RUGBY UNION POSITIONS EXPLAINED: A mantle of leadership runs through the whole rugby squad. It includes the backs, props, the hooker, scrum half, two flankers, and others.
This section explains all 15 player positions in rugby union. It describes their jobs by rugby shirt numbers and rugby positions body types.
Rugby playing positions vary. In fact, rugby roles are as different as the shapes and sizes of the players themselves.
Yet, there are appropriate rugby playing positions for those who are tall and thin or short and stocky.
Traditionally, rugby forward positions were large and perhaps not so mobile. Backs were shorter and faster. But, the modern rugby player positions and roles in rugby union have changed noticeably.
Players of differing body mass and speed are now filling different rugby positions and numbers in the sport.
Rugby Positions Explained: 15 Players by Number
We list all 15 rugby union playing positions below. Rugby numbers and positions go from ”Loosehead Prop‘ at #1 to ‘Full-back position‘ number 15 in rugby.
- Loosehead Prop
- Tighthead Prop
- Second Row
- Second Row
- Blindside Flanker
- Openside Flanker
- Number 8
- Left Wing
- Inside Center
- Outside Center
- Right Wing
1. Loosehead Prop
The rugby positions and roles of the loosehead prop provides much of the power in the scrum. Loose-head props get positioned to the left side of the hooker during a scrummage. The loosehead prop is one of only three players stationed in the front row.
Out of all rugby union positions numbers, playing at the loosehead prop is not for wimps. The characteristics of this position mean absorbing most of the force and impact in the scrum. Props should have masses of body strength and oodles of power pushing forward.
2. Hooker Rugby Player Positions
The responsibilities of the hooker have unequalled duties in rugby union field positions. Hooker rugby players have a leading importance out of all eight forwards. In rugby the central forward in the front row of a scrum is for hookers numbers.
Hookers are responsible for hooking and collecting the ball from the scrum. The other chief role of a hooker is throwing the ball back in to play to the jumpers at the line-outs.
A rugby hooker plays under a huge amount of pressure from his teammates. Ideally a hooker in rugby should be a confident player with oodles of steady nerves. Hookers needs a strong back and neck, while retaining remarkable flexibility in their body.
Hooker rugby positions get filled by one of the smallest players on the pitch. But their powerful legs and arms contribute a huge part towards controlling the scrum. Ultimately that means winning games.
3. Tighthead Prop
A tighthead prop lines up on the right side of the hooker on the front row of the scrum. Both tighthead and loosehead props take the brunt of impact while scrummaging. So, both props should have lots of upper body mass and strength.
The big push in a scrum falls mostly on the shoulders of the two props in the front row. Their positions in rugby union involve them in open play tackles, during rucks, and according to rugby maul laws.
4 & 5. Second Row Rugby Union Positions and Numbers
The players on the second row are often called locks. They typically wear rugby union shirt numbers four and five and are usually powerful and tall. The second rowers provide further power for the big push behind the hooker and the props in the scrum.
There is another important role for the second row. Their role is collecting the ball from the hooker and delivering it out to the scrum-half. If you play at second row rugby union playing positions you are also a target in the line-out. That means you should be mobile and athletic around the park carrying the ball and making tackles.
6. Blindside Flanker Number and Position
The rugby union player position of ‘blind side flanker’ is usually for big and burly players. You need a well-built rugby flanker playing in these rugby field positions.
The blindside flanker has a physical role to play in the team. They make solid contributions as a regular target in the line-out. They are often seen as the player who provides the highest work rate in the tackles.
7. Openside Flanker Number and Role
Any rugby flanker in the modern game is primarily an all-round athlete. Rugby positions by number at openside flanker combine power, speed, and skill into one rugby field position.
The rugby union openside flanker position is best suited to a slightly smaller and more mobile player. Their work rate around the pitch is comparable to a blindside flanker role.
Rugby union team positions of openside flanker mean you should win ball possession. You will be battling in rucks and any breakdowns of open play. You will also be marking the other side’s fly-half and closing them down. Your chief role is reducing their opportunity to kick or pass the ball.
8. Number 8 Rugby Union
Playing rugby at number 8 means you have a similar role to the flankers. But the number eight controls the ball at the back of a scrummage.
Rugby number 8’s are hardworking, and always active in tackling, rucking and mauling. You need overriding amounts of explosive pace and power playing these rugby union positions. You will play a big part in the line-out and during scrums near the opposition’s try-line.
9. Scrum-half Rugby Player Positions
Playing at the scrum half number is a crucial link between the forward players and the backs. Scrum-halves are playmakers who are always active in defence and attack.
These rugby scrum positions are collectors of loose balls from regulation play. When the team is forming rugby scrums, line-outs, rucks, and mauls, they are trying to win ball possession for the backs.
Playing at scrum half number 9 means you organise your teammates. You should be accurate ball passers as well as quick-thinking decision makers.
10. Fly-half Positions in Rugby Union
The foremost role of a fly half number 10 is integration. They are often described as the brains behind the team’s performance. Integrating solid defensive prowess with superb attacking instincts is their main role.
A fly-half is a pivotal player. They are influential on the pitch as well as in decision making for the whole team. Fly-halves should be comfortable at thinking under pressure. Combine that with an efficient kicking game and faultless ball handling skills.
11 & 14. Left and Right Wing
The left and right wing rugby union player positions are among the fastest runners on the team. There is little difference in the role of the left wing and the right wing because they both need pace and agility.
The responsibility of all wingers is finishing off attacking moves created by the backs. When that happens the team has a chance of scoring tries. Playing in this position requires all-round solid rugby skills. Rugby union wingers evade tacklers with nifty swerves, sidesteps, and dummy passes.
12. Inside Center Rugby Union Player Positions and Roles
Rugby’s inside center is a player involved in defence as much as attack. The inside center position assists the fly-half in attacking moves. They are also busy drawing the opposition’s defence. You need accurate handling and passing skills and an unmatched kicking game to play at inside center.
13. Outside Center Rugby Position and Team Role
The outside centre is a player with a similar role to the inside center. They will be exploiting the gaps and finding holes in the challenger’s defence.
What are the outside center rugby playing positions and their roles on the field? The role means you should have a sturdy defensive game, unerring handling and passing skills. Not to mention a precise kicking game.