Rugby Terms in French

Crouch, Touch, Pause, Engage!

Do these words sound weird or even barbaric to you? No worries, it’s only rugby! This fantastic team sport born in the early 19th century in England in a little town called, guess what?... Rugby!

At VidaLingua, we share rugby values such as solidarity, respect, sharing and determination. So we invite you to discover this glossary of words and expressions that are indispensable for you to follow the games and cheer for your team.

First of all, here is some typical rugby vocabulary that will allow you to understand the rules of the game.

Scoring Points / Les Points

try / l'essai
This is the Holy Grail of rugby and gives a team 5 points! A player grounds the ball on or behind the opponent's goal line.

conversion or converted try / transformation ou essai transformé
The team can add 2 more points if the kicker punts the ball between the goalposts and above the crossbar.

drop / le drop
During the game, a player kicks the ball and it passes between the goalposts and above the crossbar. There you go, 3 more points!

penalty / la pénalité
When a team makes a mistake, the other team has the opportunity to score 3 points if the kicker punts the ball between the goalposts and above the crossbar, kicking from where the mistake was made.

Basic Actions / Les Actions de Base

pass / la passe
The players take the ball forward collectively by passing it to each other, always backwards.

tackle / le plaquage, placage
This is kind of the symbol action of rugby! To stop an opponent who is running away with the ball, a player can grab them from the waist down to make them fall. Never above his waist.

hand-off, fend-off / le raffût
A player runs holding the ball under one arm and pushing his oponents away with his other free arm.

Phases of the Game / Les Phases de Jeu

scrum / la mêlée
The players of both teams get in a group and brace each other. Then the referee launches the ball between them on the ground. Each team pushes to get the ball back using their feet. Once in their camp, they can grab the ball with their hands and play it.

maul / le maul, mêlée spontanée
Sometimes, a scrum starts spontaneously during the game and the teams have to play it.

ruck / le ruck
A small spontaneous scrum starting with the ball on the floor.

line-out / la touche
A team puts the ball back in play by launching it high between two parallel lines of players.

up-and-under / la chandelle
A player kicks the ball as high as possible, allowing teammates to get back in position and try to get the ball back.

Fouls / Les Fautes

forward pass / la passe en avant
A player passes the ball forward. This is not allowed in rugby as one can only pass the ball backward. No player can be positioned between the 1st attacker and the opponents’ goal line.

knock on / l'en-avant
This is when a player is unable to hold onto ball and still plays it towards the dead ball line of the opponent team.

offside / le hors-jeu
A player is offside when he is positioned between a teammate carrying the ball and the opponent's goal line or between a teammate who was the last one to play the ball and the opponent's goal line.

spear tackle / le placage cathédrale
A player stop an opponent carrying the ball by lifting him. This is very dangerous and usely punished with a red card.

yellow or red card / le carton jaune ou rouge
This is the sanction for an action that is dangerous, agressive or against the game. With a yellow card, the player stays out for 10 minutes, with a red card, the game is over for him and his team stays with 14 players instead of 15.

Funny Words / Les Mots Drôles

banana kick / coup de pied banane
A player pretends to kick the ball in one direction and the ball finally goes exactly the opposite way.

anckle tap / la cuillère
A player is running with the ball too fast to be tackled so an opponent catches his anckle or foot to make him fall down. Not a very elegant tackle but surely very efficient!

wooden spoon / la cuillère de bois
Nothing to do with the previous one! During the 6 Nations Tournament, this is the virtual reward that no team wants to win... as it would mean that it has lost all its games.

crunch / le crunch
This is the name given to the game between England and France. This game is always a very important one! By the bye, a specific trophee is attributed to the winner of this game during the 6 Nations Tournament: the Eurostar Trophee.

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Find these expressions and millions more with PhraseMates, the perfect app to learn a language, make a friend and expand your world ©. PhraseMates is a community of language learners so if you don’t find something, you can ask other users. You might even make friends with rugby fans from around the world. But always remember Sir Winston Churchill's words: "Rugby is a hooligans’ game played by gentlemen."

Christine Ducos-Restagno
Lead French Linguist