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Rugby Positions


Rugby players positions explained

Rugby Player Positions: Union, League, 10s & 7s ExplainedDo you know all the rugby player positions? every rugby position explained right here

If you want to know all the Rugby Player Positions and what their role is

Then all will be explained here so you will have all the information you need to know to get a better understanding of the game

Having this information will benefit you even if you know it all

As it will be something you can refer back to if you ever start to lose your memory from all bumps to the head in those tough rugby games you play

Table of Content

What is a Rugby Team?

If you have just come from the dark ages and don’t know what a rugby team is then let us just quickly explain it all

A rugby team consists of a certain number of players (depending on the form of rugby) split into forwards, backs and substitutes. The forwards normally tend to be bigger and stronger than the backs and the backs tend to be lighter and faster than the forwards.

The same will apply for both male and female rugby teams

Just take a look at these Big Hits from some awesome women rugby players

Rugby Player Positions & Numbers Explained

Depending on the form of rugby that is being played the numbers and positions of the players on the field will change slightly but the roles of the players should always stay the same

The forms of rugby games explained here will be…

  • Rugby Union
  • Rugby League
  • Rugby 10s
  • Rugby 7s

The tables below will show you the numbers and positions of the players in rugby

Just click on any of the positions to be taken straight to the explanation of their roles

Forwards

Backs

The only position not listed above is the Stand Off as that position is only used in Rugby League which is pretty much the same as a Fly Half

Forwards

1 & 3. Props (Loosehead & Tighthead)

Also Numbers 8 & 10 For Rugby Leaguerugby scrum between two rugby teams

The 2 Props are either side of the hooker in a scrum holding them up slightly so that they can hook the ball out easier

They need to have both great upper and lower-body strength to be able to take the power of the opposition in the scrum and to be the powerhouses first in for the rucks and mauls that form

Props are often used as the first line of defence and attack with short crash balls so they need to be strong and quite agile

Attributes The Loosehead Prop Needs

  • Should have the ability to pop the ball off while being tackled
  • Should be able to push hard in the rucks and mauls
  • Should be a strong support player in the line-outsblack rugby ball with white stitching
  • Should be able to strongly tackle the player and ball
  • Should be strong in the scrum

Attributes The Tighthead Prop Needs

  • Should be able to strongly tackle the player and ball
  • Should be the strongest player out of the front row in the scrum
  • Should be able to stay on their feet and pop the ball off while being tackled
  • Should be a strong runner over short distances
  • Should have big strong shoulders and legs

2. Hooker

Also Number 9 For Rugby League

The Hooker is part of the front row in the scrum in the middle of the props and needs to be the brains of the operation being responsible for a few things like

Taking control of the timing at the scrum, winning the ball in the scrum by hooking it with their feet back to their own team and taking the line-outs making sure not to lose the ball and reach the player who will be receiving it

They also need to be like the props taking up crash balls or taking control of the rucks

Attributes The Hooker Needs

  • Needs to win the ball in scrums
  • Needs to be able to run around the field quickly
  • Needs to be a strong ball carrier
  • Needs to be able to throw the line-outs accuratelya rugby player being lifted in the air by his team mates to catch a rugby ball in the line-out
  • Needs to be in charge of the scrum

4 & 5. Lock (Second Row)

Also Numbers 11 & 12 For Rugby League

The Locks, second row in the scrum, are usually the go-to players in the line-outs so they are the tallest of the rugby team normally

They are the main binding of a scrum which helps the pack be more efficient at staying strong together and winning the ball

Second-row players will be the ones going over the tops of rucks securing the ball and popping it off to the ball carriers coming up the side of them

Attributes The Locks Need

  • Has to have the ability to run around the field fast
  • Has to be an aggressive defender
  • Has to have the ability to jump well in the line-out
  • Has to be a physically strong player

6. Stand-Off (rugby league only)

The Stand-Off player also known as the Five-Eighth player only plays in a rugby league role and partners up with the scrum-half during a game

Very similar to the Fly-Half in rugby union they are the decision makers when it comes to the whole team’s gameplay

The job that they have needs them to be quick thinking, fast-paced, strong tacklers and great ball carriers which can sometimes be a tough role to play

Attributes The Stand-Off Needs

  • Needs to be able to determine which play the team makes
  • Needs to be able to pass the ball off both hands
  • Needs to be an all-around kicker
  • Needs to make quick decisions on their feet

6 & 7. Flanker (Blindside & Openside)sitiveni mafi and sokai tai jumping for the rugby ball in a line-out

The Flankers need to be awesome at every aspect of the game as they are usually found in the midst of it all so need the skills to be able to deal with anything that is thrown at them

The Openside needs to be more agile than the Blindside flanker so that they can get around the pitch quickly as they will be in amongst the action when the ball comes into play after a scrum

Attributes The Blindside Flanker Needs

  • Should be a good defender
  • Should be a strong ball carrier
  • Should be able to jump in the line-out if it’s an option
  • Should have a huge work-rate

Attributes The Openside Flanker Needs

  • Should be skilful in winning the ball in rucks and mauls
  • Should be able to make that link between forwards and backs
  • Should be in charge of collision and tackle areas
  • Should be fast and fit

8. Number EightSébastien Chaba at the back of the Argentina rugby scrum

The Number Eight takes a starring role in the back row with the flankers and they are the only forwards who can touch the ball out of a scrum

They are the players that will have the X-factor when it comes to being an all-around rugby player

Well-paced, strong tackler, quick ball mover, strong ball carrier and a skilful player that should be able to read the field as quickly as the dynamic changes

Attributes The Number Eight Needs

  • Needs to be a strong ball carrier
  • Needs to be able to communicate well and be a decision maker
  • Needs to be a great defender
  • Needs to be able to plan and create options for the team
  • Needs a huge work rate

Backs

9. Scrum-HalfDarren allinson ready to pass the ball out of a rugby scrum

Also Number 6 in Rugby 10s, Number 7 in Rugby League And Number 4 in Rugby 7s

As the most knowledgeable player on the field the Scrum-Half is the game controller and decides which play of attack will be going on

They play between the forwards and backs gelling the whole team together and making them play as one

Very rare you see a huge scrum-half that is slow and sluggish as they need to be agile with quick reactions to ensure the ball gets away from the scrum or ruck area quickly and know exactly where it’s going

Attributes The Scrum-Half Needs

  • Have a huge work rate
  • Have an accurate kick
  • Have an understanding of all the team plays
  • Have an authoritative personality to be in charge of the forwards
  • Have an accurate, quick and long pass

10. Fly-Half (outside-half)a rugby player kicking a rugby ball off a rugby tee

Also Number 7 in Rugby 10s And Number 5 in Rugby 7s

The Fly Half is in charge of the back players on the rugby field and will have the ability to be able to counter-attack anything that comes their way

They are the central players amongst the backs and will call nearly all plays of attack once the ball has been won

As a player who is very diverse in their playing skills, they will be pretty much the core of the whole rugby team and is the player that takes all the penalties, drop goals and conversions so they are usually quite high on the scoreboard

Attributes The Fly-Half Needs

  • Needs to be accurate at passing off both hands
  • Needs to be in control of the back players
  • Needs to be a decision-maker
  • Needs to be an all-around kicking machine
  • Needs to be able to make quick decisions under pressure

11 & 14. Wing (Left & Right)a rugby player wearing a red jersey running with a rugby ball in hand

Also Numbers 5 & 2 in Rugby League, Numbers 9 & 10 in Rugby 10s And One Winger at Number 7 in Rugby 7s

The fastest players on the pitch, the Wingers have the advantage of scoring most of the tries as they are last in line when attacking with the ball

Being on both the edges of the rugby field next to the sidelines they are usually the last line of defence so as well as being fast they need to be strong tacklers and have the ability to think on their feet

Attributes The Wing Players Need

  • Can kick the ball under pressure
  • Can be both a defender and a leader of the defence
  • Can catch the high balls under pressure
  • Can side-step and swerve around players easily
  • Can be great try scorers
  • Can be a fast-paced player

12 & 13. Centre (Inside & Outside)

Also Numbers 3 & 4 in Rugby League, One Centre at Number 8 in Rugby 10s And One Centre at Number 4 in Rugby 7s

As the Centre’s are right in the middle of it all they will be able to read the whole game both in attack and defence

Close to the rucks and scrums, they are the perfect players to pop the ball to as they are running through at speed and hopefully crash through the defence

Probably the strongest and most powerful players on the field, not only are they strong tacklers, they can be seen scoring tries and setting up space for their team-mates to score

Attributes The Centre’s Need

  • Should be great at kicking the ball
  • Should be great at passing the ball off both hands
  • Should be a fast short distance runner
  • Should have the strength to carry the ball through the defence
  • Should be sharp and quick off the mark

15. Full Backfull back shuan foley catching the rugby ball in the air

Also Number 1 in Rugby League

Sometimes being a Full-Back can feel like a lonely job as they are right at the back of the whole team

Other times, however, it can be the most under pressure position to play out of them all because when the opposition kicks the ball up-field to them it’s solely down to the full-back to secure the ball and either make a run for it or kick it away

They are literally the last line of defence so they need to have the ability to take control of some serious situations

Attributes The Full-Back Needs

  • Needs to catch a high ball under pressure
  • Needs to be a strong and fast runner
  • Needs to be able to kick perfectly with both feet
  • Needs to be able to read the field to find space when attacking
  • Needs to be able to communicate well with the defence and able to defend well at the last minute

What is Rugby Union?

Rugby Union is a game that people normally call just rugby is a team game made up of 15 players and was created in England in 1823 when a young boy (William Webb Ellis) was playing football and picked up the ball and started running with it in his hands

This is what Wiki has to say about it…

Rugby Union explained by Wikipedia

Rugby Union Positions & Numbers

Here are the positions and numbers for Rugby Union

  1. Prop (loosehead)
  2. Hooker (tighthead)
  3. Prop
  4. Lock (second row)
  5. Lock (second row)
  6. Flanker
  7. Flanker
  8. Number Eight
  9. Scrum-Half
  10. Outside-Half/Fly-Half
  11. Left Wing
  12. Inside-Centre
  13. Outside-Centre
  14. Right Wing
  15. Full-Back

Rugby union positions and numbers explained on a diagram of a rugby field

What is Rugby League?

Rugby League has similar rules to rugby union but it is only played with 13 players on a team. A group of Northern English teams split away from rugby union in 1895 and created a separate league after a dispute over players pays.

This is what Wiki has to say about it…

Rugby League explained by Wikipedia

Rugby League Positions & Numbers

Here are the positions and numbers for Rugby League

  1. Full-Back
  2. Right Wing
  3. Centre
  4. Centre
  5. Left Wing
  6. Stand-Off
  7. Scrum-Half
  8. Prop (loosehead)
  9. Hooker
  10. Prop (tighthead)
  11. Second Row
  12. Second Row
  13. Loose-Forward

Rugby league positions and numbers explained on a diagram of a rugby field

What is Rugby 10s?

Rugby 10s sometimes referred to as Rugby X or 10-a-side is a tournament based rugby game where there are only 10 players per side. It was created in Malaysia in 1967 so that the smaller fast players could compete with the big strong players

This is what Wiki has to say about it…

Rugby 10s explained by Wikipedia

Rugby 10s Positions & Numbers

Here are the positions and numbers for Rugby 10s

  1. Prop (loosehead)
  2. Hooker
  3. Prop (tighthead)
  4. Lock (second row)
  5. Lock (second row)
  6. Scrum-Half
  7. Fly-Half
  8. Centre
  9. Left Wing
  10. Right Wing

Rugby 10s positions and numbers explained on a diagram of a rugby field

What is Rugby Sevens?

Rugby 7s is another tournament based form of rugby where there are only 7players that play 7 minutes each half. It originated in Scotland in 1883 where it has grown in popularity over the years and is now featured in the Commonwealth Games and Olympics.

This is what Wiki has to say about it…

Rugby 7s explained by Wikipedia

Rugby Sevens Positions & Numbers

Here are the positions and numbers for Rugby 7s

  1. Prop (loosehead)
  2. Hooker
  3. Prop (tighthead)
  4. Scrum-Half
  5. Fly-Half
  6. Centre
  7. Wing

Rugby 7s positions and numbers explained on a diagram of a rugby field

Other Forms of Rugby

Those are 4 of the main forms of rugby but there is still a few more that should get recognized but the formations are pretty much the same as above so I won’t bore you with those details

Instead, I will give you the links to some very reputable websites that have all the information you need about the other Rugby games that are being played today

Just to Finish Things Off

Every rugby position has been covered here but if you think that any have been missed out then just let me know in the comment section below

So out of all the positions here which one do you prefer to play?

Do you have a rugby position that you hate playing full-stop?

Get involved with the conversation and share your thoughts and views with others

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Have any Questions or Comments?

8 comments on “Rugby Positions

Chas

Hi Shwni,

I am American and most familiar with our football. I appreciate your article because it certainly gives me an education into the Rugby player positions! I have watched the game on television, but would not be able to name any positions. I did happen to pick up the term “scrum”. I enjoyed watching your video of the women rugby players, those are some talented women for sure. it seems like the game is gaining popularity here in the states. I noticed several streaming networks like Fubo now carry more of the games. Thanks for the informative site.

Reply
Shwni

I’m pleased you enjoyed learning about the different positions in rugby 🙂

Reply
Lynda

Hi Shwni, I had a friend that played Rugby in college and she was pretty good at it. I have never much understood the game until I saw your video. I now know it is similar to our football which I do know a lot about. 

I have been seeing that it is played here in college not only for the colleges themselves but also for people just getting together to play. I didn’t know any of the positions of the game until I read this post. 

Thank you for giving such a thorough description of the positions and where they are on the field as well as the video that showed what rugby is and how it is played. 

Blessings,

Lynda

Reply
Shwni

My pleasure Lynda 

Reply
Marlo

I’m actually really happy that this site exists cause I have heard of Rugby but never really understood what it is. Is it a popular sport in America? I always understood it as a mix between American football and regular football. Are the rules the same as they are in football? It also blows my mind that rugby players don’t wear more protection because it seems as aggressive as American football if not more.

Reply
Shwni

Yes, Rugby is quite popular in America but not as popular as NFL Football 

Reply
MissusB

Rugby is a highly physical game. When I watched the video clip I was thrilled with the skills those women showed. Forgive me for being overwhelmed, rugby was never a was never popular in our country so you may say that I am totally new to this and I’m loving it. Like other sports, the players are really good in passing, tackling, faking and of course running. 

As I was looking through your explanation for each position, I was thinking which position I can play. The skills are too high for me. Everybody needs to be a strategic thinker, fast and strong! Never underestimate the full back but I can probably play that position. Hooker seems pretty hard since they’re in a vulnerable position they can be trapped, plus they have more intricate responsibilities. Thanks for this article, I found another exciting game to watch!

Reply
Shwni

I’m glad you enjoyed the learning about Rugby and I hope you keep watching it 🙂

Reply

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