THE FRONT ROW (UNION)

The role of both the loose- and tighthead props is to support the hooker in the scrum and to provide effective, dynamic support for the jumpers in the line-out. Props are provide the main power in the push forward in the scrum, and it is for this reason that they need to be exceptionally strong. Under modern rules non-specialists are not allowed to play as props as they are key to making sure that the scrum does not collapse, which can be very dangerous.

THE PROPS:

The tighthead prop is so called because they pack down on the right-hand side of the scrum and so their head fits between the opposing loosehead prop and hooker. In contrast, the loosehead prop packs down on the left-hand side where their head is outside that of the opposing tighthead prop. Although it may look to the neutral observer that the two positions are quite similar (and some players have the ability to play on both sides of the scrum), the technical challenges of each are quite different.

 

The laws of the game require the tighthead prop to bind with his right arm outside the left upper arm of his opposing loosehead prop and similarly they restrict what the loosehead prop can do with his left arm. Although the scrum half may put the ball in on either side of the scrum, he is unlikely to choose the tighthead side because otherwise the opposing hooker would be between him and his own hooker. Hence, the laws implicitly require the loosehead prop to be on the left side of the scrum.

Props are also in the position of being able to direct the movement of the scrum in moving side to side to prevent the other teams scrum from "wheeling" the set scrum and forcing another "put in" from the opposing side

THE HOOKER:

Uses his feet to 'hook' the ball in the scrum, because of the pressure put on the body by the scrum it is considered to be one of the most dangerous positions to play. They also normally throw the ball in at line-outs, partly because they are normally the shortest of the forwards. When line-outs go wrong the hooker is often made a scapegoat even though the fault may actually lie with the jumpers. Hookers have more in common with back row forwards than props or locks as they have a roving role at line-outs and do not push as much in the scrum as other front row forwards.

 

SECOND ROW or LOCK:

If you're tall, powerful and have the ability of catching anything that comes your way, the second row could be just for you. As well as providing power for the big push in the scrum, the second row are the big targets in the line-out.

Their duty is to catch the hooker's throw and get the ball to the scrum-half. So you need to be able to leap like a high jumper and have hands like glue.

Expect to make plenty of tackles and help your fellow forwards out in rucks and mauls

 

Locks are almost always the tallest players on the team and so are the primary targets at line-outs. At line-outs, locks must jump aggressively to catch the ball and get it to the scrum half or at least get the first touch so that the ball comes down on their own side.

The two locks stick their heads between the two props and the hooker in the scrums. They are also responsible for keeping the scrum square and provide the power to shift it forward. (This position is referred to as the "engine room".)

Locks are normally tall, very athletic and have an excellent standing jump along with good strength. They also make good ball carriers, bashing holes in the defence around the ruck and maul.

THE BACKROW

The modern-day flanker is an all-round athlete, combing speed, power and skill into one position. The openside flanker is usually a slightly different build from their partner, the blindside flanker. They are smaller in size, making them more mobile around the pitch. One of their main roles is to win ball from the opposition, which means battling for possession at rucks and breakdowns.

 

 

 

The openside flanker

Will often be the player with the responsibility to mark the other side's fly-half. They do this by quickly closing them down, reducing the time they have to kick or pass. Because of their tackle count, flankers are always involved in rucks or mauls either at the bottom or making the big drives.

The blindside flanker

Tends to be bigger than their team-mate, the openside flanker. They have a more physical role and are often a target for the hooker in the line-out. They get through a large amount of tackles and are often regarded as the "invisible" player because of the work they get through.

The number 8

Is the player who controls the ball at the back of the scrum. They have a similar role to the flanker in terms of getting through the hard work of tackling, rucking and mauling. Number eights need to have explosive pace and power, especially when the scrums are near the opposition's tryline. They are also a potential target for the hooker in the line-out.

The players with the fewest set responsibilities and therefore the position where the player should have all round attributes: speed, strength, fitness, and handling skills, are the Flankers. They are always involved in the game, as they are the real ball winners in broken play, especially the no. 7.