In Rugby, the ultimate objective is to score a try. This is what every team is trying to do because it is the biggest way that a team can score points. So when did a try become so crucial to rugby?
When did a try become 5 points? A try became 5 points in 1992, with World Rugby changing the value of a try from 4 points to 5 points, with a try having been worth 4 points since 1971.
The value of a try has changed massively over the history of rugby. Scoring a try was actually not originally worth any points, but rugby knew that scoring a try had to be the main objective of the sport. So they gradually increased the value of a try, with it becoming worth one point in 1886.
World Rugby wanted to get away from football scoring, so decided to award more points for scoring a try or kicking a conversion or penalty. They gradually increased the value of a try, moving to it being worth four points in 1971. World Rugby decided to increase the value of a try to five points in 1992.
This was just a few years before rugby became professional. They were looking to increase the value to decrease the chance of a draw. There were a lot of draws in the first few years of rugby and it is part of the reason World Rugby increased the value of a try to five points.
How many points was a try originally worth?
When the very first scoring system for rugby was created, a try was not worth any points on its own. That is probably quite surprising to hear, considering scoring a try is now the main way that points are scored. The very first scoring system, designed by the Rugby Football Union, awarded no score for scoring a try.
Instead, teams would attempt to score tries so that they could attempt the conversion. While a try was not worth any points, you were given one goal if you successfully kicked the conversion after scoring a try. So teams would still have an incentive to score a try, but could still end up with no goals from it if they miss the conversion.
Five years after this, the RFU made another change to the scoring. Teams were awarded one try whenever they scored a try. This was not the same as normal scoring. Matches were still decided by whoever scored the most goals through conversions, penalties and drop goals.
But if a match was tied then the team who scored more tries would be the winner.
When World Rugby was formed in 1886, the nations decided to change the scoring system. This was when a try actually became worth a single point, still not being anywhere near as valuable as a penalty or drop goal which were both worth three points at the time of the change made by World Rugby.
When did rugby become professional?
For a very long time, Rugby was the game of the amateurs. Despite becoming popular around the same time as football, Rugby was very much seen as the game for the working class and so there was not a huge amount of money in the sport, not enough for the players at the top level to be professional.
Rugby became professional on the 26th of August 1995 when the International Rugby Board declared rugby an open game. This meant that all restrictions on payments or benefits to players were removed and players could become professionals, not needing another job to support themselves.
Over the following years, we saw investments increase and more money being brought into the sport. Rugby would become fully professional over the next couple of years, as teams at the top levels would start paying their player’s full-time wages, becoming professional rugby players.
It was inevitable that rugby union had to become professional because they kept on losing players to rugby league which had already become professional. It also saw new competitions created that helped to turn teams into franchises and brought new investments into the sport.
Competitions like Super Rugby and the Heineken Cup were created off the back of rugby becoming professional. These were seen as the best way to commercialise rugby and bring investment and money into the sport.
Why isn’t there more drop goals in rugby?
Over the last few years, we have seen the number of drop goals massively decrease, particularly as rugby has become professional. There are a few good reasons for that.
The main reason is that a drop goal is no longer the best way to score points. A drop goal is worth three points, while a converted try is worth seven points. So even if you scored two drop goals, it would still not be worth as much as a try in rugby. Even a try without the conversion is worth two more points than a drop goal.
This is because World Rugby has been looking to change the way that rugby is played. They wanted to incentivise try scoring and so increased the value of a try beyond that of a drop goal.
If a team wants three points they will often look to win a penalty. Penalties have become much more common in rugby as there are more rules now and referees are stricter with policing those rules. Penalties are a lot more common and so teams do not need to try drop goals if they are looking to get three points.
Drop goals are also quite difficult to set up. The person attempting the drop goal needs enough space to get it off and it is difficult for the attacking team to set this up. Drop goals are also not the easiest to kick. Penalties tend to have a much higher chance of going in because it is a kick that cannot be charged down.
Drop goals being in open play makes it very difficult to execute and so attacking teams have reduced the number of times they kick a drop goal.