Rules of Hybrid Rugby

The game combines the ‘rules of Rugby League’ and the ‘laws of Rugby Union’, with the addition of a number of unique ‘Hybrid Rugby rules’, to enable a Rugby Union side to play a Rugby League side.

The field position of the team in possession determines the mode of play.

When the team in possession is in their own half of the field, the game is played in accordance with the rules of Rugby League (‘Play the Ball’). When the team in possession is in the opposition’s half of the field, attacking the line, the game is played in accordance with the laws of Rugby Union (‘Ruck and Maul’).

The unique Hybrid Rugby rules listed below are applied in conjunction with the rules of League and laws of Union, hence an understanding of these codes is required

  • Thirteen (13) players are allowed on the field, six (6) forwards and seven (7) backs, with an additional seven (7) reserves.
  • A try is worth five (5) points; conversions and penalty goals are worth two (2) points; a field-goal is worth one (1) point.
  • A shot clock is used to restrict the attacking side to sixty (60) seconds of possession in each half of the field (no tackle counts are used).
  • The team in possession has sixty (60) seconds to cross halfway, at which point the Referees call the change of play to ‘Ruck and Maul’ rules and simultaneously, the shot clock resets. If the side in possession is driven back, or the ball is passed back across the halfway line, the shot clock and ‘Ruck and Maul’ rules continue until there is a change in possession, a break down, or an infringement.
  • Teams in attack are required to score or kick during this time otherwise a turnover and a penalty against the side caught in possession occurs. NB The player in possession at the end of the 60 seconds is the only player permitted to score in this phase.
  • The shot clock is reset for all penalties and restarts.
  • Upon recommencement of play, the rules are determined by the field position of the now attacking side.
  • Defending players are required to stand no closer than five (5) metres from the line of the ball after the completion of a tackle, excluding players involved in the tackle. This rule applies to both ‘Play the Ball’ and ‘Ruck and Maul’.
  • Under the ‘Ruck and Maul’ rule whereby a team has gained possession from an infringement (Advantage Rule), the advantage is deemed to have been exhausted after two phases of play.
  • The team of a player who kicks the ball from within his own (defending) half, into touch within twenty (20) metres from his opponents try-line, is awarded a scrum with their ball, in line with the point at which the ball crossed the touch line. The ball must first bounce in the field of play before entering touch.
  • Six (6) players (three in the front row, two in the second row and one lock) are to contest scrums, with the attacking side having the loose head and feed. The ‘touch – pause – engage’ system applies, with the ball to be fed into the centre of the scrum.
  • All starts and restarts of play require a place kick and must travel at least 10m in a forward direction.  The ball must not be kicked out on the full.  If this occurs, a penalty results from where the ball was kicked and the game is restarted under ‘Ruck and Maul’ rules.
  • Substitutions are allowed at any time, however a player cannot return to the field during the half in which he has been substituted.
  • Penalty kicks at goal are not included in the 60-second time frame.
  • Two (2) referees, one from each code, will umpire Hybrid matches.


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