Get into rugby… Rugby Union!

Aussies (Australians) are known to enjoy a range of sporting events, especially when the national team is competing, and I am no different. I am interested in watching anything from cricket, tennis or swimming to hockey, soccer or rugby union and it is this final sport that I am going to talk about in this post.

Get into Rugby!

I got into (see Glossary below) rugby union during the 1991 Rugby World Cup when the Wallabies scored after the full time siren to beat Ireland in the quarter final. It was one of the most memorable games I have ever seen and I only caught the last five minutes of it! The Wallabies went on to win the tournament that year and I have been a fan ever since.

Are you familiar with the sport rugby union? It is becoming increasingly popular in Japan, but is generally unknown in South Korea. In Australia, rugby union is one of the four football codes that people support. The other ones being rugby league, Aussie Rules (Australian Rules) and soccer. Although they may look similar, rugby union and rugby league are not the same game. Rugby league is the most popular football code in Queensland and is often referred to as ‘league’. Rugby union, on the other hand, is usually shortened to rugby. Be careful not to get the two mixed up.

Two teams play against each other in a rugby union game or match. Each team has fifteen players on the field and up to eight replacement players (or reserves) on the bench. The aim is to score more points than the other team through tries (five points) and conversions (two points) as well as penalty kicks (three points) and field goals (three points). There is a lot of other rugby jargon which I will not be covering in this post, but here is an article on the BBC website that outlines the basics. One very important rule in rugby, though, is that you cannot throw the ball forward!

The goalposts.

Rugby union is said to have been invented in 1823 when an English football (i.e. soccer) player, William Webb Ellis, decided to pick the football up and run with it. That is why the trophy that is awarded to the winning team at the Rugby World Cup (RWC) is called the ‘Webb Ellis Cup’.

A rugby ball is not round. It is oval-shaped, which makes it easier for passing; and is made of leather or suitable synthetic material. It must weigh at least 410 grams, but no more than 460 grams. It is a similar length to an American football, but is wider around the middle and is more rounded at the ends.

Teeing up the ball before a kick.

The RWC is held every four years and has been going for over thirty years (the inaugural RWC was in 1987). Sixteen teams, which included Japan (the Cherry Blossoms, also known as the Brave Blossoms), competed in the first RWC and this has now grown to twenty. Only four countries have won the tournament so far: New Zealand (the All Blacks); Australia (the Wallabies); South Africa (the Springboks); and England (the only northern hemisphere team to have won).

In the tournament, the twenty teams are organised into four pools (A, B, C and D) with five teams in each pool. Click here to find out which pool your team is in. Each team plays the other teams in their pool, then the top two teams in each pool move on to the quarter-finals. In the quarter-finals, the winner of Pool A plays the runner-up of Pool B, the winner of Pool B plays the runner-up of Pool A and so on. After the two semifinals, there is the Bronze Final where the two losers of the semifinals play each other and, finally, the Final where the two winners of the semifinals play each other in order to become the Rugby World Cup Champions.

Try! Scoring a try next to the goalposts.

RWC 2019 starts on Friday, 20th September and is being hosted by Japan. This is significant as it is the first time the event will be held in an Asian country. It is quite a long competition as the final is not until 2nd November. People in Japan may notice an increased number of foreign tourists asking for directions at this time. What a great opportunity to put those English skills to good use!

Which team will you be cheering for? Who are the favourites? Who are the underdogs? Is there a possibility of a big upset? Start following the tournament from 20th September to find out.

To celebrate the Rugby World Cup 2019 S. and L. English Lessons is offering 20% off any Private Lesson Price Plan purchased during the tournament. Get in contact with Cathy to arrange your free trial lesson and make sure you quote ‘RWC2019’. This offer cannot be used with any other offer and is valid from 20th September to 2nd November 2019.


get into somethingphrasal verb with get to become interested in an activity or subject or start being involved in an activity^

Wallabies – the Australian national rugby union team

tournament – a competition for teams or single players in which a series of games is played, and the winners of each game play against each other until only one winner is left^

unknown – not known or familiar^

match – a sports competition or event in which two people or teams compete against each other^

on the field – this refers to the players who are currently playing in the game

reserve(s) – an extra player who is ready to play if needed^

on the bench – this refers to the players (the reserves) who are not currently playing in the game, but who are sitting on the sideline waiting to go on the field to replace players who are injured, etc.

try [plural tries] – (in the game of rugby) the act of the player putting the ball on the ground behind the opposing team’s goal line, which scores points for the player’s team^

conversion(s) – an attempt to score more points after a try by kicking the ball over the crossbar and between the two goalposts

penalty kick(s) – an attempt to score points, when the opposing team or player has broken a rule, by kicking the ball over the crossbar and between the two goalposts

field goal(s) – an attempt to score points during open play (i.e. the referee hasn’t blown their whistle to pause the game) by kicking the ball over the crossbar and between the two goalposts

jargon – special words and phrases that are used by particular groups of people, especially in their work^

basics – the simplest and most important facts, ideas or things connected with something^

invent(ed) – to design and/or create something that has never been made before^

passing – throwing the ball to a person on your team

inaugural – the first in a series of planned events

northern hemisphere – the top half of the Earth

runner-up – a person or team that finishes second in a race or competition^

significant – important or noticeable^

favourites – the team that most people think is the strongest and most likely to win the tournament

underdogs – the team that most people think is the weakest and the least likely to win the tournament

upset – (in sports) a surprising victory by a person or team that was expected to lose

^ These definitions are from the Cambridge Dictionary.