How Many Players In A Rugby Team?

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Written By Hutch

If you are pondering the number of players participating on each team during a rugby match, you just stumbled on the right article. We will provide the needed information on the number of players on each team and how you can recognize them.

How many players are there in a rugby league team?

Though there are 15 in-play players in a standard rugby union team, the rugby 7s edition comprises only seven in-play players on each team. Also, rugby league comprises 13 in-play players. Positions in rugby remain the same regardless of the team, but there are slight variations on the 7s; they often feature loose forwards or backs due to the fast pace of their games.

Rugby is a game with several differences in the requirements for each team member’s role. Thus, every position requires a unique set of abilities and physique. The structure makes the game more accessible, as every position matches different body types.

Below, we have outlined the primary positions in standard  rugby union teams:

PositionNumber Range
The Backs7

The primary positions in rugby league teams and their subdivisions:

PositionNumber Range
The Backs7

The primary positions in rugby 7s team and their subdivisions:

The Backs4


These players are mostly in charge of scoring the tries and leading the attack. They form the maul and line-out and lead the formation of a scrum after minor infringements that require restarting the playing session. Though the term ‘forwards’ represents a playing position in rugby, it covers other subsidiary positions spread across eight players.

  • The Front Row

The front rows are the leading attackers. This section consists of three players; the Loosehead prop (No.1), the Hooker (No.2), and the Tighthead prop (No.3).

The Loosehead props, otherwise known as the ‘number 1s,’ often lead the team at the forward-most left, helping in roles like striking the ball for the hooker and following game tactics to put pressure on the opposing attacks. At the same time, the hooker leads the middle attacking position.

Those occupying the hooker position are often in charge of throwing the ball during the line-out and also using foot strikes at the scrum to regain possession. A hooker ought to be very active, as they have several responsibilities involving physicality, just like the other front-row players.

Though all front-row players are often bigger, the Tighthead naturally needs to be bigger than the Loosehead, as they position in-between the opposing hooker and Loosehead, with the sole aim of resisting pressure from the opposing Loosehead.

  • The Back Row

The back row in the forward position in rugby consists of five players: the Open Flanker (No. 6), Left and Right Locks (No. 4 & 5), the Blind flanker (No. 7), and the Number 8. These second-row forward players operate more like midfielders, often linking with the defensive line and assisting the front-row players with tackles and other tasks to create attacking opportunities. The left and right locks often back up the front row and change positions to confuse the opponents and win possession in strategic moments of the game.

Blind flankers are often aggressive and must be fast to secure the shorter side of the field and provide the front-row players with good balls. They operate similarly to the open flankers who protect the longer side of the field. These players all work slightly ahead of the number 8 on the field, who operate at the last line of the forward players, carrying out explosive tackles, controlling the ball, and positioning at the back of the scrum.

The Backs

In rugby, the backs are the players who make up the defensive team and who are tasked with denying the opposing attackers the chance to score touchdowns. The backs are usually smaller than the forwards in size but often faster. Their task is to recover possession, pass the ball, and cross the field in order to make passes to the forward players. There are seven players who fall under the defensive line, having two subdivisions as that of the forwards, too.

  • Half-Backs

The Half-Backs consist of two players: the Scrum Half (No.9) and the Fly Half (No. 10). These guys operate on the center point and control the game’s pace with good vision and effective team communication.

  • Three-quarters

The three-quarters in rugby include number twelve, the inside center; number thirteen, the outside center; number eleven, the left wing; and number 14, the right wing. These players chase after the ball, defend along the wings, and kick the ball into the opponent’s half. In most instances, they are defensive and sometimes participate in scoring points for the team.

  • Full-back

The full-back is the last person on a rugby team, often wearing the number 15 jersey. These players control the last line and operate like the goalkeepers in soccer.

Difference Between 7s & 15s In Rugby

For proper reference purposes, below is a table outlining the core differences between 7s and 15s in rugby and rugby 13s:

There are seven players on each team (3 forwards and 4 backs).There are 15 players on each team (8 forwards and 7 backs).There are 13 players on each team (6 forwards and 7 backs).
Each game features two 7-minute halves.Each game features two 40-minute halves.Each game features two 40-minute halves.


Who is the main kicker at a critical point for a rugby team?

The number ten position, ‘Fly Half,’ is typically the main kicker for most rugby teams.

How many points does a try make in rugby?

You earn five points when you run across the field and touch down on the end zone of the rugby field.

What number of substitutions is allowed in a rugby union match?

There are a total of eight substitutes allowed in a rugby union match.

Final Words

Rugby comes in various forms that satisfy varied target populations with different teams and layouts. However, a typical rugby union side has 15 players. Hence, it is the official number in the world of rugby. The earlier section of this article has covered the positions of teams and their interrelations. It will enhance your understanding of any variation of rugby regardless of the number of players involved.

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