[ Subbuteo Menu ][ Teams ][ Accessories ][ Index ][ Links ][ Mail Me ]

Peter Upton's

Subbuteo Tribute Website.

Playing Instructions and Rules.

1950s Rugby Rules.

Whilst the OO scale football and cricket differ little from their 1950s counterparts, the original rugby set is a completely different game. The look of the field of play is very much 1950s Subbuteo, with metal goals wrapped in white plastic tubing, and matching flags available separately. However, the only figure that is a standard flat player is the kicker, who uses the same technique as the cricket bowler to get height on the ball. Actually, this kicker has his own rule sheet (described as ALTERNATIVE METHOD FOR CONVERSION OF TRIES, ETC), so might have been a late addition to the game. 

The game was played with small round playing pieces (think draughts) onto which was stuck a picture of a rugby player. These were rolled on end to simulate the player running with the ball, while the defending player had to tackle by rolling one of his pieces to collide with the attacker. That's about all there is to the game! The ball is only used for kick offs, and conversions.

I don't have a set to playtest, so I can't really comment on play, but I can see a few problems. You have to roll at least half the length of the pitch to score a try, and the forwards seem to be doing a good job of blocking each other out in the middle of the park. The formation looks more like American football to me (now there's an idea). 

It's also worth noting the scoring. Only three points for a try in the 1950s. 

How To Mark Out Your Pitch For 
And Assemble The Various Components

Place a smooth, but thick cloth on a table and chalk out a design to the dimensions as printed below:-

BASES - These are designed and manufactures to lie one side only at the end of their run. Make certain which way one falls and cut out one of the player circles and stick in the space which is uppermost.

GOALS - The wire points are inserted into the playing cloth until all the wire is covered. 

LINE FLAGS - Insert the point of the wire post into the underneath part of your playing pitch so as to appear just outside the actual goal, 25 yards or half-way line on the surface of the field of play.
Slide the plastic flag on to the top of the post. See that five red flags are on one side of the pitch and five white flags are on the opposite side. 
The posts do not rest on the field of play with the circular base showing.

A green baize cloth size 54 by 36 inches, for converting into a playing pitch is available, price 15s 6d post free. Ask for Set "K". 

Subbuteo Table Rugby.


Subbuteo Table Rugby is designed to bring the game of Rugby Football into the home. Most of the rules of the outdoor game are used, unaltered in the table game. 

Method of Play.

The game may be played by two or more players. If, however, more than two players take part sides should be selected. Play takes place alternately.

To start the game the ball is placed on top of one of the forwards (who like the other players is lying flat). The playing disc is then lifted by the thumb and forefinger. Aiming for the touch line, so that the ball bounces before gaining touch, the disc is jerked slightly to release the ball and effect a KICK. If touch is not gained the player of the opposing side nearest the ball kicks for touch from the point where the ball comes to rest. 

When touch is gained the wing-threequarter of the defending side is placed on edge at the point where touch is gained and is rolled either :-

  1. to start a passing movement, by touching one of his own side (which constitutes a PASS) and the last player touched must then run for the goal line. 
    Note. Any number of passes may be made but if a player in trying to make a pass fails to contact his partner the movement is over and the opposing side take a turn (see later notes on tackling). 

  2. direct for the goal line.

Whilst the player is running i.e. whilst the disc is rolling, the opposing side may try to tackle him. To make a tackle the player is placed "on edge" and held between thumb and forefinger and rolled at the running player. If the runner is knocked flat on the table a TACKLE is said to have been made. However, the defending player may wish to allow the running player to stop rolling (thus taking the risk of a try being scored!) and tackle him then; so when the runner has stopped he is left "on edge" and the opponent tries to tackle him. If a tackle has been successful the tackler "has the ball" and himself starts a counter attack.

Tries are scored :-

  1. a player rolls over the goal line and falls flat

  2. a player rolls over the goal line and stays "on edge" but when partially tackled by an opponent falls flat inside the goal area.

Conversions of tries take place in direct line with the point of scoring but behind the kicker's own 25-yard line when the ball is kicked as previously explained. The ball must go between the posts and over the cross-bar. 
(A kick from the defending 25-yard line is taken when the player rolls or is forced into touch in goal or over the dead-ball line). 


  1. When kicked for touch the ball must first bounce. Failure to bounce results in a run being given to the opposing side from the position of the kick.

  2. When attempting a tackle the tackler must roll from the exact spot he was occupying at the time of commencement of the run. Failure to do this results in a penalty kick being given. 
    (The method of kicking a penalty is the same as that of the kick-off and the kick is taken in line with the foul but behind the kicker's own 25-yard line). 

  3. When a player has finished a run or kick he is replaced in his original position thus maintaining an orderly field layout. 

Scores Awarded. 

TRY                                =               3 POINTS
CONVERTED TRY        =              5 POINTS
PENALTY GOAL          =              3 POINTS


The Rugby Player figures should be pressed out of the cardboard and inserted in the slots of the hemispherical blue and red bases.

To convert a try, etc., the ball is placed on the wire triangle, and the BACK OF THE FIGURE is flicked with with either the first or second finger, as is found to be more convenient in order to deliver the ball through the rugby goal. Do not use the thumb as a spring. Practice will enable you to actually lob the ball slowly through the posts.

A set of 10 line flags as detailed on the Assembling Instructions is available as an accessory at a cost of 2s. 9d. (inclusive 6d. P. Tax) plus 3d. postage.

[  Main Page  |  Previous Page  |  Next Page  ]