The game of rugby has been evolving since the inception of the Rugby Football Union in 1871 – over 140 years ago. The way we score today is quite different to how points were scored when the game first began!

By the year 1890, there were five recognised forms of scoring points in rugby: the try, conversion, penalty goal, dropped goal and the field goal.

We have broken down how the points system has changed over the years below:


Originally, tries were not awarded points, but in 1890, the number of points a try was worth was increased from 1 point to 2 points.

In 1893, a try was awarded 3 points, and this value remained for the next 78 years! In 1971, a try was temporarily awarded 4 points and in 1973 this became the norm. It was only in 1992 that the try became what it is today; each putting 5 points on the scoreboard.


Since the application of the RFU scoring system, the conversion has always been worth 2 points. There was a brief change to the value in 1893, when their value was increased to 3 points but it was later changed back.


In 1890,  the penalty kick was worth only 2 points but a year later, this value was increased to 3 points, and has remained this way ever since.


Drop goals were awarded 3 points in the year 1890, but this changed in 1891, when they were awarded 4 points.

For 56 years, this did not change but in 1948, the value was dropped back to 3 points. Interestingly, when a drop goal won England the Rugby World Cup title in 2003, some called for the value to be lowered but, nevertheless, it has remained at the original value of 3 points.


In the early game, another form of scoring existed. A field goal, when a player scored a goal by kicking a ball that was on the ground but still in play, was originally worth 3 points in 1890. This was increased to 4 points in 1891; however, in 1977 the field goal was removed from the scoring system when the free kick clause was introduced, and are no longer used in the modern game.