with a drop-kick.

Players from the opposing team will usually charge towards the player attempting a drop-goal to block it with their hands or to put pressure on the player so that he or she fails to kick accurately. 

 By: Andrew Griffiths

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Return To Home