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Master the Positions for Players in a Rugby Team for an Enjoyable Game Time

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You might find the number of rugby players in a team overwhelming if you aren’t used to watching the game. This might leave you confused about their roles and how the game works. Additionally, the sport also has variations, for example, rugby 7s and the 15s, which might be another source of confusion. 

That said, the core principles of both events are similar but have subtle differences. In this post so we’ll give you a proper breakdown that’ll help you enjoy the game.

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How Many Players Are in a Rugby Union Team?

There are 15 players in a rugby team who take to the field and an additional eight who sit on the bench as substitutes. Each player holds one of the 15 positions on the field and has a different role.

Before we explain the different types of roles in a rugby team, it’s worth noting that the team is composed of eight players in forwarding positions and seven at the back. That stated, we now explain to you what every position does. 

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Rugby Positions

Rugby positions explained. Video Credit: Officially Active

Full Back

With the number 15 on the jersey, the player is responsible for guarding the defence of the team as the last line of defence. During the game, they also pop up in different positions as the game goes on. One crucial skill that any fullback in a rugby union team needs to have is accurate kicking. Whenever the ball gets to them, they need to kick it further up the field.

Left/Right Wing

You’ll spot a left-field player with the number 11 on the jersey and a right-wing player with a 14. The roles of these two are similar, except that they are on opposite sides of the field. 

Rugby players occupying these roles are expected to be speedy and have stamina as they make a lot of runs from their side to the opponents. Also, they are expected to score tries. 

Inside/Outside Center

A rugby player positioning the ball. Source: Photo by Nevin Verochan

These two play a similar role. The inside center is more focused on providing straight attacking runs and having the ability to create scoring chances while the outside center is more focused on progressing the ball forward, usually by making runs outside – away from the center.

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Also referred to as the five-eight or outside half, they are the chief decision-makers on the pitch. If you play the fly-half position, you’ll be expected to assess the options the team has, be able to carry the ball well, have good ball-kicking technique, be able to cover for any defensive lapses, have speed and agility and more. 

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How a scrum half plays. Video Credit: The Dummy Runner

A scrum half links up play between players at the back and front. In this position, the team expects you to either pass the ball to a fly-half, kick it to the box, run with the ball or give it to a forward, depending on the situation at play. 

Some scrum halves are able to score tries by nipping through the opponent from outside whilst others maintain the usual style.

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Number 8

Drills for number 8. Video Credit: KD Rugby Coaching

If you occupy this position in your team, you are expected to lead the forwards from the back and be an effective ball carrier and runner. Whenever there’s a scrum, the number 8 has to be ready to get the ball from behind and this is where running comes into play as they have the chance to break down play and provide attacking opportunities to the forward unit.   


Flankers in action. Video Credit: World Rugby

They are responsible for delaying an opponent’s attack and winning possession for their team. For this reason, they need to be where the ball is constantly. This requires an incredible amount of stamina, speed and strength to extract the ball from the opponent.


Also named the second rowers, locks are the tallest players in a rugby team as they catch the ball in the lineout. Also, they are very integral during a scrum. They make sure it stays steady and block out opponents who are after the ball. 

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The props lift the locks to help them gain possession as well as support the scrum.  


How hookers play in rugby. Video Credit: Andrew Forde

The hooker is heavily involved in a scrum. They are locked in the middle of their team and the opposition. Their role is to win the ball by kicking it to a teammate at the back of the scrum. 

We hope that this article helps you understand how a rugby team functions and the number of players involved. Next time you attend a match or watch on telly, you will know what’s going on and not get dazed because of the number of people moving on your screen.

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Agnes Amondi
Agnes Amondi
Agnes Amondi is a sports enthusiast who enjoys sharing sports knowledge. Over the years, she has also written on different niches, and she now brings that experience at Spotcovery. She writes sports content and also, Arts & Culture, Recipe, Beauty and more.


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