As rugby gains popularity in parts of the world like America, it’s easy to see how the players and positioning of them can be confusing when trying to compare to other sports. In the below, we will discuss all the different positions, their roles and the strengths and weaknesses of different players in the game.
On the field a rugby team is 15 positions that consistently play, different leagues have different rules about how many players are allowed on the bench, so for this article, we will be focusing solely on the players on the field.
Conveniently, these players are numbered from front to back, making understanding the positioning that much easier when watching the game. A rugby team is generally broken into two halves, eight forwards and seven backs. This will become very apparent when watching a game and a scrum takes place.
Forwards will be the group bunched up taking part in the scrum while backs will space themselves behind ready for the next phase of action. In a general sense, forwards are usually the stronger but slower players, while the backs are the lighter and faster players. In this sense, rugby is a very inclusive game, as there is a spot for every body type.
With a few exceptions, the forwards are generally considered to be the muscle of the group, where strength is favoured over speed and stamina. Speed and stamina are still important, but strength is what wins scrums and punches through opponent defences.
Below are all the forwards and their key roles in the game:
- 1&3 looseheads & tighthead prop – the props are generally considered to be the biggest and strongest players in the game, as they are at the head of the scrum and the connection points between the two teams pushing.
- 2 Hooker – the hooker in a scrum is directly between the props with the goal of getting the ball to their side during a scrum.
- 4&5 Lock – the locks interlock their respective props and hooker, helping with not only stability of the scrum, but providing pushing power as well.
- 6&7 Flankers – The flankers are interlocked with the locks, holding the outside on their respective props. The flanks provide pushing power, stability and play another key role as well. Flanks are not only powerful but need to be quick and agile as they are the first players to break out of formation and make contact when the ball has officially left the scrum.
- 8 Eighth man – the eighth man is at the back of the scrum and is the only player of the forwards allowed to pick up the ball. The eighth man is an important decider, as he has the opportunity to send the ball to the backline or make an explosive play himself. Eighth men are usually strong players who excel at contact and incredibly quick bursts of running.
Continuing from the forwards, we come to the backline or the backs. Backs are typically renowned for their speed and agility, while still having enough power to take down a player from the opposing backline. They’re as fun to watch as claiming Grand Rush bonus codes and are often responsible for pushing towards a win.
- 9 Scrumhalf – The scrumhalf is often considered to be the connection point between the forwards and backs. The scrumhalf is all about agility, hyper-awareness, and quick decision-making. Scrumhalf’s are generally smaller and more nimble players and need very quick decision-making as the opposing flanks break away, baring down on them as soon as the ball comes their way.
- 10 Flyhalf – Once the ball is in the hands of the flyhalf from the scrumhalf, the backline really starts to perform. The flyhalf is responsible for the backline, as the plan of attack will change dramatically on what the flyhalf does.
- 11&14 Wing – The wings are the two outermost players on the field, hailed for extreme speed and agility, it is frequently the wings that use gaps in the opponent’s backline to score tries.
- 12&13 Centre – The centres are the connection between the flyhalf and the wings. The centre will receive the ball and find/create opportunities for themselves or the wings. They carry out the attacks and support the wings in any potential weaknesses found
- 15 full-back – the fullback is the last line of defence at the very back of the pack. Not only must they be fast enough to chase down any wings that breakthrough, but strong enough to stop a forward player too. The fullback is often a talented kicker as well in order to push the ball away from their own try line.