How Long Are Women’s Rugby Matches? (Explained)

Women’s rugby matches have the same time regulations as in men’s rugby.

The matches last eighty minutes at adult level with fifteen women per team. The halves get shorter at younger age levels from eighteen down to six years old.

Many women play both fifteen-player matches and also Sevens Rugby. The matches are significantly shorter in the Sevens form of the sport.

How Long Are Adult Women’s Matches?

Rugby players are classed as adults from the age of nineteen. Before that age, matches are shorter.

Adult women’s rugby matches are eighty minutes, with each half lasting forty minutes as measured by the referee’s watch.

Because referees may stop their watches when there are injuries on the field, games often last longer than the regulation forty minutes.

Why halves go beyond forty minutes

Referees don’t always stop the watch for injuries. The general practice is to let the match play on.

However, the injured player may be interfering with play or could be injured further e.g., players falling over them.

If the game unfolds close to where the player is lying on the ground, the referee will stop play until the player is removed or recovers. The match clock is also stopped at this point.

Play doesn’t stop at exactly forty minutes

Unlike some other sports like soccer, a rugby referee doesn’t blow a whistle to stop the game when the clock hits forty or the eightieth minute.

You may hear a match hooter, but play will continue.

The match doesn’t stop until the ball goes out of play or there is an infringement. That can lead to halves that last several minutes beyond the regulation forty minutes.

Women’s matches tend to be shorter than men

The rate of injury is lower in women’s rugby compared to men’s rugby.

The difference is particularly stark at the professional level. A study across the 2017/18 season found that the rate of injury for women was less than half for men.

The rate was about 26% lower at amateur level.

With fewer stoppages due to injuries, women’s matches tend to be closer to forty minutes each way.

How Long Are Youth Matches In Women’s Rugby?

Young girls can start playing organized rugby when they are about six years old.

Up until they are twelve, they usually play in mixed teams graded by age. This is because the games have minimal contact.

The lowest grade is U7 or “under seven”. The next level up is U8 or “under eight”.

At both levels, each half lasts ten minutes.

The next two levels (U9 and U10) play with halves that last fifteen minutes.

The U11 and U12 grades play twenty minutes per half.

At this point, girls are no longer playing in mixed teams. At U13 and U14, the girls play halves that last twenty-five minutes.

The girls at U15 play thirty-minute halves. This rises to thirty-five minutes from U16 up to adult matches.

This table summarizes the information:

Age GradeMinutes Per Half
U7, U810
U9, U1015
U11, U1220
U13, U1425
U16, U17, U1835

How Long Is A Women’s Rugby Sevens Game?

Most women’s Rugby Sevens matches last seven minutes per half.

Finals may be the exception, depending on the tournament. Some tournaments choose to have a ten-minute half.

For example, the women’s final at the 2016 Olympics had ten minutes per half. This was changed to seven minutes in the 2020 Olympics.

What about injury time?

There are far few injuries in sevens rugby. Aside from that, referees seldom stop play due to an injury.

The only time I’ve seen the referee choose to stop play is when there was a bad head clash between players.