Rugby teams

Know and understand more about rugby teams. Where, how and what role you play. What you need. Where best - forwards or backs?

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Make-up of the team

Forward play

Forward play in scrums

Forward play in lineouts

General forward play

Back play

Half-back play

Make-up of the team

Rugby teams have players of all shapes and sizes. The different positions tend to require different physical characteristics and abilities so it should be easy to find a position that seems just right for you.

A team is 15 players plus substitutes/replacements and two teams are needed for a game. There are modified versions for 7 players (rugby sevens) and 10 players (rugby tens).

The team can be split roughly into two groups - "forwards" and backs".

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Forward play

There are 8 forwards in a team and they tend to be the bigger players.

A range of work is done by the forwards as a whole, so many different physical attributes, skills and qualities are needed within the group.

Forwards tend to stay together in attack, picking the ball off the ground and /or using short passes as they attempt to move the ball towards the opposition try line.

You also take part in contests for the ball know as scrums and line-outs.

When defending, you take on the opposition forwards trying to prevent them from moving the ball towards your try line.

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Forward play in scrums

Scrums are contests for possession of the ball, used to restart the game after minor infringements of the rules.

As a forward your bulk, strength and scrummaging skills are needed to give stability and power in the struggle for the ball.

This is the main function of the 3 members of the "front row", a "prop" on either side with a "hooker" between them.

They are assisted by the 2 in the "second row", known as "locks" and the single player who is in the third (or back) row but called the "number eight" (the number on the shirt).

This group within rugby teams (minus the number 8) is called the "tight five" because you are the five players in the scrum bound tightly together.

Two additional players (called flankers) bind to the side of the scrum. As a flanker you give additional weight and power for pushing the opposition off the ball.

You must also be strong, fast and determined because you break rapidly from the scrum and chase the ball.

If the ball has gone to the opposition you chase and tackle to regain possession.

If the ball has been retained you chase in support of the attack and to maintain possession.

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Forward play in lineouts

A lineout is used to restart play when the ball goes out of the field of play by crossing the touch line at the side of the field.

Your height, strength, coordination and athletic ability are required in rugby teams if you are one of the jumpers in the lineouts. You jump and are helped into the air (by lifters). When the ball is "thrown in" from the touch-line you catch the ball or deflect it to another player.

Jumpers in rugby teams will usually be the same players who fill the second row in the scrum. Another name for second rowers is lock forward

The hooker (who is also the middle player of the front row of the scrum) usually throws the ball, so you must be capable of mastering that part of the game.

If the opposition is throwing in the ball, the hooker guards the 5 metre area between the front of the lineout and "touch" to prevent any attacks in this area.

Strength and bulk are required to throw the jumpers into the air and to prevent opposition forwards breaking through the lineout.

You will fill this lifting and supporting role if you are one of the props, the players who pack into the front row of the scrum on either side of the hooker.

Flankers or the number 8 sometimes provide an alternative target for the thrower, usually positioned towards the back of the line-out.

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General forward play

In general play the forwards combine loosely, marauding as a co-operative pack.

You need strength, bulk and mobility to combine and when necessary to support each other and to spread out and protect ground when that`s required.

In attack you use your strength and power to drive the ball forward, attempting to break through the opposition or at least engage and tire as much of the opposition as possible before releasing the ball to the backs.

In defence forwards must tackle the ball carrier relentlessly to prevent the opposition from breaking through. At the same time you must attempt to regain possession.

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Back play

There are 7 backs in a rugby team. They tend to be smaller than the forwards, but it can be hard to tell unless you look at the numbers on their shirts!

The backs don`t take part in scrums and line-outs.

As a rugby back you are one of the players spread across the field behind the contest for possession.

You are virtually a spectator, waiting to see who gains possession. Depending on who wins the ball, you either attack or defend your own position on the field.

The backs tend to be speedier and more agile than the forwards.

Some backs are elusive but more tend to use their size to batter and barge their way past the opposition. Being elusive is a very useful advantage.

The backs tend to have a wider range of skills than the forwards. You need to be able to catch and pass, especially at speed. All backs also need to tackle well.

As a back, you pass the ball a great deal. The idea is to move the ball about quickly until it ends up being carried by a player who is facing a weakness of some sort in the opposition defences.

The weakness may be by getting your fast player against a slower player or a player out of position, not defending the piece of ground they should be.

It could also be by getting your elusive player into a good position or by creating an "overlap" - a situation where one defender is facing two attackers.

If you move the ball quickly enough and in the right directions you will eventually break through the defence and score.

Excluding half-backs, players in the "backs" group are two "centres", two "wingers" and a fullback.

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Half-back play

A subgroup of the backs is the half-backs.

It`s made up of the scrum half and the fly half (also called the five-eighth or outside half).

If you are one of these players you have a vital role and require good skills and great confidence.

The scrum-half is the link between the forwards and the rest of the backs.

The fly-half is the play maker of the team, deciding on and arranging both attack and defence

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So there you are, a quick view of rugby teams.

Where do you want to play?

Find out about all players in the team when you go to rugby positions.