USA Rugby Team Positions

The player positions in a USA rugby team determine not only where players stand on the field, but also what their roles and duties towards the team are. The 15 different positions in a rugby team have names that sometimes vary from one country to another, so it is important to identify which names given to these positions in the USA.

USA Rugby Team has 15 players

USA rugby team positionsIn the game of rugby union, there are 15 players on each team, comprising eight forwards (numbered 1–8) and seven backs (numbered 9–15). In addition, there may be up to eight replacement players “on the bench”. Jersey numbers 16–23 differentiate them. USA Rugby team players are not restricted to any single position on the field, although they generally specialise in just one or two that suit their skills and body types. Players that specialize in over three positions are called ‘utility players’. The scrum (a formation of players used to restart play), however must consist of eight players (providing a team still has fifteen on the field); three in the front row, two in the second and three at the rear.

The Rugby team requires powerful forwards known as ‘Props and Loosies’…

These are the two forward players that are positioned on the outside of the ‘hooker’ in the front row of the rugby formation known as the ‘scrum’. Their position names of Loosehead Prop and Tighthead Prop come from the fact that their main job is to “prop up” the hooker. Traditionally numbered 1 and 3, these are normally physically strong players who not only act as support for the hooker in the rugby scrum, but will also help ‘lift’ any other player in the line-out high enough to catch the rugby ball after it is thrown in.

Then comes the other ‘forward’ positions…

We have already mentioned the front row of the scrum. There are two rows in the scrum that are generally assigned with the task of winning the ball in, not only scrums, but also rucks and line-outs. The second row will generally be comprised of the tallest members of the USA rugby team, traditionally positioned as the main jumpers in the line out, and assigned the task of providing the main forward thrust against the opposing team. Forwards compete for the ball in scrums and line-outs and are generally bigger and stronger than the backs. Props push in the scrums, while the hooker tries to “hook” the ball. The third row in the scrum is also often considered as the most important one, including the ‘number eight’ player, and one of  the two ‘flankers’ (Blindside Flanker and Openside Flanker) on each side. Referred to as ‘loose forwards’ or ‘loosies’, will often pick up the ball themselves and either run, or pass, making their role a critical hybrid of both ‘forward’ strength combined with the speed of  a running ‘back’. ‘Locks’ are tall and jump for the ball at the line-out after the hooker has thrown it in. The flankers and number eight should be the first forwards to a tackle and play an important role in securing possession of the ball for their team.

A Rugby team needs fast running ‘backs’ …

The backs play behind the forwards and are usually more lightly built and faster. Successful backs are skilful at passing and kicking. The names given to the positions of the backs can often be most confusing ones, according to fans. In Australia they are named according to their standing position’s distance from the scrum: halves, three-quarters, centres. In a USA rugby team they would be called the ‘scrum half’ and ‘fly half’, while the two centre positions are called ‘inside centre’ and ‘outside centre’. The ‘centres’ key attacking roles are to try and break through the defensive line and link successfully with wingers.

The Rugby ‘wings’ and the ‘fullback’ positions …

Full-backs need to be good defenders and kickers, and have the ability to catch a kicked ball. The wingers are usually among the fastest players in a team and score many of the team’s tries. The fly-half can be a good kicker and generally directs the back-line. The scrum-half retrieves the ball from the forwards and needs a quick and accurate pass to get the ball to the backs (often firstly to the fly-half).

Simple, really. So, armed with your new understanding of Rugby positions and player names, you should find things easier to follow and enjoy when you’re next watching your favourite USA Rugby Team in action.