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Player & Field Positions

Position Numbering & Terminology

A rugby team or "side" consists of between fifteen (15) and twenty two (22) players.  A maximum of any fifteen players per team are allowed on the pitch at any one time during a match.

The starting fifteen are conventionally numbered 1 through 15, the numbers (usually displayed on the players' jerseys) denoting the players' positions on the field.  

Players are often called by their jersey numbers or the field positions they play.  The two tables below display the conventional numbers alongside the corresponding field positions for the forwards and backs.  Some positions are universally known by only one name, such as the Full Back (who wears jersey # 15).  Other positions have more than one name.  The Fly Half (jersey # 10) is also known as an "out half", "stand-off half, or "1st five-eighth".  Moreover, these position titles tend to be regional; for example, 1st and 2nd five-eighth are the preferred terms for the #10 and #12 players in the Southern Hemisphere - especially New Zealand.

Group titles are often applied to specific combinations of players; the most obvious and well known being the eponymous "Scrum" comprising the eight forwards who take part in scrums.

Forwards 1 - 8

Players numbered 1 - 8 are known as "forwards" and are typically the larger, stronger players of the team whose main job is to win possession of the ball.  The scrum is comprised of the eight forwards.

Forwards
# Position AKA
#1 Loose-head Prop - left left prop
prop-forward
Front Row Tight Five The "Pack" or "Scrum"
#2 Hooker  
#3 Tight-head Prop - right right prop
prop-forward
#4 Lock - left lock-forward 2nd Row
#5 Lock - right lock-forward
#6 Flanker - blind-side or left wing forward
flank forward
Back Row Loose Three
"loosies"
#7 Flanker - open-side or right wing forward
flank forward
#8 Number 8 "eight man"

  

Backs 9 - 15

Players numbered 9 - 15 are referred to as "backs" and tend to be the smaller, faster and more agile players.  Their main role is to exploit possession of the ball that is won by the forwards

Backs
# Position AKA
#9 Scrum half half back
inside half
"nine"
Half Backs
#10 Fly half out-half
stand-off half
1st five-eighth
#12 Inside center first center
2nd five-eighth
left center
 
#13 Outside center 2nd center
right center
center three-quarter
 
#11 Left wing winger
wing three-quarter
Back Three
#14 Right wing winger
wing three-quarter
#15 Full back  

  

Substitutes 16 - 22

#16 through #22

Players numbered 16 through 22 are substitutes.  Once a player is substituted, he or she may not return to play in that match.