How well do you know the rugby positions?
What is a prop? A winger? A scrum-half?...
Find the answers below with our fourth episode of "Do you speak rugby?"
Here are the answers!
In architecture, the purpose of a pillar is to hold up a building or part of it. In rugby, it's the props that play this role. The main goal of the prop—who wears the number 1 (loose head prop) or 3 (tighthead prop) – is to support the scrum by pushing with as much force as possible. The role is technical as it is thankless and decisive: "No scrum, no win," say the English. But the "prop" must also be able to tackle, to lift the jumper for a line-out, keep the ball in rucks and, in modern rugby, demonstrate agility during play. Societe Generale called on two props, Englishman Jason Leonard and Frenchman Christian Califano, to accompany it during the 2015 World Cup.
At the other end of the pitch, the wingers – numbers 11 and 14 – count on their speed and their muscle to score a try. But the winger is not only a finisher, they have a major role to play away from the ball, too, whether as a defender—including being in position to catch a high ball, or on the attack, interfering with opposing defenders. The model of a modern winger, both swift and hefty, New Zealander Jonah Lomu certainly made a mark in this position, in addition to other wingers David Campese (Australia), Bryan Habana (South Africa), Shane Williams (Wales) and Rory Underwood (England).
The scrum-half (number 9) is the strategist on the team, with their mastermind guiding the game along with the fly-half (number 10) as their alter ego in the link between the forwards and three-quarters. Their perspective of the game—though they are often the smallest player on the team—allows them to command the forwards, who are much bigger. They are responsible for feeding the ball into the scrum. The greatest of these "small" players include Fourie Du Preez (South Africa), Nick Farr-Jones (Australia), Gareth Edwards (Wales), Pierre Berbizier and Fabien Galthié (France), as well as Agustin Pichot (Argentina).
So, should you be a forward if you are big? A winger if you are fast or a scrum-half if you are clever? Clearly, nothing is that simple. And modern rugby has an affinity for muddying the waters by asking forwards (numbers 1 to 8) to be quick and backs (numbers 9 to 15) to be powerful... Versatility is becoming a major asset. So what is stopping the future of rugby from seeing new positions such as a scrummer, fly three-quarters, half-backs, fourth lines or wing hookers?