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Rugby Positions

   Players and Positions

A rugby team consists of about 22 players.  Rugby positions are broken down into two groups the pack or forwards and the backs. The number of players on the field varies for different age groups.  The 10 and under age group will have 10 players on each side and the format is five forwards and five backs. Age 11 to 13 play will have 12 players on each side and the format is five forwards and seven backs.  At the age of 14 the play goes to the standard team size which consist of 15 players, eight forwards and seven backs. 

The forwards are usually the larger, heavier and more physical players and the backs are the players that are faster and more maneuverable.   Jersey numbers are specific to positions and each player has a specific responsibility:  1- 8 are pack players, 9 -15 are backs. 

Pack Positions: These are the heavyweights of the team that use their strength to over power their opponents.  The goal of this group is to win possession of the ball.

  • Props:  Player #1 and #3 need upper-body strength to provide stability in the scrum, endurance, mobility and safe hands.

  • Hooker:  Player #2 needs strength, speed and goo throwing techniques. It is this possession that wins the possession in the scrum and usually throws the ball into the lineout.

  • Locks:  Player #4 and #5 need height, catching skills and mobility.  It is their responsibility to drive forward momentum in the scrum. 

  • Flankers:  Player #6 and #7 need speed, strength, endurance and ball handling skills.  It is their responsibility to win possession through turn-over using speed and being physical in the tackle.

  • Eightman:  Player # 8 must have good ball skills and a great awareness of space.  It is their job to gain possession at the base of the scrum, carry the ball in open play, defend aggressively and provide a link between the forwards and backs.

  • Scrumhalf:  Player # 9 are confident players with game understanding that can make a quick judgment call on what to do with the ball.  They provide the link between forwards and backs at the scrum and lineouts. This player must be very fast, powerful and have terrific handling and kicking skills.

  • Flyhalf:  Player # 10 orchestrates the teams performance by deciding whether to kick, pass or make a break.  This player must be well rounded with excellent kicking and ball handling skills, ability to communicate and perform under pressure.

  • Wings: Players # 11 and # 14 are needed to outrun an opponent and score as well as be solid in defense.  Qualities needed are strength, ball handling and tactical skills.

  • Inside and Outside Centers:  Players # 12 and #13.  The centers are key players for both attack and defense.  They will tackle attacking players and will attempt to breach defenses using their strength, speed, power and agility to retain or steal possession.

  • Fullback:  Player #15 is the last line of defense. This position needs great handling and tactical skills.



Each player on the pitch may pick up the ball, run, pass or kick it at anytime.  Also, each player is responsible to play defense when the other team has the ball.  It is usually the forwards who secure possession of the ball and advance it themselves or pass it to the backs.  The ball can be moved by carrying it forward, passed laterally or backwards or kicked. 

Play continues until the whistle blows.  If a ball carrier is brought to the ground he/she must release the ball but the play does not stop.  There are no first downs in rugby like in American football.  Either a teammate, an opponent or the tackled player who has regained his footing, may gain possession and continue to play.  A forward pass is illegal in ruby.