Below I take a look at some of the lesser known reasons behind some of the terms we use today;


Drop Goal – the first ever drop goal occurred after one particularly eager forward dropped the ball before reaching the try-line and in an effort to rectify his mistake cumbersomely kicked the ball over the goal posts rather than under them.


Dummy Runner – a dummy runner is another term for when the fly-half attempts to encourage the forwards to run by pretending to pass them the ball.

Flanker – this term came around after Richie McCaw’s first game with one player getting so annoyed he ended up compounding two well-known expletives in dismay at the young McCaw not being penalised.

Garryowen – during the early days of rugby one particularly dim footballer named Garry Owen accidentally wandered onto the pitch and wildly kicked the ball ahead when he realised what sport he was actually playing.


Hooker – a player who specialises in tossing balls before having their arms pinned back and putting their head in dark, mysterious places.

Hospital Pass – the first ever hospital pass occurred after one player remembered they had a hospital appointment mid-way through the game threw a high ball to his team mate before running off. It just so happened that same teammate ended up in the hospital bed next to him.

Maul – the term ‘maul’ was coined when a player about to catch the ball was caught midway through shouting “my ball”.

Number 8 – the true role of the Number 8 was forgotten many generations ago and as nobody is quite sure what they do anymore they haven’t been able to give the position a real name.

Prop – a large inanimate object used by other forwards to support the front of the scrum.

Ruck – the term ‘ruck’ is believed to have occurred after a player dropped the ball before shouting “for rucks sake” (he wasn’t the brightest spark) as he watched forwards from both teams prepare to pile on.


Scrum – the scrum was another phase of play designed by the backs to help keep the forwards occupied whilst they played rugby with a second ball. Unfortunately somewhere along the line one forward noticed the backs playing on and immediately demanded they desist.

Scrum Half – the name ‘scrum half’ originated when one slightly brighter member of the pack noted that the player feeding the ball was half the size of any of the forwards.

Try – when the backs realised forwards needed a little more encouragement to run with the ball before they collapsed in a sweaty heap they started exclaiming “nice try” when a forward ran more than ten yards. This later became shortened to just “try” and has stuck ever since.