A rugby match, a full-contact ball game that is thought to have evolved from soccer, lasts 80 minutes. Although American football evolved from ruby, there are some key differences. In football, there are numerous occasions when both play and the clock are stopped; in rugby, the clock usually keeps ticking, even when play is halted.
A rugby match is divided into two halves lasting 40 minutes each. Half-time is only a brief 10 minutes. The match begins with the kick-off, and each team tries to move the ball forward and score the most points by running with or kicking the ball. Play is continuous, even when a player is tackled. The player is required to let go of the ball so that the match can continue without interruption.
Stopping the Clock
That is not to say play is never halted, however. Play stops when the ball goes out of bounds, when a rule is broken or when a player is injured on the field. But the only time the clock stops is for an injury, according to the San Francisco Fog Rugby Football Club. Most of the time when play stops, the clock keeps ticking. Because the match is supposed to be continuous, any stoppages in play should be brief.
A single referee on the field is in control of the match. He is aided by two assistant referees called touch judges. In professional rugby, there is also a video referee who looks at TV replays to make calls, if necessary. The referee acts as timekeeper. He stops the game clock by raising one arm and blowing his whistle. He also does this to restart the clock. When the referee stops play, he will signal to explain why.
The whistle signals the end of a half. However, if the ball is still in play, it is allowed to continue until a player is tackled or the ball goes out of bounds. Following half-time, the two teams change ends and the whistle signals the start of the second half. The referee can extend the time of a match for a penalty kick or a kick at goal. Also, time taken to tend to injuries is added on to the end of each half.