Rugby positions

Rugby positions in Union and how you play them. Backs, forwards, wing, prop? How you enjoy yourself, feel good and play well.

Positions

This is what it's all about, where you fit in.

This diagram shows all the player positions in a rugby team based on the situation where a rugby union scrum has been formed.

Diagram shows layout of all players based on the scrum Rugby positions based on the scrum

Select a topic or scroll down the page

[Choosing a position]

[Forwards] [Front row] [Second row] [Back row]

[Backs] [Half-backs] [Three-quarters, full]

[Op]

[Bodies]

About choosing a position

In life people come in all shapes and sizes. Rugby, more than most other sports, reflects that fact.

People from across a huge range of body shapes and sizes will find a suitable position in a rugby team.

A team has 15 players on the field at any one time. Each player has an allocated place on the field.

Knowing the position you have been allocated helps you understand and remember what you need to do during the game and where you need to be on the pitch.

Age, physical characteristics and grade may affect your choice of position, so it's a good idea to start with the basics of choosing a position.

The individual positions in a team are in two major groups the "forwards" and the "backs".

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Forwards

There are 8 forwards in a team.

They tend to be the bigger, stronger, heavier players in the team.

These are the players who use size and strength to get the ball and move it towards the opposition goal-line.

They`re also the positions known collectively as "the pack".

Forwards take part in "set piece" contests for the ball.

One is known as a "scrum", where forwards from both teams pack together using their bulk, strength and ability towork together to get the ball.

Another is called a "line-out" where the forwards contest for possession of the ball after the ball has gone out of play over the side line.

During the the course of a game it is usually clear which team has possesion of the ball. You can see it being passed from hand to hand as players run with it.

At other times it becomes unclear which team has possession. Informal struggles for the ball take place. It's usually and mainly the forwards who struggle to gain possession but any player can be involved in it.

Ball on ground, with feet it's rucking.

Ball off ground, with hands it's mauling.

Find out more about rucking and mauling in the section on how to play rugby.

The "forwards" also work together in defence, co-operating to stop the opposition from moving the ball towards your goal-line.

There are groups within the pack named in relation to the places they take up in a scrum.

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Front row positions

Diagram names the front row of the scrum Front row of the scrum

The front row forwards group consists of a chunky hooker (number 2)

and two even chunkier props (numbers 1 and 3).

Always Loose head prop on the Left.
Always Tight head prop on the Right..

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Second row positions

Diagram shows the second row of the scrum The second row of the scrum

The second row group contains lock and lock.

Yes there are two of them! The strong and tall numbers 4 and 5.

Players in the front row and the second row positions are collectively called the "tight five" because they are all bound tightly to each other in scrums.

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Back row positions

Diagram shows the back row of the scrum Back row of the scrum

Players in the back row have had a few names over the years.

The players on either side of the back row used to be called "wing forwards".

Because they are bound only loosely to the tight 5 they have been known as "loose forwards"

They break away quickly from scrums and lineouts so have been know as "break-aways".

They are now known as flankers.

In the middle of the back row, at the very back of the scrum is the big number eight.

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Backs

There are 7 backs in a team.

The backs provide more of the speed, agility and evasiveness required in many cases to score tries.

They tend to be smaller, faster, more elusive players.

This is only a guide! Many are large and fast!

Many are not elusive!

This is good, for you. Be elusive. It gets you in the team and it`s a great advantage for your side.

You`re a good back when you have good individual skills in running, passing, catching, kicking and tackling.

Backs move the ball to search out or create weaknesses in defence.

When you find weakness, you still need to get the ball through the opposition, so use your speed and evasion skills.

There are groups within the backs named in relation to... I`m not sure what!!!

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Half-backs

There are two half-backs, both are key positions.

One is the nippy scrum-half (number 9) - the linking forwards and backs.

The other is team tactician, the fly-half (number 10) - calling the shots.

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Three-quarters, full

The only backs left to name are the "three-quarters" and fullback.

For these positions you need speed, agility and tactical sense.

You will also be expected to use your skills to take advantage of lapses in defence by catching the ball at speed and carrying it forward.

In defence you will be stopping your opposite number from gaining ground and attempting to regain possession of the ball.

You will be expected to run straight and be able to catch and pass well under pressure.

The three-quarters grouping contains
the two fast and nuggety centre three-quarters (numbers 12 and 13)
and the two even faster wing three-quarters (numbers 11 and 14).

Which leaves only the last line of defence. The speedy, hard tackling full-back (number 15).

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Op

This is a trick position - the op...position!

This is about the other lot. You beat them and win the game.

This section is to tell you the best way to defeat the opposition is to find out all about how you do it with EvtecHs Evasion TecHniques

You`ll be pleased you did, it`s all about how you avoid tackles. when the opposition are trying to put you on the floor!.

So, that`s it for positions.
Work out where you would play well and
... learn to sidestep so you
...... play good rugby then find and
......... help others
............ be a team, above all remember,
............... have fun!!.

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Bodies

Size is important. For some positions bulk and weight are an advatage. For others, height. You can be too tall for some.

Relative size can be important too.

Being a huge prop may be an advantage or not. Too big in relation to the hooker and the other prop may result in an unbalanced scrum.

If you have the right knowledge, skills, qualities and attitude you may still excel even if you are not the ideal size.

In the lower levels of rugby there is a huge variation in the sizes of players playing in any given position.

The higher you go, the more important size becomes, but even at the elite level variations still exist.

For example locks need height but not all locks are the same height. Somewhere, some player is the shortest lock!

Wings are getting bigger.But somewhere there will be the smallest winger. They may disadvantaged by size but beating opponents with superior evasion or blistering pace.

If you would like to know more about the range of sizes of players playing in rugby teams, go to the main menu and visit the player sizes page.

It`s about the size of elite players so you can learn a lot when you look at the the relative sizes of players in the different positions.

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Total Flanker has some light hearted descriptions of positions.

Like it? Questions? Comment below!!