The Science of Rugby

To mark Mike Ross’s impending retirement and the support he has shown BTYSTE throughout the years we have put together a quiz to highlight the role Science and Technology play in Rugby.

In the below quiz, we use physics (and some interesting facts) to help us understand the role science plays in rugby.

BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition 2018 launched on 26 April 2017 with “It Starts Here”. This year’s campaign is centred around the fact that science and technology is in every aspect of our lives and is focused on fostering greater student engagement with STEM at an early age.



What was the original rugby ball made from?

Correct! Wrong!

Fun Fact: Richard Lindon and William Gilbert made balls for Rugby School out of hand-stitched, four-panel, leather casings, and pigs’ bladders. The bladders had to be blown up using a clay pipe and lung-power – not a sought-after job!

On average what percentage of a professional rugby squad have an on-going injury?

Correct! Wrong!

Fun Fact: A 2012 study printed in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that the match play risk in rugby is 74%, significantly higher than in soccer and Gaelic football!

What’s the average distance covered in a game?

Correct! Wrong!

Did you know? Using GPS, Researchers from the University of Chester in 2011 collected 304 sets of data from 54 Aviva Premiership Rugby matches involving eight top flight clubs in the season to March 27. They found that the average distance covered ranges from 4.45km (front row) to 6.84km (scrum half).

What’s the average maximum speed of a rugby player?

Correct! Wrong!

Fun Fact: Maximum speed for the different positions varies from an average of 23.7kmh (front row) to 30.7kmh (outside backs) (University of Chester study -

What’s the average velocity of a rugby pass?

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Fun Fact: “The average rugby player can pass a ball 20 meters in 1.84 seconds. For a 20 metre throw the velocity of the ball will not slow down too much because there is not enough distance for it to do so. And a good rugby pass should stay at the same height from point A to point B. The average velocity of a rugby pass is 10.87 m/s.” (

What’s the average force of a rugby player’s kick?

Correct! Wrong!

Fun Fact: 1 Newton = 0.01 kg -force “The average force of rugby a player’s foot during a kick is about 204 kg of force (2002N), even causing the ball to change shape.” (physics in rugby -

What’s the net-force put into an average rugby tackle?

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Fun Fact: Tackling is very important to rugby, but players must be able to take substantial hits from other players. A rugby player who weighs 108kg, accelerating at 2.54m/s2, we can calculate that the net force in a tackle is (weight) x (acceleration) = 274N (physics in rugby -

What’s the average net force applied in a scrum?

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Fun Fact: In biomechanical analysis of the rugby scrum, a study found that magnitude of forward forces at engagement ranged upwards to 7890N! (Research Project for the International Rugby Board (acting through its operating entity IRFB Services (Ireland) Limited -

How many kgs of force can Mike Ross take in a scrum?

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Fun Fact: Global positioning Systems (GPS) are used in sport to build up a physiological profile for each player, giving a better idea of a player’s strengths and weaknesses. Scientists can use this information to better inform players on how to succeed in a game. (Irish Times -

What’s the longest recorded successful drop goal?

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Fun Fact: The longest recorded successful drop goal is 77.7m (85yd) by Gerald Hamilton `Gerry' Brand (b. 8 Oct 1906) for South Africa v. England at Twickenham, Greater London, on 2 Jan 1932 (Guinness World Records -

What’s the average time on pitch for a rugby player?

Correct! Wrong!

Fun Fact: Average time on pitch ranges from 75.63 mins for front row to 91.63 for inside backs (University of Chester Study -

The facts behind rugby
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The above stats are from ‘physics in rugby’ and other academic and news sources, but these numbers are subject to change – it depends on the size, speed and weight of a rugby player: Force = Mass x Acceleration.


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