Rugby has been played in Canada since the 1860's, introduced by British immigrants and soldiers. Like football, rugby is played on a field that is 110 yards long with goal posts at each end. Two teams of 15 players play a game lasting 80 minutes. A team advances the ball toward the opponent's goal line by passing it laterally from player to player, without forward or overhanded passes. The object is to kick goals between the opponent's goal posts and to score "tries", similar to a football "touchdown", when a player grounds the ball in the opposition's end zone. A try counts for 5 points and may be converted into a "goal" by a successful place kick made from any spot straight out from the goal line where the try was scored. A converted goal counts for 7 points. A goal scored through a penalty kick is worth 3 points.
As with football, tackling is an important way to get the ball from the opposing team. A tackler should try to grab the ball carrier around the arms so they can't pass the ball. When the ball carrier is stopped a "scrum" takes place, which looks like a big huddle. Eight players from each team are interlocked in a bent-over position and the ball is pushed in from the side of the scrum, to be retrieved from the other end by the remaining players on the field.
There are now about 14 thousand rugby player in Canada.
Rugby is a brutal game, but competitors wear absolutely no padded equipment. The uniforms consist of a collared long-sleeved cotton shirt, cotton shorts and knee-length woolen socks. Rugby players wear cleats that are similar to soccer shoes, with studs of rubber, plastic or aluminum. The shoes socks, and shorts cost about $100. If you play competitive rugby, the uniform is supplied by the team as part of your league fees.
This rugged sport is played with a rugby football. The ball can be bought in sizes but the regulation size is 280-290mm in length and 380-430 grams in weight.
The BC Rugby Union handles league play all over the province. There are the normal regional divisions, as well as leagues for women and Over-40. If you're interested in joining a rugby league call the BC Rugby Union at (604) 737-3065, or call their 24 hour Hotline at (604) 737-3016.