Rugby league positions

A rugby league team consists of thirteen players on the field, with four substitutes on the bench. Each of the thirteen players is assigned a position, normally with a standardised number, which reflects their role in attack and defence, although players can take up any position at any time.

Players are divided into two general types, forwards and backs. Forwards are generally chosen for their size and strength. They are expected to run with the ball, to attack, and to make tackles. Forwards are required to improve the team's field position thus creating space and time for the backs. Backs are usually smaller and faster, though a big, fast player can be of advantage in the backs. Their roles require speed and ball-playing skills, rather than just strength, to take advantage of the field position gained by the forwards. Typically forwards tend to operate in the centre of the field, while backs operate nearer to the touch-lines, where more space can usually be found.

Names and numbering

The diagram, right, shows the typical positions of each player during a scrum (not to scale).

The laws of the game recognise standardised numbering of positions. The starting side normally wear the numbers corresponding to their positions, only changing in the case of substitutions and position shifts during the game. In some competitions, such as Super League, players receive a squad number to use all season, no matter what positions they play in.

The positions and the numbers are defined by the game's laws as:[1][2][3][4]

  • 1 Full Back
  • 2 Right Wing Threequarter
  • 3 Right Centre Threequarter
  • 4 Left Centre Threequarter
  • 5 Left Wing Threequarter
  • 6 Stand-off Half or Five-eighth
  • 7 Scrum Half or Halfback
  • 8 Prop
  • 9 Hooker
  • 10 Front Row Forward
  • 11 Second Row Forward
  • 12 Second Row Forward
  • 13 Lock Forward

In practice, the term 'front row forward' is very rarely used, and a team has two props. The scrum half is often known as the half back, especially in Australasia, and the lock forward is usually known as loose forward in England.


There are seven backs, numbered 1 to 7. For these positions, the emphasis is on speed and ball-handling skills.[5] Generally, the "back-line" consists of smaller, more agile players.[6]


Numbered 1, the fullback's primary role is the last line of defence, standing behind the main line of defenders. Defensively, fullbacks must be able to chase and tackle any player who breaks the first line of defence, and must be able to catch and return kicks made by the attacking side. Their role in attack is usually as a support player, and they are often used to come into the line to create an overlap in attack. Fullbacks that feature in their respective nations' rugby league halls of fame are France's Puig Aubert, Australia's Clive Churchill and Billy Slater, Charles Fraser, Graeme Langlands and Graham Eadie, Great Britain/Wales' Jim Sullivan and New Zealand's Des White.


There are four threequarters: two wingers and two centres - right wing (2), right centre (3), left centre (4) and left wing (5). Typically these players work in pairs, with one winger and one centre occupying each side of the field.


Also known as wingers. There are two wings in a rugby league team, numbered 2 and 5. They are usually positioned closest to the touch-line on each side of the field. They are generally among the fastest players in a team, with the speed to exploit space that is created for them and finish an attacking move. In defence their primary role is to mark their opposing wingers, and they are also usually required to catch and return kicks made by an attacking team, often dropping behind the defensive line to help the fullback. Wingers that feature in their nations' rugby league halls of fame are Great Britain's Billy Batten, Billy Boston and Clive Sullivan, Australia's Brian Bevan, John Ferguson, Ken Irvine, Harold Horder and Brian Carlson, South African Tom van Vollenhoven and France's Raymond Contrastin


There are two centres, right and left, numbered 3 and 4 respectively. They are usually positioned just inside the wingers and are typically the second-closest players to the touch-line on each side of the field. In attack their primary role is to provide an attacking threat out wide and as such they often need to be some of the fastest players on the pitch, often providing the pass for their winger to finish off a move. In defence, they are expected to mark their opposite centre. Centres that feature in their countries' halls of fame are France's Max Rousié, England's Eric Ashton, Harold Wagstaff and Neil Fox, Wales' Gus Risman and Australia's Reg Gasnier, H "Dally" Messenger, Dave Brown, Jim Craig, Bob Fulton and Mal Meninga.


There are two halves. Positioned more centrally in attack, beside or behind the forwards, they direct the ball and are usually the team's main play-makers, and as such are typically required to be the most skillful and intelligent players on the team. These players also usually perform most tactical kicking for their team.

Stand Off / Five-eighth

Numbered 6, the stand off or five-eighth is usually a strong passer and runner, while also being agile. Often this player is referred to as "second receiver", as in attacking situations they are typically the second player to receive the ball (after the half back) and are then able to initiate an attacking move. Star players of this position include Wally Lewis, Darren Lockyer, Bob Fulton, Brad Fittler, Laurie Daley and Terry Lamb

Scrum Half / Half back

Numbered 7, the scrum-half or half back is usually involved in directing the team's play. The position is sometimes referred to as "first receiver", as half backs are often the first to receive the ball from the dummy-half after a play-the-ball. This makes them important decision-makers in attack.


A rugby league forward pack consists of six players who tend to be bigger and stronger than backs, and generally rely more on their strength and size to fulfill their roles than play-making skills. The forwards also traditionally formed and contested scrums, however in the modern game it is largely immaterial which players pack down in the scrum. Despite this, forwards are still referred to by the position they would traditionally take in the scrum.

The front row

The front row of the scrum traditionally included the hooker with the two props on either side. All three may be referred to as front-rowers, but this term is now most commonly just used as a colloquialism to refer to the props.


The hooker or rake, numbered 9, traditionally packs in the middle of the scrum's front row. The position is named because of the traditional role of "hooking" the ball back with the foot when it enters the scrum. It is usually the hooker who plays in the dummy-half position, receiving the ball from the play-the-ball and continuing the team's attack by passing the ball to a teammate or by running with the ball. As such, hookers are required to be reliable passers and often possess a similar skill-set to half backs.


There are two props, numbered 8 and 10, who pack into the front row of the scrum on either side of the hooker. Sometimes called "bookends" in Australasia,[7] the props are often the largest and heaviest players on a team. In attack, their size and strength means that they are primarily used for running directly into the defensive line, as a kind of "battering ram" to simply gain metres.[8] Similarly, props are relied upon to defend against such running from the opposition's forwards. Prop forwards that feature in their respective nations' rugby league halls of fame are Australia's Arthur Beetson, Duncan Hall, Frank Burge and Herb Steinohrt and New Zealand's Cliff Johnson.

The back row

Three forwards make up the back row of the scrum; two-second-rowers and a loose forward. All three may be referred to as back-rowers.

Second-row forward

Second-row forwards are numbered 11 and 12. While their responsibilities are similar in many ways to the props, these players typically possess more speed and agility and take up a wider position in attack and defence. Often each second rower will cover a specific side of the field, working in unison with their respective centre and winger. Second rowers are often relied upon to perform large numbers of tackles in defence. Second-row forwards that feature in their nations' halls of fame include New Zealand's Mark Graham, Australia's Norm Provan, George Treweek and Harry Bath, France's Jean Galia, and Great Britain & England's Martin Hodgson.

Loose forward / Lock forward

Numbered 13, the loose forward or lock forward packs behind the two-second-rows in the scrum. Some teams choose to simply deploy a third prop in the loose forward position, while other teams use a more skilful player as an additional playmaker. Loose forwards that feature in their nations' halls of fame include Australia's Ron Coote, John Raper and Wally Prigg, Great Britain's Vince Karalius, Ellery Hanley and 'Rocky' Turner, and New Zealand's Charlie Seeling.


In addition to the thirteen on-field players, there are a maximum of four substitute players who start the game on their team's bench. Usually, they will be numbered 14, 15, 16 and 17. Each player normally keeps their number for the whole game, regardless of which position they play in. That is, if player number 14 replaces the fullback, he will wear the number 14 for the whole game, and not change shirts to display the number 1.

The rules governing if and when a replacement can be used have varied over the history of the game; currently they can be used for any reason by their coach – typically because of injury, to manage fatigue, for tactical reasons or due to poor performance. Under current rules, players who have been substituted are typically allowed to be substituted back into the game later on. Leagues in different countries have had different rules on how many interchanges can be made in a game. the Super League allows up to ten interchanges per team in each game, this is to be reduced to eight interchanges per team per game, commencing in the 2019 season. Commencing in the 2016 season, Australia's National Rugby League permits up to eight interchanges per team per game. Additionally, if a player is injured due to foul play and an opposition player is put on "report" then his team is given a free interchange.

Often an interchange bench will include at least one (and usually two) replacement props, as it is generally considered to be the most physically taxing position and these players are likely to tire the quickest.


As well as their positions, players' roles may be referred to by a range of other terms.


Following a tackle, the defending team may position two players – known as markers – at the play-the-ball to stand, one behind the other facing the tackled player and the attacking team's dummy-half.

Dummy half

The dummy half or acting half back is the player who stands behind the play-the-ball and collects the ball, before passing, running or kicking the ball. The hooker has become almost synonymous with the dummy half role. However, any player of any position can play the role at any time and this often happens during a game, particularly when the hooker is the player tackled.

First receiver

The first receiver is the name given to the first player to receive the ball off the play-the-ball, i.e. from the dummy-half.[9]

Second receiver

If the ball is passed immediately by the first receiver, then the player catching it is sometimes referred to as the second receiver.


A player who can play in a number of different positions is often referred to as a "utility player", "utility forward", or "utility back".


Although any player can attempt his team's kicks at goal (penalty kicks or conversions), most teams have specific players who train extensively at kicking, and often use only one player to take goal kicks during a game.


The captain is the on-field leader of a team and a point of contact between the referee and a team, and can be a player of any position. Some of the captain's responsibilities are stipulated in the laws.

Before a match, the two teams' captains toss a coin with the referee. The captain that wins the toss can decide to kick off or can choose which end of the field to defend. The captain that loses the toss then takes the other of the alternatives.[10]:11

The captain is often seen as responsible for a team's discipline. When a team persistently breaks the laws, the referee while issuing a caution will often speak with the team's captain to encourage them to improve their team's discipline.[10]:38, 42

The captains are also traditionally responsible for appointing a substitute should a player suffer an injury during a game, although in the professional game there are other procedures in place for dealing with this.[10]:41

See also


  1. ^
    • Rugby League - Laws of the Game (PDF). Rugby Football League. 2013. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
    • The International Laws of the Game and Notes on the Laws (PDF). Australian Rugby League. 2013. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  2. ^ "Rugby League Laws of the Game International Level with Notes on the Laws and NRL Telstra Premiership Interpretations (Approved By the Australian Rugby League Commission) Official February 2018" (PDF). 31 December 2018. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  3. ^ "Laws of the Game". 27 June 2016. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  4. ^ "International Laws of the Game with Notes on the Laws (Approved By the Rugby League International Federation)" (PDF). 12 April 2018. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  5. ^ Gott, Robert (2013). Football Codes: Rugby League. Australia: Macmillan Education. p. 12.
  6. ^ Hickey, Julia (2006). Understanding Rugby League. UK: Coachwise. ISBN 9781905540105.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Lane, Daniel (15 May 2011). "Why the ball-playing behemoth has become passe". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15 May 2011.
  9. ^ Spillane, Debbie (17 April 1993). "No face balls in red zone". The Sun-Herald. Sydney. p. 54. Retrieved 6 October 2009.
  10. ^ a b c RLIF (2004). The International Laws of the Game and Notes on the Laws (PDF). Rugby League International Federation. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 January 2010. Retrieved 30 July 2008.
American football positions

In American football each team has 11 players on the field at one time. The specific role that a player takes on the field is called their position. Under the modern rules of American football, teams are allowed unlimited substitutions; that is, teams may change any number of players after any play. This has resulted in the development of three "platoons" of players: the offense (the team with the ball, which is trying to score), the defense (the team trying to prevent the other team from scoring, and to take the ball from them), and the special teams (who play in kicking situations). Within those platoons, various specific positions exist depending on what each player's main job is.


Five-eighth or Stand-off is one of the positions in a rugby league football team. Wearing jersey number 6, this player is one of the two half backs in a team, partnering the scrum-half. Sometimes known as the pivot or second receiver, in a traditional attacking 'back-line' (№ 1-7). play the five-eighth would receive the ball from the scrum half, who is the first receiver of the ball from the dummy-half or hooker following a tackle.

The role of the five-eighth is often to pass the ball away from the congested area around the tackle, further out along the 'back-line' to the outside backs, the centres and wingers, who have more space to run with it. Furthermore, players in this position typically assume responsibility for kicking the ball for field position in general play. The five-eighth is therefore considered one of the most important positions, often referred to as a 'play maker', assuming a decision-making role on the field. Over time, however, as the game has evolved, the roles of the two halves have grown more aligned and difficult to distinguish. Along with other key positions - fullback, hooker and scrum half - the five-eighth makes up what is known as a team's spine.One book published in 1996 stated that in senior rugby league, the five-eighth and hooker handled the ball more often than any other position.The Rugby League International Federation's Laws of the Game state that the "Stand-off half or Five-eighth" is to be numbered 6. However, traditionally players' jersey numbers have varied, and in the modern Super League, each squad's players are assigned individual numbers regardless of position.

Football positions

Football positions may refer to:

American football positions

Association football positions

Australian rules football positions

Rugby league positions

Rugby union positions

Fullback (rugby league)

Fullback (or full-back) is one of the positions in a rugby league football team. Typically wearing jersey number 1, the fullback is a member of the team's 'back-line' (No. 1-7). The position's name comes from their duty of standing the furthest back in defence, behind the forwards (8-13), half backs (6 and 7) and the three-quarter backs (2-5). Fullbacks are therefore the last line of defence, having to tackle any opposition players and regather the ball from any kicks that make it through their teammates. It is for this reason that the fullback is also referred to as the sweeper or custodian. Being able to secure high bomb kicks is a highly sought quality in fullbacks.Fullback is also one of the most important positions in attack, handling the ball nearly every set of six and often running into open space on the field. Therefore, together with the two half backs and hooker, fullback is one of the four key positions that make up what is referred to as a team's 'spine'. Because the fullback makes the most support runs, players in the role complete more very high-intensity running than any other position.The Rugby League International Federation's Laws of the Game state that the 'fullback' is to be numbered 1. However, traditionally players' jersey numbers have varied, and in the modern Super League, each squad's players are assigned individual numbers regardless of position.

Hooker (rugby league)

Hooker is one of the positions in a rugby league football team. Usually wearing jersey number 9, the hooker is one of the team's forwards. During scrums the hooker plays in the front row, and the position's name comes from their role of 'hooking' or 'raking' the ball back with the foot. For this reason the hooker is sometimes referred to as the rake.

Hookers have a great deal of contact with the ball, as they usually play the role of acting halfback or dummy half, picking the ball up from the play-the-ball that follows a tackle. Hookers therefore have a lot of responsibility in that they then decide what to do with the ball, whether that be to pass it (and to whom), run with it, or occasionally to kick it. Therefore, together with the two half backs and fullback, hooker is one of the four key positions that make up what is sometimes called a team's 'spine'. A trend of halfbacks converting into hookers followed the introduction of the 10 metre rule, and many players have switched between these positions in their careers such as Geoff Toovey, Andrew Johns, Craig Gower and Peter Wallace.

The laws of rugby league state that the hooker is to be numbered 9. However, in some leagues, such as Super League, players can wear jersey numbers which do not have to conform to this system.

One book published in 1996 stated that in senior rugby league, the hooker and stand-off/five-eighth handled the ball more often than any other position. In the 2013 NRL season the top six players with the most tackles were all hookers.

Loose forward

Loose forward may refer to playing positions in both rugby football sports:

Rugby league positions, in rugby league football

Rugby union positions, in rugby union football


Pivot may refer to:

Pivot, the point of rotation in a lever system

More generally, the center point of any rotational system

Pivot joint, a kind of joint between bones in the body

Pivot turn, a dance move

Rugby football

Rugby refers to the team sports rugby league and rugby union, but generally refers to rugby union due to its popularity throughout the globe.Legend claims that rugby football was started about 1845 in Rugby School, Rugby, Warwickshire, England, although forms of football in which the ball was carried and tossed date to medieval times. Rugby eventually split into two sports in 1895 when twenty-one amateur clubs split from the original Rugby Football Union, to form the Northern Rugby Football Union (NRFU)/Northern Union (later to be named rugby league in 1922) in the George Hotel, Huddersfield, Northern England over broken-time payments to players who took time off work to play the sport, thus making rugby league the first code to turn professional and pay players. It was 100 years later in 1995, following the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa that rugby union would turn fully professional. Both sports are run by their respective world governing bodies World Rugby (rugby union) and the Rugby League International Federation (rugby league). Rugby football was one of many versions of football played at English public schools in the 19th century. Although rugby league initially used rugby union rules, they are now wholly separate sports. In addition to these two codes, both American and Canadian football evolved from rugby football.

Rugby football positions

Rugby football positions may refer to:

Rugby league positions

Rugby union positions

South London Storm Academy

The South London Storm Academy is the youth team set-up for South London Storm rugby league club. It is for players aged 16 to 18 and was established in May 2008 in association with the Jack Petchey Foundation.

South London Thunderbirds

South London Thunderbirds are a girls junior Rugby league club based in the London Borough of Croydon. They form part of South London Storm's junior structure.

Tackle (football move)

Most forms of football have a move known as a tackle. The primary and important purposes of tackling are to dispossess an opponent of the ball, to stop the player from gaining ground towards goal or to stop them from carrying out what they intend.

The word is used in some contact variations of football to describe the act of physically holding or wrestling a player to the ground. In others, it simply describes one or more methods of contesting for possession of the ball. It can therefore be used as both a defensive or attacking move.

Thornton Heath Tornadoes

Thornton Heath Tornadoes are a junior Rugby league club based in the London Borough of Croydon. They form part of South London Storms junior structure.

Three-quarter back

Three-quarter back is the back-line positions of wing or centre in either rugby league or rugby union.

Todd Polglase

Todd Polglase, born 21 March 1981 is an Australian former professional rugby league footballer. He played for the Canterbury Bulldogs, South Sydney Rabbitohs and Newcastle Knights as full-back and [[Rugby_league_positions#Centre

Wandsworth Whirlwinds

Wandsworth Whirlwinds are a junior and academy Rugby league club based in the London Borough of Wandsworth. They form part of South London Storm's junior structure.

Winger (sports)

In certain sports, such as football, field hockey, ice hockey, handball, rugby union, lacrosse and rugby league, winger is a position. It refers to positions on the extreme left and right sides of the pitch, or playing field (the "wings"). In American football and Canadian football, the analogous position is the wide receiver. Wingers often try to use pace to exploit extra space available on the flanks that can be made available by their teammates dominating the centre ground. They must be wary however of not crossing the touchline, or sidelines, and going out of play. In sports where the main method of scoring involves attacking a small goal (by whatever name) in the centre of the field, a common tactic is to cross the ball to a central teammate.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.