Everything you need to know about the different positions in a rugby team

Everything you need to know about the different positions in a rugby team

In rugby, who are the ‘big men’? This common expression – and it is not a mockery – refers to the front eight, that is, the columns (numbers 1 and 3), the whore (numbers 2), the second row (numbers 4 and 5), and the third line. (Nos. 6, 7 and 8), versus the seven players in the back lines (scrum-half, fly-half, two centres, two wingers and a full-back).


Average weight for the World Cup*: 117 kg
Average height*: 1.85 metres

The two pillars can be identified by their size: responsible for pushing the crowds, they are generally heavier and operate at a lower speed than other players. Columns are also smaller than second or third lines because their center of gravity has to be as low as possible in order to be able to push effectively in melee.

Their role is also to lift their teammates during throw-ins so they can catch the ball in the air. In international rugby, the standard is around 110kg for a distance of 1.80m.

* Countries concerned: South Africa, England, Argentina, Australia, Scotland, France, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Wales


Average weight and size*: see columns

It’s usually the hooker (No. 2) who makes the throws touch. This player is located in the front line between the two columns, and is at the heart of the closed group.

His task is very specific: he is responsible for following the ball back to his camp after the ball has been fed through the half ball. Players who play this position are usually stronger than full-backs because they must be athletic enough to withstand the test of closed-back strength.

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The second lines

Average weight*: 119 kg
Average size*: 2 metres

The second lines (numbers 4 and 5) are usually the tallest players on the team. Internationally, most are closer to two metres. Their role is crucial because they intervene at all stages of invasion: they fight and jump to touch. In addition to these tasks, they go out in groups to protect or recover the ball.

Third wing lines

Average weight*: 109 kg
Average height*: 1.9 metres

Also called wings, the third wing lines (numbers 6 and 7) should be strong and mobile. They are generally the best attackers in the team, trying to nip opposition attacks in the bud with their committed tackles. They must be versatile and durable because they have to intervene in almost all phases of the game for eighty minutes.

They are supposed to provide support to three-quarters of them in the offensive stages.

The third midfield

Average weight and size*: See third wing lines

The last of the strikers, the third midfielder (number 8) is also a tall player, designed to tackle. His role is more tactical than that of other strikers because he is placed at the back of the pack in closed huddle phases, and sometimes it is up to him to extract the ball from the pack.

Back row players are usually less powerful than strikers but faster.

The opening half

Average weight*: 87 kg
Average height*: 1.82 metres

He is the main facilitator of attacks and is often the most technical player in the team, with his passing and kicking. Most scorers are openers.


Average weight*: 100 kg
Average height*: 1.87 metres

The role of the center (numbers 12 and 13) is to penetrate the opponent’s line either by imposing his physical strength or by disguising him, or by a combination of passes.

Theoretically, there is no specific body that corresponds to this position, but the current trend at the international level is to move towards centers with a weight of around one hundred kilograms, and a size very close to that of the third line.


Average weight*: 93 kg
Average height*: 1.84 metres

The winger (numbers 11 and 14) is responsible for finishing the attacking phases by scoring tries. In this position, speed is essential and wingers are often the fastest players on the team.

Also, in theory, there is no specific size for playing on the wing. In the 1990s, New Zealand star Jonah Lomu, who weighed 120 kilograms and was 1.96 meters tall, revolutionized this position. Since then, the number of powerful wingers at the highest level, such as Aurélien Ruggeri in France, has multiplied. Today, the modern winger is often fast and powerful.


Average weight*: 91 kg
Average height*: 1.85 metres

The full-back (number 15) must also be very quick, especially as he is supposed to provide the extra numbers to finish attacks. In the defensive phase, he stays back to receive the opponent’s kicks: so he must also be tall enough to catch the candles.

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Beware of confusion: when used in the plural, ‘full-back’ refers to the seven players in the back line, not just the number 15.

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