This could get a little tricky or confusing, but hopefully this short crash course on the positions helps.

There are 15 players on the field at all times, with both attacking and defending roles.

Various physical attributes are required however, speed and strength is vital across the entire team.

With most players specialising in one or two positions which uses their skills and size to their advantage.

The team is divided into two packs, Forwards which consist of 8 players and the Backs which are 7 players.

They can stand in any position on the field of play as long as they are onside.

The only exception is when there is a set piece play and each player has to be in relation to the ball and opposition; which is what the rugby rules stipulate.

Based on the team sheet that was announced on the 24 September for the Springboks upcoming game on Saturday against Samoa, below are the positions explained with the players that will go out and don the Springbok rugby jersey.

Let’s keep it moving with the Forwards:

One to eight on the field, are referred to as the Forward pack, known for the strength and tasked with winning or retaining the ball. They are involved in all the set piece plays and contest the lineouts and scrums. More powerful and larger than the Backs; their aim is to drive the team up the field.

Front Row:

1-      Loose Head Prop: The ‘Beast’

3-   Tight Head Prop: Jannie du Plessis

Their job is to support the hooker in scrums, lift the jumper in lineouts and their power is vital for rucks and mauls when it comes to retaining the ball.

2-      Hooker: Adriaan Strauss

Usually in the heart of the front row scrum, responsible for throwing the ball during the lineout and winning the ball.

Second Row:

4 & 5 are both known as Loose Forwards: Eben Etzebeth, Victor Matfield

The tallest on the field as they are the lineout jumpers; their job is to bind in the scrum and drive forward.

Back Row:

6- Blindside Flanker: Francois Louw

7- Openside Flanker: Schalk Burger

Positioned at the back of the scrum; their aim to win through turnovers.

8- Number Eight: Duane Vermeulen

Number eight is the link between the forwards and the backs. He also has to control the ball at the back of the scrum before the attack begins.

Usher in the Backs:

Numbers nine to fifteen are known as the Backs, who tend to be smaller than their Forward brothers. Why? As they need speed and agility to be able to run the ball into space or kick for goal. Being able to utilise their possession fully and get points on the board.

Half- backs:

9- Scrum- half: Fourie de Preez

Number nine is also a link between the forwards and backs, tasked with feeding the ball into the scrum and collecting the ball from the back.

10- Fly- half: Handre Pollard

The fly-half directs play on the pitch and needs to be a good decision maker and communicator. Most times he is also the goal kicker.

Three- Quarters:

12- Inside Center, 13- Outside Center: Damian de Allende, Jean de Villiers

Needs to be a good reader of the game, direct attacks and breaches defences; has the difficult task of tackling advancing opponents.

11 & 14 are both referred to as the Wings: Bryan Habana, JP Pietersen

They need to stay outside of the backline, score tries and complete plays. Fast and agile; but powerful enough to break tackles.

15 – Full Back: Willie le Roux

Fields opponent’s kicks, is the last line of defence and has a good kicking game.

Bonus Tip: In the beautiful game of Rugby, you can make up to eight substitutions.


Sources: Lineout Coach

Alice Paulse