England's Shaun Perry scoring a try

A try is a way of scoring points in rugby union and rugby league football. A try is scored by grounding the ball in the opposition's in-goal area (on or behind the goal line). Rugby union and league differ slightly in defining "grounding the ball" and the "in-goal" area. In rugby union a try is worth 5 points, and in rugby league a try is worth 4 points.

The term "try" comes from "try at goal", signifying that grounding the ball originally only gave the attacking team the opportunity to try to score with a kick at goal.[1]

A try is analogous to a touchdown in American and Canadian football, with the major difference being that a try requires the ball be simultaneously touching the ground and an attacking player, whereas a touchdown merely requires that the ball enter the end zone while in the possession of a player. In both codes of rugby, the term touch down formally refers only to grounding the ball by the defensive team in their in-goal.

A try is scored in wheelchair rugby following a change in terminology in an effort to become more aligned to rugby union "tries"[2] (Tries are worth 1 point each, and, unlike tries in rugby union and rugby league, there is no subsequent conversion attempt). Wheelchair rugby league gives tries the same number of points as the normal game (four) and conversions are taken and are worth two points.

Scoring a try

Aspects common to both union and league

There are differences in the fine detail of the laws and their interpretation between the two rugby codes. These are the common aspects, while the differences are treated below.

Variations specific to rugby union

Variations specific to rugby league

Shaun Ainscough dives for the line to score a try in the 2009 Challenge Cup for Wigan during their victory over Barrow Raiders

Point value

In rugby union, a try is worth five points; in rugby league, four (except in Nines, where a try between the goal posts is worth 5).

Although a try is worth less in rugby league, it is more often the main method of scoring due to the smaller value of a goal kick and surety of possession - penalties are worth 2 points and drop-goals are worth 1 point (2 points in the NRL if beyond 40 metres) whereas in rugby Union they are worth 3 points each. In rugby union, there is heavier reliance placed on goals to accumulate points at elite levels due to the significant value of goals and the defending team's skills.

In rugby union, the value of a try has varied over time, from none to five points. In rugby league, the original value was three; this was increased to four in 1983.

For the 2015–16 Welsh Premier Division season, World Rugby and the Welsh Rugby Union experimented with the awarding of six points for a try, along with other scoring changes. The intended result of a faster, more running-focussed game was not realised and the changes were reverted the following year.[3]

In the NRL and NRLW Nines competitions, a try is normally worth 4 points, but is sometimes worth 5 points when the ball carrier enters the "try zone" between the uprights.[4]

In some rugby union competitions, a 9 point try, or power try, is awarded if attacks are launched within 22 meters of the scoring team's own try line. Global Rapid Rugby was the most popular competition to implement this.

Penalty try

In both rugby league and rugby union, if the referee believes that a try has been prevented by the defending team's misconduct, he may award the attacking team a penalty try. Penalty tries are always awarded under the posts regardless of where the offence took place. In rugby union, the standard applied by the referee is that a try "probably" would have been scored. The referee does not have to be certain a try would have been scored. In rugby league, the referee "may award a penalty try if, in his opinion, a try would have been scored but for the unfair play of the defending team".[5]

In rugby union, before 1 January 2017 a conversion had to be attempted following the award of a penalty try.[6] From that date, no conversion is attempted and the attacking team is awarded 7 points. The offending player must be temporarily suspended or sent off.[7]

In rugby league, a possible 8-point try is awarded if the defending team commits an act of foul play as the ball is being grounded. The try is awarded, and is followed by a conversion attempt, in-line from where the try was scored, and then a penalty kick from in front of the posts.[8] In rugby union, foul play after a try being scored results in a penalty being awarded on the half way mark, in lieu of a kick off.

A penalty try and a possible 8 point try are two separate results with the latter being scarcely seen in today's game.


Scott Daruda kicking a conversion for the Western Force

In both codes, when a try is scored, the scoring team gets to attempt a conversion, which is a kick at goal to convert the try from one set of points into another larger set of points. The kick is taken at any point on the field of play in line with the point that the ball was grounded for the try, and parallel to the touch-lines. If successful, additional points are scored. For the conversion to be successful, the ball must pass over the crossbar and between the uprights. In both codes, the conversion may be attempted as either a place kick (from the ground) or a drop kick. Most players will nevertheless opt for a place kick, this being generally regarded as the easier skill. Note, however, that in both rugby sevens (usually, but not always, played under union rules) and rugby league nines, conversions may only take place as drop kicks.

In rugby league, the game clock continues during preparation and execution of a conversion, with the institution of a 25-second shot clock at certain tournaments from the moment the try is awarded by the referee, within which time the conversion kick must be taken, hence a team may decline a conversion attempt if recommencing play as quickly as possible is advantageous to them. An example of this occurred in the 2020 NRL Grand Final, when the Penrith Panthers scored a try with 20 seconds remaining in the match, bringing them to within 6 points of the Melbourne Storm. Penrith declined the conversion in order to give themselves time to try to draw level on the last play; had the team chosen to take the conversion, the remaining time on the clock would have elapsed, ending the match with a certain Panthers loss.[9]

In rugby union the clock is not stopped during the conversion and the kicker has to attempt the conversion within 90 seconds. The try scorer has the right to decline the conversion attempt by saying to the referee "no kick" after scoring.[10]

To make the conversion easier, attacking players will try to ground the ball as close to the centre of the in-goal area as possible. The attacking player will, however, generally ground the ball when confronted by a defender rather than risk losing the ball by being tackled or passing it to a teammate.

In both rugby union and rugby league, a conversion is worth two points; a successful kick at goal thus converts a five-point try to seven for rugby union, and a four-point try to six for rugby league.

Past to present

Main article: History of rugby union § Scoring

The in-goal area is the rectangular area from the goal line (try line) to the dead ball line. The image shows the markings of a rugby league field.

In early forms of rugby football, the point of the game was to score goals. A try [at goal] was awarded for grounding the ball in the opponents' in-goal area. The try had zero value itself, but allowed the attacking team to try a kick at goal without interference from the other team. This kick, if successful, converts a try into a goal.

Modern rugby and all derived forms now favour the try over a goal and thus the try has a definite value, that has increased over time and has for many years surpassed the number of points awarded for a goal. In rugby league and rugby union, a conversion attempt is still given, but is simply seen as adding extra 'bonus' points. These points, however, can mean the difference between winning or losing a match, so thought is given to fielding players with good goal-kicking skill.

Since 1979, in rugby union, the "try" and "conversion goal" have been officially considered as separate scores. Before then, the converted try was officially a single score called a "goal from a try" which replaced the score of the (unconverted) "try".[11] The change allowed the player who touched down for the try and the player who kicked the conversion to be credited separately for their portions of the score.

See also


  1. ^ Rugby Heaven Archived 2008-07-27 at the Wayback Machine Extra point more than a bonus
  2. ^ Jason Coskrey (25 August 2021). "Japan holds off France in wheelchair rugby opener at Tokyo Paralympics". The Japan Times. Retrieved 27 August 2021. Yukinobu Ike led the way with 20 tries for Japan
  3. ^ Thomas, Simon (21 July 2016). "Welsh rugby's six-point try to be scrapped after year-long experiment". Wales Online. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  4. ^ "NRL Nines".
  5. ^ The International Laws Of The Game, The Rugby Football League (2002), p.13
  6. ^ "World Rugby announce sweeping rule changes to speed up the game". Irish Independent. 18 November 2016. Retrieved 1 April 2023.
  7. ^ Laws of the game Rugby Union, World Rugby (2018)
  8. ^ Gordon, James (3 March 2023). "Verdict: Eight-point try double for Warrington explained". Love Rugby League. Retrieved 1 July 2023.
  9. ^ Hytner, Mike (2020-10-25). "NRL grand final 2020: Melbourne Storm beat Penrith Panthers– as it happened". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-10-26.
  10. ^ Laws of the game Rugby Union, World Rugby (2021), pages 39 and 50. https://live.laws.api.worldrugby.org/document/World_Rugby_Laws_2021_EN
  11. ^ "Rugby Football History". Retrieved 30 November 2016.