One of the things you might notice about Rugby World Cup 2015 is that the referees wear microphones. Why? To allow spectators, both at home and in the stadium, to hear what they’re saying and to understand how they’ve reached their decision.

But if you’re on a mission to Fake It ‘Till You Make It, then you’ll probably need some help translating some of the most common terms…


A ‘ruck’ is formed when a player is tackled and brought to the ground. The player making the tackle must release the opponent, and this player must in turn release the ball. But players will sometimes hold on a little longer than they should, resulting in a penalty.


If there’s one phrase you’ll hear the most, this is probably it. It’s when a player that’s been tackled and brought to the ground hasn’t moved away from the ball, preventing the other team from picking it up and moving on with the game. It’s a common tactic of ‘slowing the ball down’ and enabling the other side to re-group.

3. “USE IT”

This is as simple as it sounds. When a team in possession of the ball is taking too long to make a move, and the ball is static, the referee will shout “use it” – along with most of the crowd.


In a nutshell, the ball must bounce at least one after a player attempts to kick it past the opponent’s line. If not, the ref will shout “on the full” and the opposing team will get a throw in from where the player originally kicked from, meaning they lose possession and territory. Bad times.


If one team breaks the rules, play normally stops and some form of penalty is given against that team. In some cases that may hurt the opposing team, particularly if they’re in a good position. So you might hear the referee say “advantage”, and allow play to continue even after the rules have clearly been broken. There’s a bit more to it, but that’s the gist of it.


The referee will communicate with teams primarily through the captains. Only they are allowed to discuss or query the referee’s decision, and they must do so with the utmost respect. If there’s foul play and the match is close to boiling over, the referee will call both captains over and swiftly instruct them to sort things out!


While it can look like anything goes on a rugby pitch, there are a number of rules to protect players and ensure their safety. For example, a player must not tackle an opponent above the line of the shoulders. If this happens, the referee will shout “high tackle”, blow his whistle and award a penalty, which is often accompanied by a “boo” from the crowd.