10 Rugby Positions & Roles Explained (Chart) (2024)

In the gritty ballet of rugby, every player is both warrior and strategist, with a unique battlefield to dominate.

From the burly Prop to the swift Fullback, each role is a crucial cog in a well-oiled machine.

Charge into the fray with us as we tackle the intricacies of rugby positions.

  • The Prop is rugby’s powerhouse, the front-line force in the scrum, providing stability and strength.
  • The Hooker is the scrum’s linchpin, deftly striking the ball and steering the pack.
  • The Lock (or Second Row) serves as the towering giant, securing the ball in lineouts and acting as the team’s primary jumper.
  • The Flanker is the relentless hunter, a balance of strength and speed, harrying the opposition’s movements.
  • The Number Eight is the back-row boss, a blend of power and agility, leading the charge from the scrum’s rear.
  • The Scrum-Half is the team’s spark plug, a nimble distributor of the ball and a key strategist.
  • The Fly-Half is rugby’s field marshal, guiding the team with tactical kicks and split-second decisions.
  • The Center (Inside and Outside) are the midfield maestros, offering a mix of brute force and slick passing.
  • The Wing (Left and Right) are the fleet-footed finishers, outrunning defenders to touch down for glory.
  • The Fullback is the last line of defense and the counter-attacking visionary, reading the play to launch assaults from the backfield.
10 Rugby Positions & Roles Explained (Chart) (1)

10 Rugby Positions & Roles Explained (Chart) (2)

Table of Contents

  • Forwards:
    • #1 Prop
    • #2 Hooker
    • #3 Lock (or Second Row)
    • #4 Flanker
    • #5 Number Eight
  • Backs:
    • #6 Scrum-Half
    • #7 Fly-Half
    • #8 Center (Inside and Outside)
    • #9 Wing (Left and Right)
    • #10 Fullback
  • Hybrid Positions
    • Utility Back
    • Flanker-Lock Hybrid
    • Hooker-Prop Hybrid
    • Fullback-Wing Hybrid
  • FAQ
    • What are the positions and roles in Rugby?
    • How do I choose a position in Rugby?
    • What Rugby positions are for beginners?
  • Conclusion


#1 Prop

  • 🏆 Renowned players: Joe Marler, Tendai Mtawarira, and Owen Franks

The Prop’s role in offense is to provide stability in the scrum, securing the ball for their team, as well as supporting the Hooker in securing clean ball from line-outs. They also contribute to phase play with short carries and cleaning out rucks.

On defense, Props are tasked with making strong tackles near the breakdown area and countering the opposition’s scrum. They aim to disrupt the opponent’s set-piece plays and contribute to maintaining a strong defensive line around the ruck and maul situations.

Key Characteristics or Skills:

  • Physical strength and power.
  • Excellent technique in scrummaging.
  • Strong tackling abilities.
  • A high work rate to maintain a presence around the pitch.

#2 Hooker

  • 🏆 Renowned players: Dane Coles, Malcolm Marx, and Keith Wood

In offensive play, the Hooker is responsible for throwing in the ball during line-outs and winning the ball in scrums. They often act as a link between the forwards and backs, capable of carrying the ball effectively and securing possession in rucks.

Defensively, the Hooker defends around the fringes of rucks and mauls, and they provide a formidable presence in defensive line-outs. It’s their responsibility to contest for possession and tackle aggressively to disrupt the opponent’s play.

Key Characteristics or Skills:

  • Accurate throwing skills for line-outs.
  • Agility combined with strength.
  • Excellent tackle technique.
  • Good ball-handling skills.

#3 Lock (or Second Row)

  • 🏆 Renowned players: Maro Itoje, Brodie Retallick, and Eben Etzebeth

In offensive play, Locks are vital in the line-out, often being the primary jumpers to win possession. They provide power in the scrum and are important ball carriers, especially in tight situations to gain hard yards.

Defensively, Locks are tasked with disrupting the opponent’s line-out and providing a strong push in the scrum. They are also expected to put in a significant number of tackles, particularly around the maul and breakdown area, to halt the momentum of opposing forwards.

Key Characteristics or Skills:

  • Height and jumping ability for line-outs.
  • Strength and power for scrummaging and ruck clearing.
  • Engine to keep working throughout the match.
  • Good handling skills for tight carries.

#4 Flanker

  • 🏆 Renowned players: Richie McCaw, Michael Hooper, and Peter O’Mahony

Offensively, Flankers support the backline, often running in support or as decoys. They excel at securing possession at the breakdown and are usually the first to arrive at the ruck, where they can either clean out opposition players or pick and go.

Defensively, Flankers are the heart of the defensive system, often responsible for covering wide channels and tackling ball carriers. They work to win turnovers at the breakdown, using their speed and agility to make reads and poach the ball.

Key Characteristics or Skills:

  • Speed and agility to cover grounds.
  • Exceptional breakdown skills to win turnovers.
  • Endurance and work rate to maintain involvement.
  • Strong tackling and the ability to contest the ball ferociously.

#5 Number Eight

  • 🏆 Renowned players: Kieran Read, Sergio Parisse, and Taulupe Faletau

On offense, the Number Eight is often the key ball carrier from the base of the scrum, able to link up with the backs or crash through the defensive line. They provide a strong option at the back of the line-out and are involved in supporting play around the field.

Defensively, the Number Eight covers the back of the scrum and is involved heavily in tackling and ruck defense. Their positioning allows them to cover breaks and support the backline in defense against opposition kicks.

Key Characteristics or Skills:

  • Combination of size, power, and ball-handling skills.
  • Ability to carry effectively and gain meters.
  • High level of fitness and positional awareness.
  • Strong defensive skills and the ability to challenge for the ball.


#6 Scrum-Half

  • 🏆 Renowned players: Joost van der Westhuizen, Aaron Smith, and Gareth Edwards

The Scrum-Half is key in offense, serving as the primary distributor of the ball from rucks, mauls, and scrums. They dictate the tempo of play with quick decision-making and often exploit gaps around the fringes.

Defensively, the Scrum-Half is tasked with organizing the defensive line around the breakdown and can also make crucial tackles, especially on opposition scrum-halves and forward runners.

Key Characteristics or Skills:

  • Speedy service and sharp passing skills.
  • Strategic thinking and quick decision-making.
  • Defensive awareness and agility.
  • Good communication to direct teammates.

#7 Fly-Half

  • 🏆 Renowned players: Dan Carter, Johnny Wilkinson, and Beauden Barrett

The Fly-Half orchestrates the offense, often deciding whether to move the ball wide, kick for territory, or take on the defensive line themselves. They must have excellent tactical awareness and the ability to direct play seamlessly.

Defensively, Fly-Halves are responsible for organizing the defense, contributing to tackling, and fielding opposition kicks. Although not always the first line of defense, they must be able to hold their own in physical confrontations.

Key Characteristics or Skills:

  • Superb kicking skills for points and field position.
  • Great vision and game management abilities.
  • Handling skills and attacking creativity.
  • Good defensive positioning and tackling technique.

#8 Center (Inside and Outside)

  • 🏆 Renowned players (Inside): Ma’a Nonu, Jamie Roberts, and Phillipe Sella
  • 🏆 Renowned players (Outside): Brian O’Driscoll, Conrad Smith, and Jeremy Guscott

Centers on offense are involved in both creating and finishing scoring opportunities, being strong runners and crucial links in passing movements. The Inside Center is more likely to crash through, whereas the Outside Center uses speed and agility to break the line.

On defense, Centers are tasked with making key tackles and shutting down opposition attacks, often through strong reads and aggressive challenges. They need to communicate effectively to maintain the defensive line integrity.

Key Characteristics or Skills:

  • Combination of speed, power, and handling ability.
  • Good decision-making under pressure.
  • Robust tackling and defensive organization skills.
  • Ability to read the game and anticipate plays.

#9 Wing (Left and Right)

  • 🏆 Renowned players: Jonah Lomu, Bryan Habana, and Shane Williams

Wings are the finishers in attack, using their speed to exploit space and finish off scoring opportunities. They also provide options for tactical kicking and can create opportunities through individual brilliance.

Defensively, Wings cover the far channels and are tasked with defending against opposition kicks and wide attacking plays. They must be quick and agile to prevent breaks and support the team in counter-attacks.

Key Characteristics or Skills:

  • Speed and finishing ability.
  • Strong under the high ball and in one-on-one situations.
  • Good communication and positional sense.
  • Defensive anticipation and tackling in open space.

#10 Fullback

  • 🏆 Renowned players: Serge Blanco, Christian Cullen, and Israel Folau

Fullbacks are the last line of defense, often fielding opposition kicks and countering with runs or tactical kicks of their own. They join the offensive line as an additional player, providing an extra passing option.

Defensively, Fullbacks need to anticipate play, cover deep space, and make crucial tackles. They are often involved in defending against opposition breaks and counter-attacking moves.

Key Characteristics or Skills:

  • Great kicking skills and strategic placement.
  • Ability to read the game from deep.
  • Consistent high-ball catching ability.
  • Speed, agility, and the ability to counter-attack effectively.

Hybrid Positions

Utility Back

Utility Backs can play multiple backline positions, offering adaptability in ball distribution, kicking, and decision-making, vital for covering injuries or strategic shifts during a game.

Flanker-Lock Hybrid

Flanker-Lock Hybrids possess the lineout expertise of Locks with the mobility and breakdown skills of Flankers, giving a team greater versatility in forward play.

Hooker-Prop Hybrid

A Hooker-Prop Hybrid combines the scrummaging power and size of a Prop with the Hooker’s lineout throwing and mobility, useful for teams embracing a more fluid scrum setup.

Fullback-Wing Hybrid

Combining the speed and finishing ability of a Wing with the positional sense and kicking skills of a Fullback, this hybrid is strategically flexible in attack and defense.

10 Rugby Positions & Roles Explained (Chart) (3)


What are the positions and roles in Rugby?

The forwards and backs are the Rugby positions and roles, each divided into eight forwards (props, hooker, locks, flankers, and number eight) and seven backs (scrum-half, fly-half, centers, wingers, and fullback) with specialized functions in the team.

How do I choose a position in Rugby?

Assessing your physical attributes, skills, and understanding of the game is how you choose a position in Rugby. Trial and feedback from coaches can also help determine the best fit.

What Rugby positions are for beginners?

Winger and Fullback are the best Rugby positions for beginners, as they allow new players to get involved with fewer technical responsibilities while they learn the broader aspects of the game.


Rugby’s complexity stems from its diverse positions, each vital for team success.

The forward pack, with roles like Props and Locks, brings power and strategy, while the backline, including Fly-Halves and Fullbacks, offers speed and tactics.

Understanding these roles reveals rugby’s intricacies and the coordination needed for victory.

The sport’s evolution has led to players developing more dynamic skills, enhancing its tactical depth.

Together, these varied positions form rugby’s core, uniting to navigate the challenges of this storied game with skill and teamwork.

Each position has its significance, just as every coach has their unique strategy to lead their team to victory, detailed in our guide on the best rugby coaches.

10 Rugby Positions & Roles Explained (Chart) (2024)
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