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Rugby Positions

Updated on July 6, 2013

Rugby Positions - Rugby Union

Rugby is a sport that I have been directly involved in for the past 9 years, coaching my sons local team. Being asked to Explain rugby positions to both new players and parents still seems to be a common question.

When I set-out to write this Squidoo Lens about Rugby Positions, I wanted to try and educate as well as explain. The reason being that in the UK people tend to mainly follow football (soccer if your from the USA) and don't really know a lot about the sport of rugby.

Initially children start to play rugby in the UK from the age of 6. At this age they play what is known as 'Tag Rugby', which is a non-contact variation of the sport.

However I'm going to be talking about the rugby positions in 15-a-side rugby union. Notice I said rugby union and not rugby league. This is another variant of the game to which I hope to write about in the near future.

So shall we begin............................

Jonny Wilkinson - 2003 Winning World Cup Kick

Basic Overview

Rugby Union Playing Positions

Each playing team in Rugby Union consists of 15 players made up of Forwards and Backs. The Forwards are often looked upon as the powerhouse section of the team, carrying out the powerful scrums and line-outs. Whilst the Backs are used to gain fast ground down the pitch.

So to start with, can you answer the following QUESTION:

The Forwards

So how did you get on with those 2 questions?

The Forwards as I have already mentioned are used during the match to carry out the Scrums and also the Line-outs.

They carry out far more than that during a game, however were're here to discuss their rugby playing positions:


As directly quoted by England's And Lion's Famous Prop - Jason Leonard "A prop's main role is to scrummage, support in the line-out, tackle and hit the rucks and mauls".

Basically he plays on the left side at the front of the Scum. His primary job is to protect the 'Hooker' in the scrum.


The Hooker's job, is to throw the ball at 'Line-outs' and to Hook the ball back in the scrum.


The Tight-head plays on the right hand side of the scrum and helps support the Hooker as he strikes the ball back. Both props are often found to be the lifters in Line-outs.

LOCK No4 and 5

Often also known as the "2nd Row", these two players are normally the tallest in the team and are the engine house of the scrum. You will also very often see these guys lifted in the line-outs.


Positioned on the Blind-side of the scrum, he duties are to act as a defensive player and shut down any attacking plays coming down the blind-side from a scrum.


As you may of guessed the open-side flanker is positioned on the other side of the scrum and his main role during a defensive scrum is to ensure he is the first tackler to the oppositions Scum Half or Flanker. Always happy to make the big tackles.


Simply known as No8. Often seen carrying the ball from the base of a scrum. Also always in support of his Backs.


Rugby Positions


The No9 feeds the ball into the scrum (Forward Pack). He is also looked upon as the player in control of the Forwards. Funnily he is normally one of the smaller players on the pitch. Always found at the back of 'Rucks' & 'Mauls' passing the ball out to the other backs.


Probably one of the most famous No1's in the World must be Jonny Wilkinson. Will always be remembered for his Kick that won England the 2003 World Cup. Controls the backs and usually is reponsible for most of the kicking duties during the match (Conversions, Penalties & Drop-Goals etc.)


As the name suggests, this players rugby position is on out on the left wing. Required to be extremely fast and mobile but still able to tackle in defence.


Often looked upon as one of the Big Tacklers in the team, particularly in the backs. There are 2 centres in rugby and you will often find rugby coaches tend to play their bigger centre at No12.


Usually the smaller of the 2 centres, the No13 is often the faster of the 2 as well. However still able to make ground with the ball in attack, whilst being able to tackle well in defence.


Obviously played on the opposite side of the pitch to No11. In this day and age nearly all the players are bigger and this goes for the No14 as well. However he is still expected to run at full pace with the ball.


Often called 'last line of defence', the No15 is another player who needs to develop all the skills of rugby. He must be able to Run / Kick / Pass / Tackle and all to a high standard.

2003 World Cup Winners - England

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Martin Johnson Signed England Rugby Ball
Martin Johnson Signed England Rugby Ball

This official England rugby ball was signed by Martin Johnson on December 5, 2011 in London

Martin Johnson Signed England Rugby Photograph: 2003 World Cup Winning Captain
Martin Johnson Signed England Rugby Photograph: 2003 World Cup Winning Captain

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Rugby Positions Comments

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    • IanTease profile image

      IanTease 3 years ago

      Nice explanation for anyone who's not played before and wants to know a bit more. Great lens

    • profile image

      golfspice 3 years ago

      Even if you are from a rugby playing country some of the rules and nuances can be difficult to understand, especially in the union game. I played rugby league as a child but now prefer to watch union. Having said that I prefer soccer to both.

    • jemacb profile image

      jemacb 4 years ago

      I have played most if not all ball sports where the ball itself is round. Unfortunately I have not participated in sports such as Rugby where the ball is not round. :-)

    • goldenrulecomics profile image

      goldenrulecomics 4 years ago

      Nicely done. I never knew the names of any of the positions!