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Rugby Laws Explained: Law 15 “The Ruck”

Rugby Laws Explained: Law 15 “The Ruck”

The IRFU’s High Performance Referees Rugby Laws Explained series continues with George Clancy shining the spotlight on Law 15 “The Ruck”

The purpose of a ruck is to allow players to compete for the ball which is on the ground.  A ruck can take place only in the field of play.  A ruck is formed when at least one player from each team are in contact, on their feet and over the ball which is on the ground.  Players involved in all stages of the ruck must have their heads and shoulders no lower than their hips.

The sections and sanctions associated with Law 15 that are explored this week are:

Law 15.4: 

Each team has an offside line that runs parallel to the goal line through the hindmost point of any ruck participant. If that point is on or behind the goal line, the offside line for that team is the goal line.

Law 15.6:

A player may join alongside but not in front of the hindmost player.


Law 15.11.:

Once a ruck has formed, no player may handle the ball unless they were able to get their hands on the ball before the ruck formed and stay on their feet.

SANCTION:  Penalty

Law 15.15:

Players on the ground must attempt to move away from the ball and must not play the ball in the ruck or as it emerges.

SANCTION:  Penalty

Law 15.17:

When the ball has been clearly won by a team at the ruck, and is available to be played, the referee calls “use it”, after which the ball must be played away from the ruck within five seconds.

SANCTION:  Scrum to opposition team