The rugby field (pitch) step by step. Pictures, details and explanations. Look and understand. Get the complete picture and be confident you will remember.
Main features of a rugby field
Colours highlight features
Red - dashed line, distance from touch line to the front of a lineout.
Orange - between dashed lines, maximum length of lineout
Purple - dashed line, minimum distance for kick-off/restart kicks
Black - dashed line, distance from goal-line of 5-metre scrums
Grey - from goal-line to 22-metre line is the 22-metre area
Blue - goal-line to dead-ball line, in-goal area where tries are scored
For more details continue to "Ground area", then "Next step"
or just select a topic...or simply scroll down!
View this short (3 minutes) video for a brief introduction to the layout, dimensions and some related rules.
Ground area of
"Rugby ground" is the area of land where the rugby field/pitch is laid out.
It should be grass but other surfaces which are not hard are allowed.
Rugby grounds include the field and the area closely surrounding it.
There's a touch-line along each side and a dead-ball line at each end of a rugby field.
These are important lines.
If the ball or a player carrying the ball touches any of these lines (or anything or anyone outside these lines) the ball is out of play.
The game stops and must be re-started.
The halfway line divides the field into two equal halves.
Two teams play. Each team defends one half and attacks the other.
At half time the teams swap ends.
Deep in your own half is where you may be catching the high ball delivered by the opposition using the "up-and-under" kick.
Goal-lines, one at each end
There is a goal-line for each half of a rugbyfield.
At the centre of each goal-line is a set of goal posts.
You score "tries" when you touch the ball on the ground in the in-goal area of the other team.
Their in-goal area
The touch-line behind the goal-line is called the touch-in-goal line
Sometimes you send the ball through the defence into the in-goal area with a rolling grubber kick and touch it down to score a try.
The field of play is the part of the field with the touch-lines along the sides and goal lines across the ends.
22 Metre line, one for each end
Lines 22 metres out from the goal-lines in each half show the "22 areas". "22 areas" are made up of
Sometimes the game restarts with a drop kick from within the 22 area. It must simply cross the 22-metre line.
This line can also be important when "kicking for touch".
The ball may be kicked "into touch" (across either touch-line) from anywhere on the field. It's a way of moving forward, gaining ground during normal play.
You restart play with a lineout. If you put the ball into touch, they throw the ball into the lineout. If they did, you throw.
You may also kick for touch when awarded a penalty. No matter where you kick from, a lineout takes place where the ball crosses the touchline and you get the throw.
You often kick for touch with a spiral punt kick from inside the 22 area.
Outside the 22 you sometimes kick for touch with a bouncing grubber kick to make sure it touches the ground before going in to touch.
Find out more about the different types of kick when you visit the kicking skills pages.
10 metre line for each half
In rugby games, play is started (and restarted after points are scored) with a kick from the centre of the halfway line towards the opposition who are waiting in their half of the field.
All the players of the team with the ball must be behind the kicker when the ball is kicked.
The ball must travel at least 10 metres beyond the halfway line.
So this can be easily judged a dashed line is placed 10 metres from halfway, both sides of the halfway line.
5 metre line - in from touch, dash line
Play stops when the ball goes "into touch" (across a touch-line).
Play restarts with a "lineout".
The ball is thrown from the touch-line into the space between two lines of players.
It must travel at least 5 metres.
These lines show the minimum distance the ball must travel.
15 metre line - in from touch, dash line
Players taking part in a lineout must stand within 15 metres of the touch line.The 15 metre lines (one at each side of the field) show the maximum length of the lineout.
In some cases scrums, penalties or free kicks are to be 15 metres in from the touch-line. These lines show where that is.
5 metre line - out from goal-line, dash line
Sometimes a penalty or scrum will be awarded and must take place 5 metres from the goal-line, in line with a point along the goal-line decided by the match official.
These lines indicate the required distance from the goal-line.
All lines on a rugby field
You may not think viewing the field as a whole is easy.
Take it apart, see a bit at a time, put it back together as you have and you know you will remember the layout
You could practice when you have spare moments.
Close your eyes, picture each part.
See how it all fits together.
Move around, change direction, go all over. See the lines you know. Think about the rules that apply and remember. You can use rugby sidesteps anywhere!
Rugby field dimensions do vary, more so in lower grades. Check out the field, does it measure up? How it might affect your game and the result
Rugby field dimensions in metres
Dimensions must be as close as possible to the figures given above.
No minimum figures are given. If you want to see the actual official rugby field dimensions you`ll find them in IRB Law 1 The Ground
The maximum length of the "field of play" is 100 metres. That`s the distance between the two goal lines. You know what your maximum sprint distance will be!
Take field length and field position into account when you decide on your next actions.
You can break a defence with a sidestep but it is best to do it near their end of the field so you are likely to get a try and there is less chance of being run down after you have made the break.
That`s not to say you can`t put a few together and go the length of the field. Even one may be enough if you have the speed to keep clear of chasing defenders or have a speedy player backing you up.
At higher levels in the sport the length would usually be the maximum. At lower levels it may be worth checking the dimensions of the field you are about to play on.
Length variations are likely to be small, but could affect the quality of your decisions and accuracy of your kicks both in general play and shots for goal.
The chip kick in behind the defence may not be as easy on a shorter pitch because the fullback will have less ground to cover.
The 10 metre line is relative to the half-way line.
If you`re playing away and you`re on the opposition 10 metre line you may be 5 to 10 metres closer to or further from the opposition try-line than on your home ground.
Yes it`s in the middle of the rugby field!
But it`s relative.
No matter what the field dimensions are, the half-way line is drawn so that it is exactly mid-way between the goallines.
This means on a pitch that is 100m long it is 50m from the halfway line to the goalline.
On a pitch that is only 80m long, it is only 40m from the halfway line to the goalline.
This is an important difference because you often make decisions based on where you are on a rugby field - on knowing how far and how fast you can run or how far you can kick.
Basing your decisions on the assumtion you are 50m from goal (because you are on the halfway line), when it`s only 40m could have unwanted consequences.
The maximum width of the field is 70 metres.
Again at lower levels it may be worth checking the dimensions of the field you are about to play on.
Rugby fields significantly narrower or wider than you are used to could really affect your game and you should be aware of how the pitch you are about to play on compares with your own.
On a narrower field you may feel cramped.
The amazing jink may come in more useful.
If you are used to using wide open spaces to run around the opposition you`ll have to straighten your attack. But you`ll find it easier to defend.
On a wider field, be aware. There`ll be more ground to cover in defence. In attack you`ll be used to having to run straight on a narrower field and will probably use the extra width well.
Maybe your bouncing grubber kick put through the defence would be easier and more useful than usual.
The in-goal area has no set dimensions.
The width may vary from field to field. It is always the same width as the whole field.
The depth may vary.
The actual depth may depend on the amount of space available or on the preferences of the home team.
The maximum depth of the in-goal area is 22 metres. The law says it must be a minimum of 10 metres "where practical".
It can make a big difference when you attempt to score tries.
With deep in goal areas you can even use evasion techniques (rugby sidesteps) to get a try nearer the posts.
This will make it easier for the player taking the place kick to convert the try and score more points.
Check the field you are about to play on.
The distance around the edge of a rugby field could be called the perimeter.
You may want to know the distance round the perimeter so you know how far you`ve run each time you do a lap.
Running around a fairly typical field you would run...
That makes a total of 200m + 40m + 140m = 380m
A full size pitch with 22m ingoal areas would add 48m, total 428m.
You find the area of a rugby field by multiplying length by width.
A typical length is 100m for the field of play plus the depth of the ingoal areas at both ends of the field, say 10m each - total 120m.
The width is typically 70m so the area = 120m x 70m = 8400 sq m.
A full size pitch (22m ingoal) would be 144m x 70m = 10080 sq m.
Rugby field dimensions include the posts - 5.6 metres wide.
The top edge of the cross bar is 3.0 metres from the ground.
The minimum height of the posts is 3.4 metres.
We used to call the goal posts "the sticks"
"He/she sidestepped the fullback and put the ball down under the sticks". The posts and any padding are part of the ingoal area. You can score a try by grounding the ball against the posts.
In rugby kicking, for you to score points from any type of goal (conversion, penalty or drop goal) the ball must pass over the cross bar and between the posts.
Here`s a video clip where the ball did just that before being blown back over by the wind. The points were awarded - because it had gone over.
Would you believe it!
"Pitch" is a word with many meanings!
Put it together with "rugby" and it narrows it down a lot.
Search through the IRB document "Laws of the game Rugby Union" and there is only one mention of "pitch".
They describe rugby traditions of opposing teams enjoyment of each others company away from the actual game of rugby. As they say, "away from the pitch".
Everything else about the rules of rugby or the laws of the game of rugby is described in terms of the "field" or "the field of play".
Growing up I always used the term "pitch".
I recently started using "field" and I`m wondering why!
What comes to mind is this. I grew up playing school rugby at a large school for boys. The Rugby First XV played matches on the single rugby field at school. Although I would still have called it the pitch.
The rest of us went to the other, distant "playing fields" where a large number of places to play rugby were marked out, all fairly close to each other.
Because there were so many of them to talk about and identify our "rugby field" was not possible.
We talked about which "pitch" we were on in the same way other people talk about pitches meaning the particular bit of a larger area that has been allocated to them.
Here I`m thinking of street performers, book-makers, market stall-holders, campers and similar people with pitches.That`s my theory!