An intro to rugby

Rugby is not only New Zealand's national sport, but it's also rooted deep within kiwi culture. If you want to see real rugby, look no further.

Rugby is New Zealand’s national sport and has deep roots in kiwi culture and heritage.  A country built with a strong backbone, it’s not surprising that their national team is one of the toughest and most feared in the Rugby world.  New Zealand rugby players are hard-hitting, skillful sportsmen.  The All Blacks captain Richie McCaw credits the grit of the early men of New Zealand rugby with inspiring the passion and pride of today’s players.

Here are some of the rugby basics, to give you a leg up when watching a game in the pub.


Rugby is a rough and tumble game consisting of 15 players per team.  The main objective is to obtain possession of the ball and score as many points as possible by carrying, passing, kicking and grounding the ball. 

Teams are made up of both forwards and backs.  Forwards are numbered from 1 to 8, and are usually built bigger than backs.  A forward’s main purpose is to use their bulk and move the team up the field and gain possession of the ball in scrums and lineouts.  Backs are numbered 9 to 15, and are faster and leaner than the forwards.  They’re concerned with moving the team up the field by passing and kicking.

Scoring Points

Try (5 points):  Grounding the ball over the try line.
Conversion (2 points): Kicking the goal over the goal posts if a try has been scored.
Field Goal (3 points): A drop kick over the goal posts when in the field of play.
Penalty (3 points): Kicking the ball over the goal posts when a penalty has been awarded following an infringement.

The Game

The start consists of kicking the ball from the halfway line.  The team in possession of the ball advances towards the try line by running forward and passing the ball from one another.  The ball MUST be passed laterally or behind - NEVER forward.  The opposing team tries to prevent them from moving the ball down the field and scoring a try.

The opposing team is allowed to tackle the ball-carrier.  The ball-carrier must then pass or release the ball allowing both teams to try to gain possession.  If the ball goes out of play, there will be a lineout to restart the game.  If there is an infringement or penalty, the game will be restarted with a scrum, free kick or penalty kick depending on the severity.

When you’re in Auckland, make sure you take in a match.  There are a handful of wonderful places to spectate from.  Below is a list of the best places to watch rugby in and around Auckland:

Kingsland:  Located next to Eden Park, this is the hub of rugby watching.  The Kingslander is a traditional venue for watching all sports, a huge venue with large screens makes it the perfect place to have a brew and watch some rugby.  You’ll also find great viewing at The Neighbourhood and Citizen Park. 

• Viaduct:  The Viaduct is the new hub of rugby watching.  Here you’ll find many bars are fired up with amazing deals, bargains, and plenty of spots to view rugby matches.  Stop by The Fox or the Skysport Grill, both venues are excellent for spectating.

• North Shore:  Check out the strip in Takapuna, or the Backyard on Northcote Road.  Here you’ll find yourself among the friendly folk of the North Shore.  If you’re looking for a good crowd, head over to Westfield Albany for a grand selection of bars, even family friendly bars such as The Postman’s Leg.

• South Auckland: Whether you’re headed over to the Botany Town Centre or traveling along to Manukau City, the bars will have throngs of rugby supporters.

• West Auckland: Like the rest of Auckland, rugby and plenty of rugby supporters are found in abundance.  Walk into a pub, grab a brew and have some good fun chatting it up with a local rugby fanatic.

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