Before the game took off and had its own set of rules, there was no limit to how many players can join in a game of rugby at a time. Eventually, as the game became widespread, a fixed number of players became necessary. This allowed players to pick their preferred positions and develop particular skill sets. Now, the official number of players in a rugby game is 15 and they are grouped into two major groups:
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Forwards are usually the heavier and bulkier players because these positions require strength and endurance. In a team, there should be 8 forwards: loose and tight props, a hooker, two locks, two flankers, and the number 8. The first three occupy the front row in a scrum. The goal in a scrum is to bind together to push back the opposing team. In the second row, the two locks complete the “tight five”, the collective term for the 5 players that should be tightly bonded during a scrum. The back row consists of the two flankers and the number 8. The flankers have one arm around each of the lockers while the big number 8 binds the two lockers together with both arms.
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The backs are the more agile members of the team and there should be 7 of them. These are usually the smaller and faster members and they tend to be more elusive and difficult to catch. The goal of the backs is to find the hole in the opposing team’s defense. Backs need to be good at handing the ball and they need to be able to run. There are two half-backs: the scrum half, who links the forwards and backs and the fly half, who is the one calling the shots. The other backs are the three-quarters and the full back. The latter is considered to be the last line of defense.