Rugby League Positions – Backs, Forwards, and Interchange (2023)

Rugby League Positions – Backs, Forwards, and Interchange (1)

Hi Guys… Are you a ruby fan? Do you know there are positions in Rugby League? If you are searching for these questions, then you are on the right page. Here in this post, we are providing you complete details of Rugby League Positions.

Rugby League Positions – Backs, Forwards, and Interchange (2)

Rugby is a famous sport and it is watched by many people across the world. Rugby League was founded on September 7, 1895. A rugby league football consists of 13 players on the field, with 4 substitutes on the bench. The players are divided into two general categories: “forwards” and “backs”. The rules of the game apply to all players in the same way.

Forwards in the game are generally chosen for their size and strength. Forwards in the game are expected to run with the ball and attack, and to make many tackles. They are required to do a lot of hard work such as making openings for the backs and gaining meters in field position. Backs in the game are usually smaller and faster, though a big player who can run can be of advantage in the backs. The roles of the backs require speed and ball-playing skills, rather than just strength, to take advantage of the field position gained by the forwards.

Rugby League Positions

Rugby League Positions – Backs, Forwards, and Interchange (3)

Names and Numbering

The numbering of positions in rugby is standardized. The starting side normally wears the numbers corresponding to their positions, only changing in case of substitutions and position shifts during the game. In some competitions, such as Super League, players are issued with a squad number to use all season, no matter what positions they play in.

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The positions and numbers are defined by the game’s laws as:


1 .Full back

  1. Right Wing Threequarter

3 .Right Centre Threequarter

  1. Left Centre Threequarter

5 .Right Centre Threequarter


  1. Stand-Off Half or Five-Eighth

7 . Scrum Half or Half-Back

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  1. Prop
  2. Hooker
  3. Prop
  4. Second Row Forward
  5. Second Row Forward
  6. Loose Forward or Lock Forward


Generally the back line of the game consists of smaller and faster players. The term outside backs is sometimes referring to the centers and wings, while the halves refer to the halfback and five-eighth.


This position is numbered 1, it calls for all-around ball-playing ability and speed. The fullback is the last line of defense, standing behind the main line of defenders. Fullbacks must be able to chase and tackle any player who breaks the first line of defense, and must be able to catch kicks made by the attacking side. Their role in attack is usually as a support player but also come into the line to create an extra man in attack.

The Three-quarters

The three-quarters are also known as outside backs and consist of the wings and centers. The three-quarters are placed closer to the edges of the field.


They are also known as wingers. There are actually only 2 wingers in a rugby league team, they are numbered 2 and 5, and are positioned around the fullback. The wingers are generally among the strongest players in a team, with the muscle to defend the fullback. They generally are among the strongest players in a team, with the muscle to defend the fullback. The wingers have to be able to kill someone if they have to.


In rugby there are 2 centers, right and left and they are numbered 3 and 4 respectively. They are positioned outside the halves and inside the wings. They are usually medium sized. Or, as is now common place are large, fast with good footwork and an offload to pass to their wingers.

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The Halves

There are 2 half backs – the stand-off half back numbered 6 and the scrum half back, numbered 7. They are positioned more centrally in attack, near the forwards, they direct the ball in attack and are usually 2 of their team’s main decision-makers.


The stand-off or five-eight is numbered 6 and is usually responsible for directing the ball to the rest of the tam in attack and is often a strong kicker. A good stand-off in a rugby should be a quick thinker and to be able to direct his team around the park.

Scrum half

The scrum half is numbered 7 and is also known as half back. This position is usually involved in directing his team’s play and is likely to be a very good passer. This position is sometimes also called as first receiver because half backs are often positioned so as to be the first to receive the football from the dummy-half after a play-the-ball. Scrum halves are often short and fast over a short distance and should also be very capable handlers of the ball.


In rugby league forward pack consists of players and they tend to be bigger and stronger than backs, generally forwards depend more on their strength to fulfill their roles than play-making skills. The forward players also form and contest scrums, while the backs stay out of them.

The Front Row

In rugby the front row of the scrum includes the hooker with the 2 props on either side. All three may be referred to as front-rowers, but this team is most commonly just used for prop forwards.



The hooker is numbered 9, packs in the middle of the scrum’s front row. A hooker is, strong and fast. Good hookers are fast from the play the ball which always the team to get on the front foot. Usually it is the hooker’s responsibility to operate at the dummy half position, starting the play by passing the ball to a team mate or by running himself. This can lead to a penalty, good field position or even a try.


There are two props, numbered 8 and 10, who pack in to the front row of the scrum on either side of the hooker. The props are often the two heaviest players on a team. Primarily, in attack their size and strength are utilized for running directly into the defensive line, as a kind of battering ram to simply gain meters. Similarly, props are relied upon to defend against such running from the opposition’s forwards.

The Back Row

The back row is made up by three forwards of the scrum. They include 2 second-rowers and a loose forward or lock forward. These all 3 may be referred to as back-rowers.

Second-row Forward

These are numbers 11 and 12, and they make up the second row of the scrum. They support the front rowers while attacking. They are either used as wide-running forwards to help create room for the quicker men due to their size or as endurance athletes who can play an entire game at a consistent level in the middle of the field. The second-row forward are nicknamed as tackling machines.

Loose Forward

They are numbered 13 and they are also known as lock pads behind the two second-rows in the scrum. From an attacking scrum they will sometimes pick the ball up themselves and run or pass. Many locks nowadays are used as a third ball player due to their ball playing skills as well as their size which they can use to break through the defense. It is customary in the NRL for each team to have a member of the back-row who can ball-play. Some notable professional locks have also played at five-eighth, as the roles can be similar.

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A maximum of 4 interchange players are allowed, who start the game on their team’s bench. It is mandatory to see 3 forwards and either a utility or replacement hooker on the bench however not all teams do this. The rules governing if and when a replacement can be used have varied over the history of the game; currently they may replace any injured player or be used for a tactical substitution by their coach. Under the rules of the National Rugby League 10 interchanges are permitted per team, every game. However, if a player is deemed to have been injured due to foul play then the team is given a free interchange.

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  • Rugby League Positions
  • Names and Numbering
  • Backs
  • Halves
  • Forwards
  • Backs
  • Fullback
  • The Three-quarters
  • Wing
  • Center
  • The Halves
  • Stand-off
  • Scrum half
  • Forwards
  • The Front Row
  • Hooker
  • Prop
  • The Back Row
  • Second-row Forward
  • Loose Forward
  • Interchange


How many interchanges do you get in rugby league? ›

Substitutes 2. (a) Each team may nominate a maximum of four replacements before the start of the game. Their names along with those of the players must be given to the referee before the start of the game. A maximum of eight interchanges will be allowed from the 17 named players.

How does interchange work in rugby league? ›

Interchange (14, 15, 16, 17)

If a player is injured or just not playing well enough, they can be replaced by a substitute, called an interchange. Each team has four interchange replacements to choose from and can they come on at anytime during the game.

Does rugby league have forwards and backs? ›

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.

What does 5 8 mean in rugby? ›

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' (No.

How many replacements can you make in rugby? ›

In international rugby there are eight replacements on the bench and at least three of these must be front-row specialists. Eddie Jones likes to call them finishers, other coaches term them game changers and some tag them impact players.

How many forwards are there in rugby league? ›

Each Rugby League team has 13 players & 4 substitutes available at any time in the game. Each team is made up of 7 'backs' and 6 'forwards'.

What is the difference between forwards and backs in rugby union? ›

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.

What is the link between forwards and backs in rugby union? ›

The scrum-half is the link between the forwards and the backs. They receive the ball from the line-out and remove the ball from the back of the scrum, usually passing it to the fly-half.

Can you pass forward in rugby league? ›

A player must not intentionally throw or pass the ball forward,” reads the law, with the specific definition of 'forward' being “towards the opposition's dead-ball line”.

Is rugby league tougher than NFL? ›

Like Richard said, American football has more rest, more pads and a helmet which means they can hit harder for sure. But, when you look at the frequency of hits in rugby, the number of impacts per game, the distances run in a game and other factors. Rugby definitely comes out as the tougher sport to play.

Why are forward rugby players heavier than backs? ›

The forwards are bigger and heavier than the backs so they can work their way up the field to score tries.

How do you become a good fullback in rugby league? ›

What makes a good rugby fullback? To succeed as a rugby fullback at a high level, you must have good positional skills, an ability to stay cool under pressure and supreme confidence under the high ball. On top of this, the best fullbacks in the world also possess the ability to: Kick the up and under effectively.

What is a 3 4 in rugby? ›

A three-quarter back, the right wing wears the number 14 on the back of his jersey and positions himself on the right side of the backs; he is expected to score a significant number of tries. This position is usually held by one of the fastest players in the team.

What does 7 mean in rugby? ›

Rugby sevens is so called because it features teams of seven players. Originally called seven-a-side rugby when it was first played in Melrose, Scotland in 1883, the name has since been abbreviated to rugby sevens, or just sevens.

What do 12 and 13 do in rugby? ›

Centers: #12 and #13

These are the two running backs of the team. #12 is called the inside center and is a very hard and powerful runner on offense and loves to tackle. Inside centers are used for the short tough running game of rugby like a fullback in football. #13 is the outside center.

Why do you get 6 again in rugby league? ›

The NRL has confirmed a significant change to the controversial six-again rule for the 2022 season. According to, instead of a set-restart, a penalty will be awarded if a team commits a ruck infringement or has a player or players inside the 10 metres while “inside the 40 metre zone of the team in possession”.

Do rugby players get new jerseys every game? ›

The common practice after most Test rugby matches is for each player to get two jerseys. One is for them to swap, if they choose, and the others is to hang onto or present to a proud family member, friend, fan or charity.

Can two people tackle in rugby? ›

Even if he has support close by, a two-man tackle can create an excellent turnover opportunity. If the tacklers can knock the ball carrier back, you will have forward momentum even in defence.

What is the lock position in rugby? ›

A lock is a position in rugby that requires a player to be strong and have good ball handling skills. They are usually the smallest players on the field, which makes them hard to hit and very difficult to knock over.

How many of the 15 players are considered forwards? ›

The make-up of 15s and sevens teams are different: in 15s rugby there are eight 'forwards' and seven 'backs' and in sevens there are three forwards and four backs.

How many forwards are there on each team? ›


Most teams have two strikers. Usually one forward stays just behind the last defender (i.e. in an on-side position), while the other forward is stationed to assist, as well as score. There are three types of forwards: Center Forward: The center forward typically scores the most goals on a team.

Are flankers forwards or backs? ›

Flanker is a position in the sport of rugby union. Each team of 15 players includes two flankers, who play in the forwards, and are generally classified as either blindside or openside flankers, numbers 6 and 7 respectively. The name comes from their position in a scrum in which they 'flank' each set of forwards.

Do you have to throw backwards in rugby? ›

For years, that was the standard that many in rugby used, and World Rugby Laws still appear to support that simplistic reading of the rule. Law 11.7 states: “A player must not intentionally throw or pass the ball forward,” with the definition of forward being: “Towards the opposition's dead-ball line.”

Why are there two types of rugby? ›

There are many similarities between the two types of rugby, but they have developed different sets of rules over time. The split between the two types occurred because of a disagreement about the way players were treated when they were injured during a game.

Why can't you pass forward in rugby? ›

In rugby, you can pass the ball any way you like, in any manner, so long as it does not go forward out of your hand. The law, according to World Rugby, says that a pass is deemed forward if the hands are moving forward when the ball is released.

Can you only pass backwards or sideways in rugby? ›


Participants may only pass the ball backwards or sideways with no blocking allowed; using a variety of phases such as lineouts, mauls, rucks and scrums to retain possession during play. Rugby is unique in that play is continuous even after players are tackled on the field.

What is a Loosehead prop? ›

What is a loosehead prop? The loosehead prop is a member of the team's front row (alongside the hooker and the tighthead prop). They're one of the three players in the front row of the scrum. The loosehead prop lines up on the left of the scrum, next to the hooker.

Why do they have scrums in rugby league? ›

The scrum is a means of restarting play after a stoppage which has been caused by a minor infringement of the Laws (for example, a forward pass or knock-on) or the ball becoming unplayable in a ruck or maul.

Can you knee the ball forward in rugby? ›

So there you have it. Ring's action worked as a ploy to put the ball over the defence, but it was an illegal one. This goes for a quick tap penalty as well. You cannot knee the ball to constitute a kick.

Can you lift a player in rugby league? ›

Application: No defender(s), during the course of a tackle, are permitted to lift the ball-carrier (this is not to be confused with a tackle that, in the same motion, “knocks” a player off their feet). If a lift occurs, the Referee must penalise the offending player(s).

What is the number 1 hardest sport? ›

According to Sports Virsa, the top 10 hardest sports in the world to play in 2022 are as follows: Boxing (hardest), American football, mixed martial arts, ice hockey, gymnastics, basketball, soccer, wrestling, rugby, and water polo.

Which is harder rugby union or league? ›

As the ball is in play more and there are fewer players (13 compared to 15) to cover the field it has been implied that rugby league is the more physically demanding sport.

What sport is harder to play rugby or football? ›

Rugby players run more, hit more and have to be mentally switched on for 69 more minutes than American Football players. Rugby players don't have the luxury of being able to stop the play each breakdown, they must get back up, get back in line, make that last-ditch tackle, cover that kick over the top etc.

What is the average BMI for a rugby player? ›

All previous data demonstrate that high BMI is commonplace and a desirable attribute for sport performance in professional rugby players. The mean BMI was 26.18 ± 2.37 (kg/m2) and the body fat content 15.87 ± 3.97% in our back position players.

How fit should a rugby player be? ›

Rugby is one of a few sports that demands a high level of all-round fitness. Players need to be aerobically and anaerobically fit, fast, agile, mobile, powerful, and strong. However, it's not enough to be well-conditioned, ruggers need to be skilled too.

Why do rugby players get so big? ›

How do rugby players get big legs? Rugby players do a lot of strength training and will eat a high protein diet to support muscle growth and recovery.

How can I be the best rugby league player? ›

You can always try other shorter noncontact forms of the game if you don't initially fancy the full on physical challenge.
  1. Always wear protection. ...
  2. Practice your kicking. ...
  3. Practice your catching. ...
  4. Prepare with training drills. ...
  5. Commit to the tackle. ...
  6. Choose a position relative to your strengths. ...
  7. Play other forms of the game.

How do you get stronger in rugby league? ›

Top 5 Leg Strength & Power Exercises For Rugby/Rugby League...
  1. Squat Jumps. – Start in a deep squat position. ...
  2. High Step-Ups. – Have one foot up on a chair like you are about to walk up a high staircase. ...
  3. Nordic Hamstring Exercises. ...
  4. Single Leg Calf Raises Over A Ledge. ...
  5. 5 Burpees Into A 10m Sprint.
Apr 15, 2020

What does 23 mean in rugby? ›

The last player on the bench, rugby jersey 23, is often a utility back, able to cover more than one position in the midfield or outside backs.

What does 40 20 mean in rugby league? ›

40/20 - Ball is kicked from behind the kickers own 40m line and goes out within the defensive teams 20m line and the goal line. The ball has to bounce out over the side line to regain possession.

What is the difference between 1 3 3 1 and 2 4 2 in rugby? ›

In a 1-3-3-1, there will be one forward by each sideline, with two pods of three in the middle of the field. In the 2-4-2, there will be two groups of two forwards on the outsides of the field, with one group of four in the middle.

What does 22 mean in rugby? ›

22: The area between the goal line and the 22-metre line, and between the touchlines. It includes the 22-metre line but not the goal line or the touchlines. A.

What are 5 key rules for the sport of rugby? ›

  • No shoulder pads or helmets in rugby.
  • The ball must be pitched backwards to your teammates. ...
  • There is no blocking to assist your runner.
  • Everyone runs with the ball and tackles equally. ...
  • When you are tackled you have one second to let go of the ball and purposely “fumble” the ball.

What is a rugby ball called? ›

The humble rugby ball, formerly known as a 'quanco', is iconic in the game for its odd shape, completely different to almost every other sport. Whilst cricket, football, tennis and more use traditional spheres for their playing equipment, the rugby ball is an 'elongated ellipsoid' or basically oval.

What is 10 in rugby? ›

Fly-half. Wears the No.10 jersey, is often the first receiver during an attack. Regarded as the playmaker of the team.

What does 58 do in rugby league? ›

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.

What is a 5 3 split in rugby? ›

The alternative, a 5-3 split, allows a second specialist back, such as a fly-half, to be selected, as well as a 'utility back' who could slot into multiple three-quarter positions. England head coach Eddie Jones came under scrutiny after the defeat to Ireland in the 2022 Six Nations for selecting a 5-3 split.

Why do you get another 6 tackles in rugby league? ›

THE six-again rule; it was brought in to speed up the game back in 2020, first in the NRL and then in Super League. The ruling allows a referee to award an attacking side six more tackles for ruck infringements rather than a penalty.

Do they have conversions in rugby league? ›

Following a try, the scoring team has a chance to convert the try from four points to six with a place kicked goal over the crossbar and between the uprights of the goal-posts; this is known as a conversion and the six-point total is known as a converted try.

How many tackles do you get in rugby league? ›

Each team in effect, is given six tackles or chances to score. If after six tackles they have not achieved this then the ball is given to the other team who then also have the chance to score with six tackles.

What does the hooter mean in rugby league? ›

A hooter or whistle will indicate the start and finish of the half. Play is only allowed to continue after the whistle or hooter sounds if the ball is still in play. The half will immediately end once a tackle is made or the ball goes out to touch. However, time can be extended for a penalty kick or a kick at goal.

Why did NSW keep getting 6 again? ›

The six-again rule was dreamt up by Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V'landys, and gives the referee an option to restart a set mid-play for offside or ruck infringements, rather than blow a penalty. The idea was to reduce stoppages and introduce more attacking play into the NRL.

Why can't you high tackle in rugby? ›

A high tackle is an illegal tackling move in rugby football. A high tackle occurs when a player tackles or attempts to tackle an opponent whereby their arm makes contact with the ball carrier's chest. The move is dangerous due to the risk of injury to the head and neck of the player being tackled.

Can you rip the ball in rugby league? ›

NRL Implemented: 2008 NRL season. The maximum number of interchanges that could be made from a pool of four replacements was reduced from 12 to 10. A second tackler was now permitted to strip the ball if the attacker carrying it was attempting to place ball for a try.

Can you charge down a conversion in rugby league? ›

Sanction: If the opposing team at a conversion attempt infringes but the kick is successful, the goal stands. If the kick is unsuccessful, the kicker retakes the conversion and the opposing team is not allowed to charge.

What does number 2 do in rugby league? ›

A front-row forward, the hooker wears the number 2 on the back of his jersey. In a scrum, the hooker is positioned in the middle of the front row, bound together with the opposing team's hooker, putting him right in the middle of the scrum.

How does the new 6 again rule work? ›

The biggest change is to the “Six Again” rule. If the infringement occurs within 40 metres to a team's try line, then a penalty will be given instead of a set restart. Meanwhile, clubs will be required to name a 22-man squad this year instead of 21. This coincides with the 18th man rule the NRL brought in last year.

What is an 8 point try in rugby league? ›

In rugby league, a possible 8-point try is awarded if the defending team commits an act of foul play as the ball is being grounded. The try is awarded, and is followed by a conversion attempt, in-line from where the try was scored, and then a penalty kick from in front of the posts.

Can you tackle low in rugby league? ›

In league any tackle around or above the neck is deemed illegal. However, the sport has tightened its concussion policy as the focus on preventing long-lasting damage from head injuries continues.

How many points is a try and conversion? ›

A try is awarded five points. A successful try is awarded with an additional conversion opportunity for two points. If the referee awards a team a penalty they are allowed to kick for the posts for three points. Finally, a player is allowed to attempt a drop-goal in play for three points.


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