A rugby team is divided into forwards and backs. Forwards are usually the larger, stronger players on the team (numbered one to eight). Their main job is to win possession of the ball. The backs are often smaller, faster, and more agile and typically make use of the ball possessions, which are won by the forwards.Both the forwards and backs play at the same time.
The loosehead prop packs down in the scrum on the left-hand side and together with the tighthead prop provides support for the hooker. They also support the jumpers in the lineout.
Example - Wyatt Crockett
The hooker packs down in the middle of the scrum, uses their feet to "hook" the ball and normally throw in the ball at lineouts.
Example - Keven Mealamu
The tighthead prop packs down in the scrum on the right-hand side and together with the loosehead prop provides support for the hooker. They also support the jumpers in the lineout.
Example - Owen Franks
The locks are usually the tallest players and are required to jump in lineouts to catch the ball or get the ball down on their team’s own side.
Example - Luke Romano
In the scrum, locks pack down in the second row and bind on to each other and the prop in front of them. They add a lot of power to the scrum.
Example - Samuel Whitelock
The blindside flanker binds onto the side of the scrum closest to the sideline. Their first priority is to be part of the loose forwards strong defensive screen and be part of the lifting unit or a jumper in lineouts.
Example - Liam Messam
The openside flanker binds onto the side of the scrum furthest from the sideline. Their main priority is to be first to the ball when a breakdown occurs and provide a strong defensive screen.
Example - Sam Cane
The number 8 packs down at the back of the scrum usually binding onto the two locks and controls the movements and feeding of the ball to the halfback. The number 8 is in the position where the ball enters the backline from the scrum and can elect to pick and run with the ball.
Example - Kieran Read
The halfback is the important link between the forwards and the backs and is behind the scrum to get the ball out and maintain movement. They are also able to stand close to the lineout to catch any knock-downs from the jumpers.
Example - Aaron Smith
The 1st 5/8 makes tactical decisions during the game, on whether to kick the ball to gain space or tactical advantage or move the ball to their outside backs, or to run with the ball themselves. The 1st 5/8 is, in most cases, also the goal-kicker.
Example - Daniel Carter
The left winger is often one of the fastest players on the field and often scores the tries. They must also be good tacklers when defending.
Example - Julian Savea
The 2nd 5/8 is positioned outside the 1st 5/8 and inside the centre in a standard backline formation. They are often used to carry the ball up to either straighten the attack or set a platform from which to launch another attacking phase. Has to be a good tackler as opposition attack will often come their way.
Example - Ma’a Nonu
The centre is positioned outside the 2nd 5/8 and inside the wing in a standard backline formation. Their role is to provide time and space for the winger outside them.
Example - Conrad Smith
The right winger is one of the fastest players on the field. They are often on the end of attacking moves, therefore need to be good finishers. They also need to support the fullback and catch high balls when the ball is kicked to their side of the field.
Example - Ben Smith
The fullback is often referred to as the "last line of defence" and is positioned behind all their teammates. They often catch high balls, return kicks from the opposition and act as an extra player on attack.
Example - Israel Dagg