Best Position in Rugby Explained: A Beginner’s Guide

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Written By Hutch

Rugby is no doubt one of the most followed sports in the world, and being a full-contact team sport, it requires both physical and technical strength. Played with two teams of 15 players each, it accommodates players of different strengths and sizes. While it is ideal for a player to be an all-round fit, a rugby team can accommodate players of varying strength and technical abilities.

Since 15 players start at once for each playing team, the positioning can be confusing for beginners. A newbie will find it difficult to understand the role of each player. However, in this article, we will explain positions in Rugby, their role, and other aspects of Rugby you should understand as a starter.

A Quick Overview of Rugby 

Rugby, as it is commonly called, is the short form of Rugby Union Football, and it is a physical team sport played by two teams of 15 players each and eight substitutes. It started in England in the 19th century, and as of 2023, it has more than 8 million registered pro players globally.

Players run with the ball aiming to score on a rectangular pitch with two posts at the length ends.

While the ball is oval-shaped, the goalposts look like the letter H. A standard rugby match has two halves of 40 minutes each with 15 minutes break. However, due to stops and pauses, the time often exceeds 95 minutes. Established in 1886, World Rugby governs all activities related to the game and has 116 full-member nations with 18 associate members. The World Rugby headquarters is in Dublin, Ireland. It organizes top competitions across ages and genders, and the events attract many spectators.

The Rugby World Cup and the Women’s Rugby World Cup are two top tournaments, with South Africa and New Zealand as champions, respectively. The following are some equipment used in Rugby.

  • Rugby ball
  • Rugby boots
  • Mouthguard 
  • Scrum cap
  • Shoulder pads
  • Kicking tee 
  • Second Skin

Best Rugby Positions 

It is understandable if you find the players’ positioning confusing as a new rugby fan or intending player. Our guide will help you understand each player’s positions and roles. The following table shows the division of the 15 players into eight forwards and seven backs, with explanations of their responsibilities below.

  • Loosehead Props (1)
  • Scrum-half (9)
  • Hooker (2)
  • Fly-half (10)
  • Tighthead Props (3)
  • Left Winger (11)
  • Second Row (4)
  • Inside Centre (12)
  • Second Row (5)
  • Outside Centre (13)
  • Blindside Flanker (6)
  • Right Winger (14)
  • Openside Flanker (7)
  • Fullback (15)
  • The Number 8 (8)



The forwards are eight players positioned upfront to win possession and advance the ball in a match. Due to their responsibility, they are usually stronger and quicker. The forward pack is grouped into the front row, second row, flankers, and the number 8, occupying positions numbered 1 to 8. This set of players often shapes the team’s performance as they build up attacks and create defensive dominance for the team. Let us take a closer look at each forward position and their roles.

The Props (Loosehead and Tighthead)

The Loosehead and Tighthead props, called the number 1 and 3, comprise the front row of the attack. Since the two players here support the Hooker (the 3rd player in the front row), they are usually extremely strong. They possess strong necks, upper bodies, and legs. 

Further, the Props lay the Scrum foundation and can engage in tackles, lineout lifting, rucking, or ball carrying. While the Loosehead Prop might be a more technical player and less physically strong, the Tighthead Prop’s stronghold is his strength. However, being strong all-round is a plus to the team, as many believe there are no victories without the scrum.

The Hooker

The Hooker completes and controls the front row of the forwards, making the position ideal for a great decision-maker. Given the number 2 and positioned between the props, their main aim is to help the team win possession during scrums. They are quite good at timing, lineout throws, and open play.

Despite being flanked by two Props, Hookers need to be strong, quick, good with their hands, and excellent at passing. Aside from accurate hooking and passing, being a terrific ball carrier is another useful skill of a great Hooker.

The Locks/Second Row

Two players numbered 4 and 5 make up the Locks, and they are positioned right behind the front row of the forwards. The players in this position are the targets of the front row during scrums and, therefore, need to be tall and strong. Another essential attribute of a Lock is the jump power.

Further, they are often regarded as the powerhouse of scrums and vital when a team has set pieces. Locks also need to have outstanding techniques and timing while trying to get the ball, and their compactness is required if they wish to dominate the scrum. Some refer to them as the Tower of Power, and modern Locks often partake in open plays, support play, and even tackle.

Flankers/Wing Forward 

Flankers are also called Wing Forwards and comprise the number 6 and 7 players. They form the back row of the forwards (alongside the number 8), and their skills are all-round. A Flanker can either be an Openside or Blindside Flanker, with the former excellent at mobility and the latter physically strong.

Meanwhile, Wing Forwards are quick at running, strong, fit, and excellent at tackling and handling balls. While they are not always at the center, they help the team win possession during ruck and mauls, collect balls from tackled teammates, and are great at short passes. The ability to steal possession during rucks is another strength of Flankers.

Number Eight

The number 8 position completes the back row of the attack, and it is occupied by a player who works alongside the wing forwards to support play, tackle, and carry the ball. They often link the front row and the defender during offensive play. They are allowed to pick up the ball from the scrum base, and their strength is usually their ball-carrying ability, dynamic running, and excellent handling.


The Backs is the second unit in a rugby team and accommodates seven players with positions 9 to 15. In sizes, backs are usually smaller, but this made them quicker, enabling them to help the team create scoring chances and also score. Also, the backs are better at kicking and handling balls, helping them score. However, they also have defensive duties to perform in the team. The following are the back positions in Rugby.


The Scrum-half has the number 9, and the position connects both forwards and backs, making the player very vital. To be an excellent Scrum-Half, a player must be swift, agile, vocal, and have perfect support play. While they are mostly smaller than other players, they are often found in the attacks, acting as one of the leaders in the team. Scrum-halves are great at distributing balls from breakdowns and set pieces. They also control where the ball goes during attacking plays, and their excellent vision, awareness, fast reaction, and pace make it easy.


The Fly-half is another vital position in a Rugby team and is regarded as the heartbeat of a team. Wearing the number 10, the player in this position is also called the Stand-off and is usually very skillful. They possess excellent vision, passes, kicks, and the ability to control the team. 

These attributes enable them to organize the defense, fill in any gap in the defense, and start attacks with their kicks. The fly half relieves pressure by averting opposition attacks, and they are usually chosen as the team piece takers for drop goals, conversions, and penalties.

The Centres

The Inside Center and Outside Center respectively occupy the number 12 and 13 positions in a Rugby team. The two are called Centers, and the partners usually break opposition lines and search for gaps in the opposition’s defense. These roles make the vision and physical strengths must-have skills for the centers.

They breach the opposition’s defense and lure defenders away for their teammates with their direct line runs during attacks. While defending, they are excellent tacklers. Aside from their dynamic runs and strategic play, Inside centers have more creativity and passing skills, while Outside Centers are usually faster with ball-offloading skills.


The numbers 13 and 14 position wingers at the right and left edges of the field. They come in varying sizes and possess lightning speed, which helps them contribute to attacks and defense. Due to their pace, these sprinters bear the responsibility of scoring.

Also, wingers defend, and they sometimes end up being the last line of defense, making their defensive skills vital. Since they will be receiving aerial balls during attacks, they need to be dominant in the air as well.


Fullback is the last man in the Backs unit, which makes the player the last line of defense. The player wearing the number 15 jersey is expected to contribute to both defense and attacks. While preventing opposition from scoring via tackles, they also utilize good positioning to retrieve the ball and start counterattacks. Fullbacks are expected to possess solid defensive prowess, excellent positioning, adequate attacking instincts, and swiftness.

Scoring in Rugby: Types and Point 

There are four ways to score in the sport, with a specific amount of points attributed to each according to style. Luckily, we have explained the four scoring styles below.

  1. Try
  2. Conversion
  3. Penalty Kick
  4. Drop Goal


A try is the most popular way to score in a rugby game, and this attracts 5 points. To score a try, an attacking player must ground the ball over the opponent’s goal line in the opponent’s in-goal area. This form of scoring offers another chance of gaining additional points if they succeed in kicking a conversion immediately after scoring a try. 


Conversion is another style of scoring in Rugby, and it adds 2 points to the attacking team’s score. After scoring a try, the team is awarded a conversion, and the player takes a kick from a point that can be close or far from the opposition’s try-line, based on their choice.

Penalty Kick

In rugby, when a foul is committed, the referee gives a penalty. The attacking team can choose to take it short and continue the play or kick it above the opposition crossbar and within the upright. Three points are awarded when the penalty kicker successfully puts the ball within the upright.

Drop Goal

Drop Goals are the fourth scoring style, and they attract 3 points. This occurs when a player drops the ball and kicks it as a volley between the opponents upright. Since it can be tricky, not all players try this style of scoring.


  • Are Rugby Union and Rugby League positioning the same?

The positioning in the Rugby Union and Rugby League are different, and this is because the number of players varies. While 15 players start in a Rugby Union match, only 13 players start in Rugby League games.

  • What body governs the affairs of the Rugby Union?

The Rugby World, established in 1886, governs the Rugby Union and is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland.

  • What Rugby tournaments are the most thrilling in the world?

Rugby has many top tournaments, but the Rugby World Cup is highly contested, making it thrilling. You will also find the Six Nations Championship, the Rugby Championship, the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, and the British and Irish Lions Tour exciting.


With the different players having varying roles in a Rugby match, it is essential to note that teamwork matters a lot if a team is going to win. In this article, we have explained the player positions and responsibilities, and we believe that the next time you see a rugby game, you won’t be confused. We further explained the scoring styles and their point to make Rugby easier to follow. While you enjoy the sport, you can check our site for more educational articles.

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