Rugby Rules 101: What Does Advantage Mean?

Watch any game of rugby at any level and you'll definitely hear the referee say the word "advantage" at least 10 times a game. It's an exciting part of the sport and makes for some of the most entertaining plays over the course of a game. 

What does it mean though? Here's a rundown on what advantage is and how it can be used to your... advantage:

What It Means

Advantage in rugby is relatively similar to advantage in soccer and hockey, or declining a penalty in football. It occurs whenever one team commits an infraction, such as a penalty or a knock-on, and the other team still has the ball. Instead of blowing the whistle and ending the play, the referee will stick his arm out and say "advantage 'x team'", and that squad will have the opportunity to keep playing and attempting to create a scoring chance. 


If the referee thinks that the team with the ball has had it long enough and nothing is developing, he or she will blow the whistle and say "no advantage gained", then take the ball back to the point of the infraction and set up either a penalty or a scrum.

However, if the ref deems that a scoring chance has been created or that enough ground has been made forward, he or she will say "advantage gained", and the infraction will then be voided and the game simply continues. Generally, penalty advantages will last longer than knock-on advantages because the opportunity for meters gained on a penalty will be much larger than from a knock, which results in a scrum at the place of the handling error. 

How Long Can Advantage Last?

Advantage can really last for as long as the referee wants it to. In situations where a team is down near the goal line, it isn't uncommon to see advantages last for 10-15 phases, since every carry is realistically a scoring chance. There was famously a Six Nations game in 2017 between France and Wales that went into the 100th minute because Wales continually committed penalties on their goal line on the final play, allowing France to keep getting another crack. 


How To Use Advantage

When your team has advantage, that's the most perfect time to attempt a high risk, high reward type of play. Since you're going to get the ball back no matter what, you can try something tricky or fancy to unlock the defense, like a long cutout pass, a cross field kick, a chip and chase, or a no-look pass. Many teams will also look to immediately shift the ball wide when they have advantage, because there is likely more space out there. Typically, shifting it outside means running the risk of losing territory and support, but if you have a penalty or a scrum down coming your way, there's no reason to be concerned about losing ground. 

The 2019 Rugby World Cup saw a lot of teams utilize the cross-field kick to score tries when they had advantage:

Round 4: Super Rugby Aotearoa/AU Team of the Week

With the Australian Super Rugby teams entering the fold this week, the Super Rugby Team of the Week selection just got a whole lot tougher. There were plenty of great performances over the weekend, and a few names on the sheet that continue to show up week in and week out. 

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber?  Log In

MLR Nationality Breakdown By Position: New England Freejacks

The other day I was thinking about fly-halves in the MLR -- since that is my position -- and I got to thinking how few American players there are playing fly-half in Major League Rugby. The only ones I could think of off the top of my head were Ben Cima (SEA), Scott Dean (SEA), Tadgh Leader (NE) and Zinzan Elan-Puttick (AUS) -- and it's worth noting that both Leader and Elan-Puttick grew up playing rugby in Ireland and South Africa respectively. 

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber?  Log In

10 Monday Notes: Hot Seats In NZ, Super Rugby Kicks Off In AUS

The gifts keep on coming, as Super Rugby AU's new season just got underway this past weekend with two scintillating matchups, while Super Rugby Aotearoa once again dazzled fans. 

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber?  Log In

MLR Nationality Breakdown By Position: Houston Sabercats

The other day I was thinking about fly-halves in the MLR -- since that is my position -- and I got to thinking how few American players there are playing fly-half in Major League Rugby. The only ones I could think of off the top of my head were Ben Cima (SEA), Scott Dean (SEA), Tadgh Leader (NE) and Zinzan Elan-Puttick (AUS) -- and it's worth noting that both Leader and Elan-Puttick grew up playing rugby in Ireland and South Africa respectively. 

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber?  Log In

More Rugby! Super Rugby Australia Kicks Off With Reds vs Waratahs

Much to the delight of many rugby fans all around the world, Super Rugby began a New Zealand-only competition three weeks ago, giving spectators something great to feast their eyes on after a long rugby layoff since the start of the pandemic. Well, starting this weekend the rugby universe will be treated to another great competition, as Super Rugby now begins its Australian-only league. 

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber?  Log In

TWO UNBEATENS REMAIN: Super Rugby Aotearoa Round 4 Preview

Through three rounds of Super Rugby Aotearoa, it's the Blues and the Crusaders who still remain unbeaten, while the Chiefs and the Hurricanes are still in search of a first victory on the season. The Highlanders, meanwhile, sit at 1-1 after two heart-stopping fixtures against the Chiefs and the Blues. 

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber?  Log In

Date Set For New Zealand's North vs South Island Battle

For the first time since the mid 1980's, New Zealand is set to reintroduce the famous North vs South Island match on August 29th, pitting players from each of the two parts of New Zealand against one another to settle where the best rugby players in the country truly come from. 

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber?  Log In

MLR Nationality Breakdown By Position: Colorado Raptors

The other day I was thinking about fly-halves in the MLR -- since that is my position -- and I got to thinking how few American players there are playing fly-half in Major League Rugby. The only ones I could think of off the top of my head were Ben Cima (SEA), Scott Dean (SEA), Tadgh Leader (NE) and Zinzan Elan-Puttick (AUS) -- and it's worth noting that both Leader and Elan-Puttick grew up playing rugby in Ireland and South Africa respectively. 

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber?  Log In

Could New Zealand Be Hosting The Entire 2020 Rugby Championship?

With much of the world shut down still thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, rumors are swirling that New Zealand could be home to the entire 2020 Rugby Championship. The past three weeks have seen the beginning of the Super Rugby Aotearoa, a competition involving just the four New Zealand Super Rugby franchises. 

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber?  Log In

MLR Nationality Breakdown By Position: Austin Gilgronis

The other day I was thinking about fly-halves in the MLR -- since that is my position -- and I got to thinking how few American players there are playing fly-half in Major League Rugby. The only ones I could think of off the top of my head were Ben Cima (SEA), Scott Dean (SEA), Tadgh Leader (NE) and Zinzan Elan-Puttick (AUS) -- and it's worth noting that both Leader and Elan-Puttick grew up playing rugby in Ireland and South Africa respectively. 

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber?  Log In