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I have been thinking about my role in this life and some of the things that I hold dear. High on that list is the game of rugby. I thought I might share with you a few of my thoughts on the role that each individual part plays that makes up a cohesive rugby team. While some of you may disagree with the message, I feel it is important to share with you all the knowledge that I have gained in my years of playing rugby.

Front Row - Without a doubt the manliest men on the pitch. Large, often hairy, beer swilling carnivores that can and will smash anything in their path. Reveling in the violence inherent in the scrum, they are rarely considered "nice" people, and in fact to some they aren't even considered human at all. This attitude is tolerated by front rowers far and wide because they recognize their role at the top of the food chain and are used to suffering the fools that surround them. Accused by some of simply being dumb, I prefer to think of this group as "open to unconventional ways of thinking".

Locks - Slightly below the front row on the food chain. As with front row players it is inadvisable to put an appendage you wish to keep near this group's mouth when they are in the feeding mode. This group of large, often foul smelling brutes is also more than willing to relish the finer points of stomping on a fallen opponent's body and will gleefully recount the tale ad infinitum. While they tend to take the tag "Powerhouse of the Scrum" a little too seriously, they can be useful if inured with the proper hatred of their fellow man. While members of this proud fraternity like to think of themselves as "open to unconventional ways of thinking" - they are usually just dumb.

Back Row #'s 6, 7 & 8 - These are fine fit fellows who, like a bunch of hermaphrodites, are confused as to what their role in life should be. While they know they are undeniably linked to the forwards, there are those among them who long for the perfect hair and long flowing gowns that come with being a back. Some relish the forward role and will do anything to win the ball and there are others within this group that will break the prime directive of the forward and do anything to prance foolishly with the ball. Generally, these guys are not all bad, but I, personally, have to wonder about any forward who brings a hairbrush and a change of clothes to a game.

Scrum Half - Some like to think of this back as an honorary forward. I myself tend to think of the #9 as half a fag. While this position is almost always filled by the toughest back, this idea is almost laughable - kind of like the hottest ugly chick. The scrum half's presence is tolerated by the forwards because they know that he will spin the ball to the rest of the girls in the back line who will inevitably knock the ball on and allow them the pleasure of another scrum. The #9 can take pride in the fact that he is the lowest numbered back and that as such he can be considered almost worthwhile.

Fly Half - Primary role is the leader of the backs - a dubious honor at best. Main responsibilities as far as I can tell is ability to throw the ball over people's heads and to provide something soft for opposing back rowers to land on. Expected to direct the prancing of the rest of the back line - the fly half, like any good Broadway choreographer, is usually gay. While some may argue that these girls must be protected, I find it hard to support anyone whose foot touches a rugby ball on purpose.

Centers - Usually come in two varieties - hard charger or flitting fairy. The hard charger is the one to acquire as he will announce his presence in a game with the authority rarely found above #8. The flitting fairy is regrettably more common and will usually attempt to avoid contact at all costs. The flitting fairy is also only one good smack away from bursting into tears and leaving the pitch to cry on the shoulder of his inevitable girlfriend. Both types will have extensive collections of hair care products in their kit bags and will be among the best dressed at the post game festivities.

Back Three - While some people refer to this group as 2 wingers and a fullback, I swear to God I can't make out any difference between them. They are all fucking homos if you ask me. How these three guys can play 90 minutes of RUGBY and stay clean and sweat free is beyond me. I know for a fact that their jerseys sometimes go back in the bag cleaner than when they came out. These ladies are fond of sayings like "Speed Kills" and "Wheels Win", how cute. These guys will be easy to spot after the game because they are the finely coifed, sweater wearin', wine sippin', sweet talkin' homos in the corner avoiding the beer swilling at the bar. On the whole, I really don't mind this group because in the end, they sure are "purty" to look at.

Shecky's Mantra:
The lower the number - the better the man

Rugby players all have specialized positions. On each side there are eight players called forwards who push, charge, wrestle, barge and very occasionally go forwards carrying the ball under one arm. Sometimes, they move in a knotted group, hiding the ball, and this is very clever. The other seven players are called backs, so called because they run sideways, throwing the ball backward to each other. Sometimes, they manage to run right across the field and this is very clever. Most of the time, the backs drop the ball, run after it, stumble and fall over. When this happens the other side picks it up and runs the other way. The player who dropped the ball must now think of an excuse, it was the sun, the wind (sometimes their own) the moon, I wonder what's for dinner, I pulled a muscle, it was a bad pass, etc. etc. Thinking up an excuse is usually the cleverest move a Vintage Whine can make.

  • The Fullback
  • The Winger
  • The Centers
  • The Fly Half
  • The Scrum Half
  • The Front Row
  • The Second Row
  • The Loose Forwards
  • The Referee

The Fullback...

The last line of defense who is always blamed when the opposition score. Vintage Whine fullbacks however, position themselves with care to avoid being near attacking players or under high kicks. This is known as reading the game well. They also make great cheerleaders and will cheer everyone else on while clamoring about trying to keep up. They often gasp and wheeze while looking to the sideline for the nearest water bottle or opportunities to be included in the best photographs.

The Wingers...

There is one of these on each side of the field, left and right. They are known for having a marked reluctance to take responsibility and a tendency to panic under pressure. They are always the first to pull a muscle. On the Vintage Whines, rather than allowing any true wings to pull up lame before the match, forwards, especially slow and exhausted front row types, are usually deployed to confuse the opposition, resulting in opposition players avoiding the stench and odor of our outer flanks.

The Center...

Two again, one inside the other outside. When attacking, they are the ones who run quickly toward the nearest opponent and collapse into their arms. When they try to kick the ball it is always an adventure. Center's traditionally have high sperm counts but on the Vintage Whines we use forwards as center's so this tradition is threatened. Centers are usually known for speed and Vintage Whine centers are no exception. They often sprint off the field to the toilet or to the bar to reload. They have an uncanny knack of tripping over themselves or being flattened by opposition players whom they were trying to run through.

The Fly Half...

In Golden Oldies rugby this is the big laugh position reserved for aging trendies who think they can still cut the mustard. They act tough by striking various poses, snarling, blowing snot, hoiking boogers, and wearing Velcro inside their jockstraps. If someone comes near them they usually do one of three things. (1) kick the ball anywhere (2) run anywhere (3) assume the fetal position. On the Vintage Whines, the Fly Half position is reserved for those able to consume two pints of beer and a double cheeseburger 10 minutes prior to the game

The Scrum Half...

A small knotty type person who usually does exercises on the day of the match. Spends the whole game trying to keep out of the reach of opposing forwards. Usually becomes cocky in the last fifteen minutes and gets battered. On the Vintage Whines, the scrum half traditionally talks to the referee, the forwards of both teams, backs of both teams, supporters and other teams playing close by. The current Vintage Whines scrum half has been known to keep talking in a style similar to shorthand dictation even after the match and right up until close to 1 AM the following morning.

The Front Row...

The vice ring of the scrum. In Golden Oldies rugby they play a separate game with the opposing front three. Often their game is played in one part of the field, without the ball, while the rest proceed elsewhere. After 15 minutes they are always completely shagged and, like all alcoholics, vow this is the last time. Multi colored belly button lint is a prerequisite. On the Vintage Whines, all of the above is true, but the same qualifies one for a position on wing or at center. Vintage Whine front rowers are reluctant to move any body part at all. However, some have been seen to give a small jump or squirm as those in the second row grasp and clutch between their legs feeling for something to grip firmly on.

The Second Row...

This is the most restful position. To be able to rest one's head between two well-cushioned thighs, clutching on to each others love handles can put some second rowers to sleep. They are known to enjoy the comfort of being comfortably tucked up at the bottom of a pile of players. An experienced second row can go through a complete game without making any contact with the ball whatsoever. Usually distinguished by a magnificent pair of ears and a nose the shape of South America. Second rows types have an uncanny ability to sustain regular breathing amidst putrefied, nauseating odors. They love scrums and the mysteries associated with slipping ones arms through the legs of the front row. The art of this simple act has usually been passed down from father to son or mother to daughter. Second rowers have been known to run in circles and blow kisses to the supporters when they are in fact meant to be playing.

The Loose Forwards...

Golden Oldies loose forwards are basically nasty people who have never grown up. They have learned however, to get younger colleagues to do the actual tackling. The number eight loose forwards usually believe they could have played one more season in the competitive grade and always get conned by the other flankers into doing dirty work. The main goal of the loose forwards is to complete the game with their hair still in place, and be in the front row of exotic dance establishments. They are also apt to remember plays in which they were involved, even though no one else who played in the same game has the faintest recollection of their participation. Some are known to shave their legs and the soles of their feet.

The Referee...

Easily identifiable because they are always forty yards behind the ball, even at the kick off. Usually played in the lowest team in the lowest division before moving on to Golden Oldies. Most retire from playing Golden Oldies with a minor injury and are known to drink a glass of wine after the match. Referees recently petitioned the International Rugby Union to have the inside of the ball lined with tin. Pebbles would then be placed inside the tin and the ensuring rattle would enable them to at least be aware of the general direction of the play. The tradition of having separate changing rooms and showers for the referees does not exist in Golden Oldies rugby. This sometimes makes for exciting scenes in the showers should the referee be a woman.

Job descriptions

What a Coach Expects from his Forwards

A coach would like all his forwards to be good ball players, able to get around the field and to think.

must be solid in the scrums, understanding the mechanics of the scrum
must give strong support in the line-outs
must give strong support from kick-offs
in general play must support from depth
drive forward with the ball and deliver whilst moving forward not when the drive is dead
he must stay on his feet
must be aware of what the situation is on the opponents' line-out and take appropriate action.

must take his own scrum ball
throw accurately in the line-out at the required speed and height.
play as a loose forward from the front of a line-out- the blindside is his
play off rucks and mauls in conjunction with the scrumhalf (all will possibly not agree here)
his tackle rate must be as high as a flanker's
he is the loose forward of the tight forwards.; his game begins when his tight piece duties end
if he is not involved in a number of handling movements he is not worth his weight

in line-outs he must jump aggressively and ensure possession for his side
he must scrum strongly, understanding the mechanics of scrumming
he must support from depth in the loose and tight loose
he should get around more than a prop and pull off more tackles than they do especially around the edges
he must master the take at the kick-offs
he must learn to feed the ball before a drive dissipates
he must be a pest on the opponents' line-out ball
he should measure his success by counting the number of times he handles a ball in a game

he must be the major ball winner
his running lines must be directly to the ball
he must stay on his feet
run like a back and handle like a back
support from depth
tackle as many times as or more than a centre driving opponents back in the tackle
cause havoc through pressuring the opposing backs
look after the hole between scrum and backs, line-out and backs, in defence; if a side plays back inside, he is the defender
judge his success on the numbers of tackles he pulls off and the numbers of times he handles the ball
he must understand the defence systems used from scrums and line-outs
he should know all the backs' calls

No. 8

must be the king from broken play where he must be the key ball winner as well as attacker
must always be within a pass of the ball in attack and defence
use his feet like a good back
handle like a back
come into the backline like a back
play effectively off the base of the scrum
like a good centre, create for others; put others into gaps
understand his defensive role from line-out and scrum and like the flanks watch the holes created by a pass back inside
know all the backs calls
he will range wider than his flanks who are restricted to an extent and so can be expected to pull off wide tackles
like a flanker he must have a high tackle count and ball-handling count- the highest of the forwards
run effectively off the edge of ruck, maul, kick-off.
of all the forwards , he plays most like a back

One of the loose forwards is often used as a line-out jumper and that will restrict his loose play from a line-out and, of course, he must be able to take his own ball.

A few major points for all forwards:

Support from depth at pace (if you can see the ball-carrier's number you are in the right position)
stay on your feet
the ball carrier is responsible for the ball, the others must look after the ball carrier
don't play the ball when a drive comes to the end, play while the ball is still moving forward
dominate the tackle when you are the ball carrier, don't let the tackler dominate you- use your feet (is that heresy nowadays?)
in defence you dominate the tackle by cutting down space
in defence communicate
help the ball carrier get the ball in front of the team

One of the greatest sins in rugby is overrunning the ball because the support has been too flat and shallow. It happens often.

What a Coach Wants from Backs


1. Ability to beat a man on man.
2. That means ability to use ones feet, change of pace.
3. Ability to create space for others.
4. Quickness (not necessarily speed).
5. Ability to rapidly read a situation.
6. Equal ability to pass with both hands.
7. Sound defence.
8. Ability to kick punts , chip, grubber.


Ability to be a strike player by entering the line.
Change the angle of running when entering a line.
Be able to take high balls.
Good positional play.
See himself as the joker in the pack and to pop up everywhere.
With his wings to become a formidable counter-attacker.
To come into the line as a decoy.
To come in to give an overlap
To be strong in the tackle
Have a good boot.


To be fullbacks and able to do everything a good fullback can do so read what I have said about fullbacks.
See when the game is going into touch and to come inside.
Form with other wing and full back a counter-attacking team.
Sound defence.
Realise how difficult he is to mark if he moves all over the field like a number 8 especially when he is the blindside wing with his side attacking.
Vary running lines and point of attack.
Pace helps- a gift of God, but also the ability to link and not necessarily go to ground.
Keep the ball in the field of play, not to give opponents line-outs.
When you see a player heading across the field, give him the angle by coming inside to take a scissors.


Everything I said under general applies particularly to centres. I believe their jobs to be the most difficult in the game.

Create for another , space, a gap, an overlap. "I create for my wing- a golden ball."
The ability to slow a game down and quicken it up . To change pace.
Always committing an opponent or beating him. He wont always do this by running across the field but even that can work if his partner then comes through close and straight.
To play off and with another as a pair.
Communicate in attack and defence.
Defend especially in an opponents face
Be the first into a tackled ball to retrieve it from your partner who is tackled.
Primary and secondary support.
Work off the ball is almost more important than work with the ball.
Dominate his opponent.
Play both inside and outside and not be a basher.
Communicate with the touch judge and indicate to his fellows the offside line. Communication.


To get his backs away
To determine the most effective backline alignment in defence and attack. He must vary his attacking alignment according to the situation.
Be in calm control.
He is a key support runner and cannot except this from his game.
Defence must be strong.
Vary his personal game. Certainly he must as much as possible commit his opponent as well as the loose forwards and not allow them to drift across in defence without first checking him
Have a competent boot.
If his outside players are limited for space it is most likely his fault. He is responsible for the good play of those outside him.
He must have the ability, like a centre , to crack a line.
Like the inside centre he must be a playmaker and not a basher.
He must attack and be positive.


Give a good, clean, quick, accurate service to his outside man.
Be a force on attack round the edges.
Be a good support player by always being a metre inside and slightly behind the man with the ball. A big ask.
Be able to vary his play by using the boot but, like the flyhalf, rarely and with effect.
Form with the backrow a formidable attacking quartet.
Be a pain in defence by exerting pressure.
He must direct his forwards in rucks and mauls pulling out and pushing in. He has the same function in defence from rucks and mauls, especially near the line.
He must liaise between backs and forwards.
Forwards get tired and dont think. He can play a big role here as encourager and instructor.  

The following is based on the numbering scheme for player's jerseys currently laid down by the I.R.F.B. for International Matches. It is commonly, though not universally, adopted by other teams. (Common variations are the interchange of 6 and 7, the interchange of 11 and 14 or a renumbering of the backline so that the wingers are 13 and 14. The English club Bath omit the no. 13 jersey because one of their players was once killed wearing it. Some English clubs even use letters instead. Further, an interesting story is told about a Scotland vs England match at Twickenham in 1926. King George asked the president of the S.R.U. about the lack of numbers on the Scots players' backs and was informed, "This is a rugby match, not a cattle sale".) Anyway, assuming the displayed numbering scheme:

Players 1-8 are forwards (often referred to as the pack); players 1-5 are sometimes called the tight-five, or front-five, (players 1-3 are the front-row) and players 6-8 are the loose forwards (or loosies), or back row. Players 9-15 are backs.

            1 2 3
           6 4 5 7
      11                   12

A partial list of the individual position names is:

1.      (loosehead) prop, loosehead

2.      hooker

3.      (tighthead) prop, tighthead

4.      (left) lock, 2nd row

5.      (right) lock, 2nd row

6.      (blindside) flanker, breakaway, (weak/closed side) wing forward, wing break

7.      (openside) flanker, breakaway, (strong/open side) wing forward, wing break

8.      number 8, eightman, last man, breakaway

9.      scrumhalf, halfback, inside half

10.  flyhalf, standoff, first-five (eight), outside half, outhalf

11.  (left) wing (three quarter), winger, wingman

12.  inside centre, second-five (eight)

13.  outside centre, centre (three quarter)

14.  (right) wing (three quarter), winger, wingman

                  15. fullback


A complete unbiased look at the different rugby positions:

The Pack: Eight handsome burly guys whom you'd want to marry your daughter. They are intelligent, elegant, sensitive and sweet. Truly the ideal men.

The Backs: Seven guys who will take advantage of your womenfolk, and all tubular household objects. Often dine on quiche, brie and wine. Regularly take blow dryers on road trips and wear bikini underpants.

Prop: Short but stout, these strapping men support the hooker, but no money ever changes hands and the act is never specifically named.

Hooker: Often identified by a balding spot atop the head, these vertically-challenged but talented men stand between the two props and secure the ball for their team during scrummages.

Second Row: These tall powerful men are the driving engines not only of the scrum, but of the entire game. They can be found working their magic from deep in the scrum, behind the front row, or lofting high above the line outs pulling balls from the air.

The Back Row: Usually the most handsome and intelligent, these three men of stamina and strength are often considered the Renaissance men of the rugby field. They not only control ball, but the entire pitch. Remember, the back row defines the whole team's style of play. "They are the game."

Scrum Half: The point guard of the rugby team, the scrumhalf distributes the ball, runs hits and kicks. The scrumhalf is only half as handsome and burly as the pack members.

Fly Half: The first of those back guys, and the first of the offensive chain. Often confused with an insect, may be referred to as the man with "the foot."

Centers: Another pair of those back guys. Either power runner or annoying scampering guy usually found in the opposite order, but whose only purpose is to get the ball to the wing.

Wings: Ideally the fastest men on the team. Their job is to "score with the ball," but they often confuse it with "get tackled with the ball." Aslo an excellent snack when smothered in hot sauce and deep fried.

Fullback: The last line of defense. A back even the pack can appreciate, often viewed as a back row in the larval stage.