How Long is a Rugby Match?

When watching or preparing to play rugby, a common question that arises is, “How long is a rugby match?” Understanding the duration of a rugby match is essential for players, fans, and coaches alike. This comprehensive guide will cover everything you need to know about the length of a rugby match, including the structure, additional time considerations, and variations across different levels of play.

Standard Duration of a Rugby Match

A standard rugby match, as played under the rules set by World Rugby, consists of two halves, each lasting 40 minutes. This results in a total playing time of 80 minutes. However, the actual duration of a rugby match often exceeds this due to various stoppages and additional time considerations.

Breakdown of Rugby Match Time

  1. First Half: 40 minutes
  2. Halftime Interval: Typically 10 minutes
  3. Second Half: 40 minutes

Total Standard Duration: 90 minutes (including the halftime interval)

Stoppage Time and Additional Considerations

While the 80-minute playtime is standard, several factors can extend the overall duration of a rugby match:

  1. Injuries: Play is stopped to attend to injured players, which can add several minutes to each half.
  2. Scrums and Lineouts: These set pieces often take time to set up and execute, contributing to additional stoppage time.
  3. TMO (Television Match Official) Reviews: Decisions referred to the TMO can pause the game for a few minutes as the officials review footage.
  4. Substitutions: The process of making substitutions can slightly delay the game.
  5. Penalties and Conversions: Time taken to set up and take penalty kicks or conversions adds to the match duration.

Extra Time: In knockout or tournament matches, if the score is tied at the end of regular time, extra time may be played. This typically consists of two 10-minute halves.

Variations in Match Duration

While the 80-minute match is standard at the professional and international levels, there are variations in match duration based on age groups and competition formats.

  1. Youth Rugby:
    • Under-19 and below: Matches are often shorter, with two halves of 35 minutes each, totaling 70 minutes.
    • Mini Rugby: For younger age groups (under-13 and below), matches can be even shorter, often comprising two halves of 20 minutes each.
  2. Rugby Sevens:
    • A faster-paced version of the game, Rugby Sevens matches consist of two halves of 7 minutes each, with a 2-minute halftime interval. This results in a total match duration of 16 minutes.
    • In knockout stages or finals, extra time may be added, typically in 5-minute halves.


So, how long is a rugby match? The standard answer is 80 minutes of playtime divided into two 40-minute halves. However, when accounting for stoppages, injuries, and other interruptions, the actual time spent watching a match can be closer to 90 minutes or more. Variations exist for youth rugby and different formats like Rugby Sevens, making the duration flexible depending on the level and type of competition. Understanding these nuances helps fans, players, and coaches better appreciate the structure and flow of this dynamic and exciting sport.

Recent Posts