Rugby Scrum
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Positions for Rugby

What are the rugby positions?

How do players line up on a rugby pitch? What are the rugby positions?[1] If you are not familiar with positions in rugby some of the terminology can be bewildering. What is a hooker, a flanker or a loose head prop?

The first thing to understand about positions for rugby is the difference between forwards and backs.

Forwards are the muscle of the team, the big heavy chaps that take part in scrums and lineouts. The backs are built for speed, though there are some pretty big backs out there. Jonah Lomu was an absolute giant!


A scrum lines up with three players at the front, two behind them, one at the back and two hanging off the side. 

1. Loose head prop - One of two players at the front of the scrum who 'prop-up' the hooker.  The loose head stands on the side that the ball is put into the scrum. He binds outside the other teams prop so he can see what is going on.

2 The hooker stands between the two props in the scrum. His job is to hook the ball back so his team mates can get it out of the back of the scrum.

3 The tight head prop stands the other side of the hooker. He is the opposite side of the scrum to where the ball is put in and binds inside the the other team's prop.

4 & 5 Are the second rows, also known as locks. They form the second row of the scrum and lock into the scrum by placing their heads between the thighs of the prop and the hooker. 

6 Blindside flanker - Flankers, also known as wing forwards, hang on the side of the scrum. They can break away quickly and are generally first to the breakdown and the foragers of the team. The blindside flanker is on the side opposite to where the ball is put in.

7 Openside flanker - as above but lines up on the side the ball is put in!

8 Number 8 - Lines up at the back of the scrum (wearing number 8!).  Has to control the ball at the base of the scrum. Usually a big ball carrier for the team.

Half Backs

Half backs are the playmakers of the team - the guys who make things buzz.

9 Scrum half puts the ball into the scrum and stands behind the ball waiting for it to come out. His job is to get the ball out to 10 or if he's quick and clever do something unexpected and catch the other team on the hop.

10 Fly half is the team's real playmaker. Think of an american football quarter back. His job is to get the ball out along the line or make a judicious kick for touch or to gain field position. He is often the team's kicker and top points scorer kicker too keeping the score board ticking over with penalty kicks and conversions.

Three Quarters

The three quarters are strung out in a line across the pitch. There are four of them.

11 Left winger will be one of the fastest guys on the team.  His job is to find space on the outside, or with a clever inside run and to get that ball over the try line. He might not see the ball for long periods but is expected to score spectacular tries when he does. 

12 Inside centre. The centres take up the centre of the line. (Who'd have thought it?!) They act as the bludgeons of the team trying to break through the opposition line. The 'inside' centre is the one who stands nearest the fly half.

13 Outside centre. Pretty much as above but one place further along the line.

14 Right winger - the team's other flyer with pretty much the same duties.

Full Back

15  Full Back brings up the rear. Has to be good at catching high balls and punting the ball back up field. But often comes up into the line. Helps if he is a terrific runner too.

That in a nutshell is it. You are now an expert in positions for rugby and can talk about loose heads and tight heads with the best of them.