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What is Rugby?

Player Positions

VIDEO: Rugby Positions on the Field by Size of Player

Rugby is made with 15 players per team: eight players in the tight scrum and seven players scattered all over the field called backs.

When wearing jerseys, the numbers on the player’s backs will determine where they are located on the field.

Scrum Players

  • Props: #1 and #3
    They are normally the biggest two players on the team and are used for pushing the scrum. Since props are big, they are not the fastest of the players on the field but will use their size, weight, and strength to win the ball on a dead ball set piece called a scrum down. They also have a key role of upper body strength of keeping the scrum up and not having it collapse if it starts to fold over.
  • Hooker: #2  
    This person is normally a short person. The hooker puts their arms over the top of the props' shoulders and will be supported by the props' larger bodies. The hooker is like a offensive lineman center in football and hikes the ball back to the rugby quarterback. This is done by hooking the ball with the soft swinging motion of one of the feet as the team's eight-man scrum pack pushes forward to give the hooker more room to hook the ball.
  • Locks: #4 and #5
    These players are the tallest two of the team. They are placed dead in the middle of the scrum pack, and you will not be able to see them at all during a scrum down. They use their tall bodies to use leverage when they use their long legs to drive the scrum forward and try to move the scrum 2 or 3 feet forward to win the ball. They really don’t push the scrum, they lock out their legs and extend their bodies to push the scrum forward 2 or 3 feet. When the ball goes out of bounds and there is an in-bounding throw to start the game again, since locks are the tallest two players, they are the ones the ball is tossed to most of the time. Locks are also called second rows since they are the only two in the second row of the set scrum piece.
  • Flankers: #6 and #7
    These players are your tacklers of the team. They must run 100%, 100% of the time. They are used on defense to make sure the offensive back line has no time to plan any crafty set plays. They are your speed rusher/linebacker and must get to each offensive and defensive breakdown first. If they can outrun the other team's flankers, a high percentage of ball is won by these fearless wonders. Flankers run and tackle more than any person on the team.
  • The 8-Man: #8
    The 8-man is on the very back end of the scrum down and in all purposes has the same responsibility as the flankers. The 8-man will most likely be bigger and a tad slower then the flankers. About 20% of the time, the 8-man will pick up the ball and run with it off of a set scrum down, catching the defensive backfield off guard on an 8-man pick-up and run with the ball. This is a very effective when you only have to go 1 to 6 yards for a score close to the goal line. Strong leg drive determines this play by plowing over two or three men just before scoring.

The Backs

  • Rugby Quarterbacks: #9 and #10
    The scrum half (#9) is normally very short and like a basketball point guard. The scrum half is the one who puts the ball into the scrum on a scrum down and tosses out the ball to the fly half (#10). The scrum half must have very good and quick hands and quick feet to run some #9 pick-up and runs. The fly half is the other quarterback of the team. They must have perfect hands to catch a very quick pass from the scrum half and then pass it quickly to the backfield before the defensive flankers quickly munch them. The fly half also is known for having the best kicking leg on the team and instead of passing the ball, they can kick the ball deep over aggressive defense and have the entire offensive team chase the loose ball for a score, as the defensive team must turn around and run the other way. You can’t touch a player if they do not have the ball, and thus, a good fly half can pass a ball perfectly to his backfield in a split second.
  • Centers: #12 and #13
    These are the two running backs of the team. #12 is called the inside center and is a very hard and powerful runner on offense and loves to tackle. Inside centers are used for the short tough running game of rugby like a fullback in football. #13 is the outside center. Outside centers are normally faster and smaller then the punishing running of the inside center. Outside centers are the scoring machine of rugby when all is planned well and good passing is available. Outside centers are know for a bit of speed, but more for their judgement of when to run straight, turn the corner and also to look for pitchmen on their outside and inside as fast offensive and defensive support running crosses the field. When you see a good outside center, the wing normally scores due to the fact that he drew in two defensive players to tackle the outside center.
  • Wings: #11 and #14
    These are the fastest two players on the team and they have only one responsibility when getting the ball. RUN FAST! Since there is no outside defensive threat, the wing will use the space on the outside to go on very long runs. Wings will also do long runs when chasing down a 40 yard kicks and try to out run the defensive players as they turn around and chase after the ball when it is rolling on the ground with the first man their regaining offensive possession.
  • Fullback: #15
    Fullbacks in football and rugby could not be more different. Fullbacks have several responsibilities. Rugby fullbacks are used more as a punt-returner when balls are kicked deep over the backfield. Fullbacks on the other side of the coin must have a good leg to kick balls deep when there is no running room. Fullbacks normally get the ball with no offensive pitchmen close by and will have to take on two or three defenders running at them full speed and must quickly decide if there is an option to kick and chase or attempt to try to run to the outside and outrun the defensive threat. Defensively a fullback is the last resort on open field tackling and must be a good one-on-one tackler. Good offensive planning will have the fullback insert into the offensive backline to give an overload of offensive options.