Rugby positions are identified on the field by number, ranging from 1 to 15. Each position has a different name and role on the field, however every position can be categorized as either a back or a forward.
Forwards (numbers 1-8) - more physical work on attack through running crash balls and rucking. Also engage in the scrums and lineouts that occur after a penalty or the ball goes out of bounds. Tackling is generally in closer quarters, not as much open field.
Backs (numbers 9-15) - require more speed and skill play (passing, running plays, etc.) on attack. When defending they generally are involved in one-on-one tackling, usually matching up with the opposing player in their same position.
Positions by Number
1. "Loose Head" Prop - front line of the scrum, left hand side. Props require a lot of strength to create the initial drive when engaging. Need to be able to hold a strong squat position to create a powerful stance in the front line.
2. Hooker - front line of the scrum, middle position. Responsible for "hooking" the ball back to your team when the ball is inserted into the middle of a scrum. Need quick reflexes for hooking in a scrum. Hookers also are typically the player that throws the ball back into play from the sideline during a lineout, so throwing skills (similar to throwing a soccer ball back into play) are also important.
3. "Tight Head" Prop - front line of the scrum, right hand side. Props require a lot of strength to create the initial drive when engaging. Need to be able to hold a strong squat position to create a powerful stance in the front line.
4 and 5. Locks/Second Rows - the middle of the scrum and where the most power comes from. Requires a lot of leg and core strength in order to hold the scrum up and help prevent it from collapsing.
6 and 7. Flankers - loosely bound onto the second rows on the outer sides of the scrum. Requires speed and strength to be able to release from the scrum quickly and tackle an attacking player when the ball is considered out of the scrum.
8. Eight Man - bound onto both second rows at the very back of the scrum. Responsible for keeping the ball in the scrum when attacking so the scrumhalf and backs have time to set up before making a play. Also responsible for keeping the second rows tightly bound together, a leadership position in the scrum.
9. Scrumhalf - the liaison between the backs and forwards, connects both realms together. Most similar to a quarterback in football, helps the flyhalf direct where players go. Takes the ball out of the scrum and rucks to resume play, maintain possession, and keep the ball moving. Requires endurance and speed to keep up with the flow of play and make it to every breakdown quickly. Also requires passing and decision making skills.
10. Flyhalf - speedy leadership position of the backs. First receiver of the ball in the back line. Directs traffic and calls the plays on the field.
11. Left Wing - back player located on the left hand sideline, runs "weak side" plays where there is not as much traffic. Responsible for a lot of one-on-one tackling and defending the sideline. Fills in for the full back behind traffic when that space is left open.
12. Inside Centre - second receiver of the ball after the flyhalf. Generally speedy and able to evade tackles. Also requires passing and decision making skills. Defensively required to make one-on-one tackles.
13. Outside Centre - third receiver of the ball after the inside centre. Also requires speed and evading skills. Defensively performs one-on-one tackling.
14. Right Wing - final receiver of the ball in the back line after the outside centre. Defender of the right sideline and required to make one-on-one tackles. Like the left wing, fills in for the full back when the space behind traffic is open.
15. Full back - located behind the traffic, like a safety in football. The last line of defense, responsible for open field one-on-one tackling. Also responsible for returning kicks in the middle of play by catching the ball and running it back to make up for the yards lost. Requires endurance, speed, and open field tackling skills.