One of the more complicated pitch designs in sport, we explain what all the lines mean here.

What Do The Lines On A Rugby Pitch Mean?

The Six Nations tournament is being held at six different venues across Europe, however the basic design of each of the pitches will be the same. But what exactly do all the different lines on a rugby pitch actually mean? Let’s take a look.

Dead-ball lines

The dead-ball lines, at the far ends of the pitch behind the goal-line, do what they say on the tin. Once the ball goes over the dead-ball line it is… dead and out of play. If the attacking team kick the ball over it, the defending side get a 22m dropout or a scrum from where the ball has been kicked. A missed drop-goal, or penalty attempt, is a 22m dropout for the defending side.

Scoring Zone: A view of the dead-ball and try lines (Getty Images)


Again, they do what they say on the tin but they belong to the attacking team. A try is awarded if the ball is grounded on, or behind, the try-line but if officials are not sure if the ball is properly grounded or held up by the defending team the attacking team get a 5m scrum. The goal posts are part of the try-line and a five-pointer is awarded if the ball is touched onto the base of the posts or the padding. If you take the ball over your own goal-line and touch it down it is a 5m scrum to the attacking team.

22-metre lines

Have a wild guess. These are lines 22 metres from the try-lines at either end of the pitch and are a safety net for defending teams who can kick the ball out on the full if they are behind the line. If they are not behind their own 22m line, or ran the ball back behind the line and boot it out without it bouncing, then the lineout is taken level with where the ball was kicked from. Also the starting point for 22m dropouts.

Midway Point: A view of the halfway line (Getty Images)

Halfway line

Where the game starts at the kick-off and from re-starts after a score. The kicking team have to be behind the line when the ball is kicked. If they kick the ball straight out off a re-start the non-kicking team can have a scrum on halfway, a lineout on halfway or the kick re-taken.


Run the length of the field either side of the pitch. The line is not part of the pitch so the ball or ball-carrier is in touch if the ball, or ball-carrier, touches the line or anything beyond it.

However, the ball is not in touch if it reaches the plane of the line and is caught or kicked by a player who is still in bounds. Players can cross the plane of touch and knock the ball back as long as they are not touching the ground.

Touch-in-goal lines

These extend backwards from the goal line to the dead ball line and the ball is dead if it touches them. If the attacking team has played the ball into in-goal then a 22m dropout is awarded; if the defending team have played it in a 5m scrum is awarded to the attacking team.

Five-metre lines (dashed)

Run five metres from the touchlines and five metres from the goal-line. At lineouts the ball must reach the 5m line before it is played.

Five-metre scrums are taken on the line parallel with the goal-line if the attacking team is held up or if a defender carries or passes the ball in goal before it is touched down.

10-metre lines (dashed)

More dashed lines 10 metres both sides of the halfway line. When the game is restarted from halfway the ball must travel at least ten metres.

15-metre lines (dashed)

These dashed lines run 15 metres from the touchline and players in a lineout must stand within them when the ball is thrown.

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