Rugby forwards are the first eight players on the team, or numbers one through eight. Their main responsibility is to make up the scrum. Scrums occur mainly when there has been a foul or the ball has gone out of play. We will learn more about scrums in future chapters.
Forwards are bigger than backs as they need to be strong in order to push the other team's scrum. They also need to be big in order to run through tackles in the middle of the field to gain territory. On defense, forwards will be required to tackle the opposing team's forwards to stop them from gaining territory.
Rugby forwards make up the eight players involved in a team's scrum. There are five different types of forwards:
There are two props, one hooker, two locks, two flankers and a number eight. The props and hooker make up the first row (or front row) of the scrum. The locks (or second row forwards) make up the second row of the scrum. The flankers and number eight make up the back row of the scrum.
Each of these players have slightly different roles to play both in the scrum and during normal play.
Props play either side of the hooker in the first row of the scrum. The loose-head prop plays on the left side of the hooker while the tight-head prop plays on the right. The purpose of the props is to support the hooker's weight so they can concentrate on hooking the ball back during a scrum.
During lineouts, props are responsible for lifting players to catch the ball and maintain possession. During normal play, props will help keep possession of the ball after tackles by shielding it from the opposition on the ground.
There is one hooker on the team. The hooker is in the center of the first row of the scrum. They are responsible for hooking the ball back in the scrum once it is put in by the scrum half and communicating the timing of the scrum to the rest of the forwards.
During lineouts, hookers are responsible for throwing the ball into play. During normal play, the hooker will assist the props in securing possession of the ball after tackles.
Two locks make up the second row of the scrum. They position themselves in the gaps between the props and hooker.
The locks are the most powerful people in the scrum. They act as the binding row of the scrum, ensuring that all eight forwards can use their collective weight to push the opposing scrum.
During lineouts, the locks are responsible for jumping to collect the ball thrown in by the hooker. During normal play, they act as support for during rucks and mauls as well as open field runners. They are the tallest players on the field usually and are difficult to stop if they get up speed.
Two flankers make up the outside of the back row of the scrum. They will switch sides of the scrum depending on what side of the field the scrum takes place.
Flankers are used for extra weight in the scrum and are usually the most athletic forwards. During normal play, they will be used to win balls from rucks and mauls as well as acting as an outlet for tackled players who want to get rid of the ball quickly and keep play moving quickly. During lineouts, flankers will sometimes act as jumpers to confuse opposing defenses.
The number eight will line up at the back of the scrum, in the gap between the two locks, to complete the back row. They are the only forward allowed to pick up the ball once it reaches the back of the scrum.
During normal play, they are responsible for providing supporting runs on offense or making tackles in the middle of the field on defense.