No.1 Loose Head Prop
As with the 2nd row the front rows main responsibility is the scrum and the line out. The loose head prop is so called because when he lines up in the scrum his head is loose because there is only a head on his left hand side of his. A big strong power man the loose head does not generally see much of the ball, because most his time is spent scrummaging his opposition tight head in the scrum and in the loose he's nearly always rucking.
The hooker traditionally was a fat disgruntle old man who had tattoos on his arms and a can of beer in hand. Nowadays however the hooker is a technically difficult position played by fit rugged players who have to have a degree in astrophysics to understand.
The hooker throws into the line out and has to, therefore know and make the line out calls in the match. These can leave him open to a lot of stick if the line out goes badly but he often wins the plaudits if things go well.
No.3 Tight Head Prop
As with the 2nd row the front rows main responsibility is the scrum and the line out. The tight head prop is so called because when he lines up in the scrum his head is tight because there is a head either side of his. A big strong power man the tight head does not generally see much of the ball, because most his time is spent scrummaging his opposition loose head in the scrum and in the loose he's nearly always rucking.
No.4 & 5 2nd Row
The main function of the lock is the line out. The locks are nearly always the jumpers, and so (along with the hooker) their responsibility to get good clean ball to the half backs. The number 4 is normally larger than the number 5 and usually jumps and the front of the line out whereas the number 5 generally takes the ball in the middle of the line out.
No.6 Blind Side Flanker
The misunderstood child. The No.6 is often thought of as the easiest position in the game, this is defiantly not true. The blind side flanker has to have the strength of a number 8 and the scavenging skills of an open side flanker. He also has to time his runs to perfection and be just off the shoulder to burst into the space and carry the ball well.
No.7 Open Side Flanker
The Scavenger. The open side flanker is the hardest working player on the pitch; he has to be everywhere all the time. When a tackle brings the player to the ground there's a split second before the situation becomes a ruck, at which point the ball can be taken from the floor using his hands. This is the sole job of the number 7 in defence – to create turnovers -, in attack the open side should be on the shoulder of the player with the ball – all the time!
No.8 Number 8
The number 8 is a very important position. The number 8 is responsible for getting his team over the gain line and supplying clean ball for the half backs.
A skilful forward the 8 should be able to move the ball around with as much conviction as the fly half, but should also be big and powerful as a ball carrier taking the ball into contact creating space for those around him.
In the scrum the 8 is responsible for the ball and his relationship with the scrum half can be the difference between a win and a loss
No.9 Scrum Half
The other half back (with the fly half) the scrum half's primary job is to get the ball to the fly half as quickly a possible and a good of a pass as possible. However a willingness to put his body on the line for his team, a 'nuggety' tackling technique and an ability to carry the ball like an extra flanker help a lot giving the team more options.
No.10 Fly Half
Possibly the most important position on the pitch, if you don't like pressure then this isn't for you. The fly half has to run the attack, organise the defence and kick to relieve pressure.
The fly half is the head of directing traffic as he has to move the ball to where the space is and if there isn't any then he must give the ball to a forward to make space. Nearly always the first receiver from a set piece and ruck or maul a good catcher of the ball is an absolute must.
No.12 Inside Centre
The creative flanker, the inside centre plays as a secondary play-maker to the fly half, but is also required to have some 'brick wall' defence and have a big hard line run.
A long pass is a bonus, but a good rugby brain is the main requirement for this position, a knowledge as what to do in any situation.
No.13 Outside Centre
Slightly different to the inside centre the outside centre needs more pace and power as well as good hands. The Outside Centre will normally aim to get on the outside of his outside number and either go round him or step inside leaving him for dead.
A linchpin in whatever moves the backline is playing.
No.11 & 14 Wingers
The Wingers are positions on the flanks of the team (see diagram). Traditionally the try scorers the wingers have to be fast so they can run around the opposition defence to score. In defence they have to be able to get back to cover the full back if he is out of position. They have to be a solid tackler in case they are exposed by the opposition winger with no support.
However despite these difficulties the wingers as 'finishers' of the team's hard work will always get the glory if the team goes well, whilst being well away from any criticism thrown at the team after a bad performance.
No.15 Full Back
The full back is an immensely important position; the full back is the last line of defence if a player breaks through, a potent attacking weapon, and a solid kicker.
The full back traditionally is a kicker, however nowadays a greater demand is present for a full back who can run with the ball as well as kick and tackle well.