A competitive rugby union match is played on a large rectangular grassy field or artificial turf. The length of the pitch must be 100 m (109 yards) long between the two try lines and the width of the pitch should be approximately 70 m. These dimensions are largely based on the dimensions of the grassy fields at Rugby School in the early 19th century.
Although there is a degree of flexibility as to the width of a rugby pitch, the length of the pitch and inner markings are very precise:
A rugby union team consists of 15 players per side and is divided into forwards and backs. Like most sports, the team has very clear roles to support their overall success:
The positions numbers 1-8 on the field are called the forward pack. These players are fundamental in every set play, contest the lineouts and challenge in scrums. These players are usually bigger than the backs as their roles require them to win or retain possession of the ball.
|1||Loose-head prop||They support the hooker in the scrum, provide power at rucks and mauls and lift jumpers in the lineout.|
|2||Hooker||They stand in the middle and front row of the scrum, and are responsible for winning the ball and throwing the ball at lineouts.|
|3||Tight-head prop||They support the hooker in the scrum, provide power at rucks and mauls and lift jumpers in the lineout.|
|4||Lock forward||These are usually the tallest players on the field. They provide lineout jumping, bind the scrum and drive it forward.|
|5||Lock forward||As above.|
|6||Blind-side flanker||They are near the back of the scrum and provide additional force and aim to win turnover ball.|
|7||Open-side flanker||As above.|
|8||Number eight||They are the link between the forwards and backs and can control the ball at the back of the scrum, ready to launch an attack.|
The positions numbers 9-15 on the field are called the backs. These players are usually smaller than the forwards, but require the physical skills of speed, agility, balance and awareness.
|9||Scrum-half||They link between forwards and back at set pieces and feed the ball into the scrum.|
|10||Fly-half||They are very important for directing the play and tactics on the pitch. They need to communicate, make good decisions and are usually the team's goal-kicker.|
|11||Wing||They stay on the outside of backlines and provide speed and power to an attack.|
|12||Inside centre||They need to read a game well, direct team attacks and break defences with good running.|
|13||Outside centre||They need to read a game well, direct team attacks and break defences with good running.|
|14||Wing||They stay on the outside of backlines and provide speed and power to an attack.|
|15||Full-back||They usually catch opponents' long kicks, provide the last line of defence and kick from their own 22 m line.|