Get Inspired: How to get into Rugby Union

Fast Answers

Why get into rugby union?

If you enjoy being active and want to build your fitness and strength then this is the game for you.

Who is it for?

It's one of the most inclusive sports around and there are various versions of the game that you can test out.

Is there a cheap option?

You can just play touch rugby in the park with a bunch of friends or family, but joining a club can be inexpensive.

What if I want a proper workout?

From scrummaging to tackling, to sprinting with the ball, this can be a high intensity workout that will boost both your fitness and your strength.

Can I take it to another level?

Work your way up. Start with a club then look to your county and from there people will start noticing you.

Is there a disability option?

Wheelchair rugby was a big hit at the 2012 Paralympics. There are now chances to have a go all over the UK.

Is there a family option?

Most clubs will cater for all the family with kids' teams, and men's and women's teams for mum and dad.

Rugby union will teach you sportsmanship and teamwork like no other game. You'll test yourself physically and create special bonds with your team mates. It's a fantastic sport for developing all-round fitness as well as skills for life, especially teamwork. The great thing is you don't have to play the full contact version. There are clubs all over the UK that now offer Touch Rugby: you can have all the fun of running, passing and scoring without having to worry about tackling. The governing bodies for rugby in England,  Scotland,  Wales  and Northern Ireland  can help you find a club near you so you can have a go at either.


Wales wing George North scores a try

This is the most famous and popular version of the game. The aim is to score tries by passing the ball backwards using the hands. Teams are made up of eight forwards, who compete in the scrums and the lineouts, and seven backs who do most of the running and kicking. The skills and attributes you will benefit from depend on your position. Forwards are typically stronger, heavier and entrusted with the more physical aspects of the game. Backs need pace and agility.


England captains explain rugby sevens

This used to be viewed as a fun, smaller version of the 15-a-side game, but in recent years it has grown massively and now has its own dedicated following across the world. Sevens is a much faster and more open version of rugby as it's played on the same size pitch as 15-a-side but with less than half the number of players! There are only three forwards and four backs: speed and stamina are the essential ingredients.

Women's rugby

Welsh rugby star's hectic schedule

The growing popularity of women's rugby in the UK can be seen through the success of the England team at the 2014 World Cup. It is incredibly popular at universities, and women's rugby clubs around the country are always looking for enthusiastic players and the next new pool of talent so find your local club in England,  Scotland,  Wales  and Northern Ireland  to give it a go.

Tag rugby

Tag rugby

This is the non-contact version of the game. Instead of tackling, players have to grab tags attached to the ball carrier's waist and shout "tag!". The pressure is then on for the ball carrier - they then have three seconds to pass the ball or lose it. This is the version of the game played in the Under-7 and Under-8 age groups and is a fantastic way to introduce children to the game.

Touch rugby

Touch rugby

Played in much the same way as the Tag version, this is another non-contact game that removes elements like the scrum, the ruck and mauling. Tackles are replaced by touches, which must be below the waist. This is a great activity for people looking to keep fit while playing a game that is energetic and fun. It can also be played in mixed teams.

Beach rugby

Beach rugby is easily accessible to most people

This is a version of Tag that's played on a beach. There are normally five or seven players on each team and 'tag' rules apply. It's a fun summer sport for all genders and all ages - a fast-paced game that can be played in mixed teams, and must be played without shoes or socks. Get bare-footed and have in the outdoors with sand between your toes.

Wheelchair rugby


Originally called "murderball", the game was hugely popular at both the 2014 Invictus and London 2012 Games. Teams can be made up of both men and women, where the ball is carried over a line to score, and it's incredibly competitive. The Great British Wheelchair Rugby  site has a club finder, and even gives you the contacts to start your own.

Veteran's Rugby

older men playing rugby league

If you still have passion for the game but find your joints are just a little bit creakier than they used to be, the good news is that you can still play. Veteran leagues are played throughout the UK and are always looking for new players. Contact the rugby union association in Scotland,  Wales,  Northern Ireland  or England  to find a team near you.

Volunteering and Coaching

Rugby coaching

Rugby union is about more than players. The game cannot thrive without the army of coaches, referees and volunteers who give up their time week-in, week-out. Whether you have played in the past or just have a keen interest in developing talent, coaching opportunities are available in your area. Find out about becoming a coach in England,  Northern Ireland,  Wales  and Scotland  . You can also try Sports Coach UK.  Find out about volunteering opportunities in Northern Ireland,  Wales,  England  and Scotland.  Volunteer Scotland,  Join In UK,  and Volunteer Now  in Northern Ireland can also help you find a club that needs your 'hands on' attention.

Aspire to be like: Katy McLean

Inspire to be like Katy McLean

What's next?

1. Go to our Activity Finder to get into rugby union near you.

2. Search for your local club in England,  Scotland,  Wales  or Northern Ireland. 

3. Share your story  and inspire others!

Are you inspired to try rugby union? Or maybe you are a keen enthusiast already? Get in touch and tell us your story by tweeting us on @bbcgetinspired,  visiting us on Facebook  or email us on

See our full list of activity guides for more inspiration.