In a traditional game of rugby, there are fifteen players on both teams; eight forwards and seven backs.

rugby positions 1
Image from http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/rugby_union/rules_and_equipment/6332057.stm

The forwards, numbers 1 through 8, are typically the bigger players who scrum, do line outs, and the bulk of the tackling.  The only time time the positions have a specific task are in scrums.

1 and 3 are the two props.  In a scrum, they provide the driving power and support the hook.

scrum sled demonstration 1

2 is the hook, who is supported in the middle between the two props, tries to rake back the ball with her feet to get it to her team’s scrumhalf.  The hook also jumps during a line out.  This is the position I hope to play in the upcoming season.

4 and 5 are the locks.  They provide stability and extra power to the scrum.

rugby scrum 2

6 and 7 are the flankers and are located on the outsides of the scrum.  Their job is to, as soon as the ball is out, run up and tackle the scrumhalf (or whoever has the ball).

8 is the eighth-man.  She goes behind the locks and adds extra weight to the push.  She also controls the direction of the scrum.

9 is the scrum half, and can be considered a forward or a back.  This position can be considered the quarterback of rugby, and is the most mentally demanding position on the team.  She decides where the ball will go and what play to do.  Only the scrum half can pick up the ball from the ground (unless they have been tackled, where you will hear “scrummy in”).

The back line, numbers 10 through 15, are are the quick ones who do more passing and score a majority of the tries.

back line 1

10 is the fly half and communicates with the scrum half to decide what the back line does.

11 and 14 are the wings.  They stay on the very edges of the field and tackle the other team or get them out of bounds when they try to run past that way.

12 and 13 are the inside and outside center, respectively.  They run and pass the ball in an attempt to get the ball to the other side of the field and score a try.

15 is the full back.  She stays far behind the back line and keeps an eye on where the game is going and communicates that to her team.  She also is there to catch the ball if the other team kicks it.