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Rugby union numbering schemes

From Academic Kids

A rugby union team consists of 15 players plus up to seven replacements (depending on the competition). The starting players are normally numbered from 1 to 15 and the replacements 16 onwards.

Traditionally, however, some clubs, notably Leicester Tigers and Bristol used alternative schemes consisting of letters, whilst others Bath and Richmond used a scheme with no number 13. Leicester's numbers were from 1 to 15 corresponding A to O with the exception of the openside which who wore H which is the eighth letter of the alphabet. English Zurich Premiership sides have ceased using these numbers/letters to better aid the understanding of those new to the sport.

Nowadays the players are numbered 1 to 15 with 1 being loosehead prop and 15 being the fullback. However, the numbering used to be reversed with 1 being the fullback. This change happened in the 1950s.

Another common variations in the numbering is the interchange of 6 and 7 (particularly in South Africa and Argentina) or of 11 and 14.

There also are regional variations to the way line-ups are listed. Most of the time, the first player mentioned is actually the number 15. The two mainstream styles of listing a line-up are 15–9 then 1–8 and 15–1. However, you may see the centres messed up and the same is often done to the back row.

Position Standard number No 13-number Letters — Leicester-style Letters — Bristol-style
Full back 15 16 O A
Right wing 14 15 N B
Outside centre 13 14 M C
Inside centre 12 12 L D
Left wing 11 11 K E
Fly-half 10 10 J F
Scrum-half 9 9 I G
Loosehead prop 1 1 A H
Hooker 2 2 B I
Tighthead prop 3 3 C J
Lock 4 4 D K
Lock 5 5 E L
Blindside flanker 6 6 F M
Openside flanker 7 7 H N
Number eight 8 8 G O
Replacements 16 onwards, up to 22 17 onwards, up to 23 P onwards, up to V P onwards, up to V

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