Rugby Union Positions
In the game rugby union, there are fifteen players on each team, comprising eight forwards (numbered 1 – 8) and seven backs (numbered 9 – 15). In addition, there may be up to eight replacement players "on the bench". Jersey numbers 16 – 22 differentiate them. Players are not restricted to any single position on the field, although they generally specialise in just one or two that suit their skills and body types. The scrum (a huddle used to restart play), however must consist of eight players (providing a team still has fifteen on the field); three in the front row, two in the second, and another three loosely at the edges of the formation.
The positions as named by the International Rugby Board are fullback, wing (left and right), centre (inside and outside), fly-half, scrum-half, number eight, flanker (openside and blindside), lock, hooker and prop (loosehead and tighthead). The names have changed over time and with geography. Early names such as "three quarters" and "out-halves" are still used by some people, while in New Zealand the fly-half and inside centre are called "first-five eighth" and "second-five eighth" respectively, while the scrum-half is known as the half-back. The "tight five" consists of the props, locks and hooker; the "loosies" are the number eight and flankers; the "inside backs" are the scrum-half, fly-half and inside centre; and the "out-side backs" are the outside centre, wings and fullback.
The backs play behind the forwards and are usually smaller and faster. Successful backs are skillful at passing and kicking. Fullbacks need to be good defenders and have safe hands to field kicks. The wingers are usually the fastest players in a team and score many of the team's tries. The main attacking role of the centres is to commit defenders, so providing space for the wingers to run. The fly-half is a good kicker and generally directs the backline. The scrum-half retrieves the ball from the forwards and needs a quick and accurate pass to get the ball to the backs. Forwards compete for the ball in scrums and lineouts and are generally bigger and stronger than the backs. Props push in the scrums, while the hooker tries to "hook" the ball. Locks are tall and jump for the ball at the lineout after the hooker has thrown it in. The flankers and number eight should be the first forwards to a tackle and play an important role in securing possession of the ball for their team.
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