How Long Is A Rugby Game (And Why)?

Exact Answer: No Longer Than 80 Minutes

Rugby is a close contact team sport that evokes excitement and enthusiasm for both the players and the audience in the arena. It originated in England in the 19th century and has become a popular sport ever since then.

Based on running with the ball in hand, each team has 15 players in a standard form on a rectangular shape field – pitch. There are 2.36 million registered rugby players worldwide, and more than 6 million people enjoy playing it.

It takes no longer than 80 minutes to complete the game with two halves. Once the time hits 80 minutes, the game ends.

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How Long Is A Rugby Game?

Rugby80 Minutes
Football90 Minutes

A rugby match lasts for precisely 80 minutes long and no longer than that. It is split into two halves; each has 40 minutes of game time. Unless the competition is authorized for extra time from the match organizer, it won’t last more than 80 minutes.

The half-time interval has 15 minutes to take rest and plan a defense or offense strategy. Players can leave the match enclosure during this time. 

The referee can call a foul or misconduct penalty on any player who does not observe the game’s rules, but they cannot decide goal outcomes – which are determined by touchdowns. 

In this manner, a rugby match is similar to a soccer match – if one is looking for an example of an American sport with comparable levels of physical contact that’s played with intermittent dead balls.

Aside from these distinctions, the two games have many similarities, most notably that no timeouts are called during a rugby match. A different set of players substitutes in and out inside periods instead.

Rugby is a skill and strength-sapping game. It’s fast and generates high levels of both anaerobic and aerobic exercise.

One could be involved in any one of the following play types- 

  1. Catch to contest, spin out an opponent; 
  2.  Catch sideways; 
  3. Collect as a receiver (running or standing play); 
  4. Take the ball as a passer (pass or kick), progress upfield, or referee judgment that one needs to take it upfield because of the attacking position. They are also defending because the players are tired with their overlong ruck effort after they have just completed.

Why Would Rugby Game Take So Long?

The Rugby game can take a long time because of all the changes that happen. The ball may never even get played and instead just gets passed around in an endless cycle. 

On top of that, players might not know which way they’re going at a specific time, or they’ll need to trot to keep up with the others on their team when running or sprinting across the field. 

This is why when an individual might have been able to play if it were soccer or football, rugby ends up being more challenging for them emotionally and physically.

A rugby game takes 80 minutes to complete because of the above reasons. The clock will show ‘0:00’ or ‘0:01’ depending on which side of the stadium is storing time. 

Rugby union games are timed using two 40-minute halves, but there are no timeouts halfway through if a player needs to go and vomit. Only the players are substituted in and out during the play.

The referee will blow his whistle following a score and stop play for kickoffs, scrums, rolling subs, lineouts, and rucks—i.e., any stoppages that happen during the normal flow of the game. 

There is also fifteen minutes worth of “injury changeover” time built into each half that can be taken by one team to make substitutions or adjustments within their area before it starts again.

Extra time is given for knockout tournaments; it is 10 minutes with an interval of 2 minutes in between.


Rugby international matches have taken place since 1871, and the first game was between Scotland and England. A player’s mistake, such as knocking the ball forward or making a forward pass, causes a stoppage in play.

Players in the team are divided into 8 forwards and seven in the backs. The responsibility of the forward position players is to retain possession of the ball. The referee may stop the game clock when he sees fit to ensure that no time is lost during the match. 

A rare game may have a penalty shootout that is directly kicked to touch without the ball being tapped.



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Hi! I'm Nidhi.

Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.

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