These are the chaps who go off the pitch with their kit as clean as it was when they went on. Thus the labels of "pretty boys", "girlie backs" or "nancies".

Full-back (No 15) - as he's the last line of defence, it helps if he can catch the ball or the oncoming opponent, although he frequently misses both, but is quite cute so the crowd try and cheer him up. Can't drink for toffee, but is dedicated to the game... so that's okay!

Wings (Nos 11 and 14) - excluding the odd New Zealander, these boys are the failed hurdlers and sprinters with the figure which would look good in those lovely lycra suits. Tend to miss the ball whenever it comes to them because they're trying to put their gloves on as they've been standing in no-man's land for however long watching everyone else run around.

Centres (Nos 12 and 13) - the page 7 models of the rugby pitch who only get bloody when a mate bops them in training. Hard tackling, deft running and a neat hairstyle usually does the trick. A good line in banter often helps as they work together to make up the rules in total disregard for whatever they're told by the fly-half!

Fly-half (No 10) - supposedly the bloke who can kick - well, a bit a least - as a result of which they either get all the glory or become the only possible reason why the team lost. Often prone to attacks of self-preservation, which he'd rather call "creativity" - the sight of the opposition's forwards heading in his general direction makes him change what he was about to do and kick for touch (usually missing), therefore confusing his back line who are waiting to follow his original instructions.

Scrum-half (No 9) - endearingly known as the "cocky little git with the big mouth" who, because they are the link between the forwards and the backs, is usually the first player grounded and receiving physio. Has to have excellent hands and the ability to run around the pitch like a headless chicken, knocking the obstructing referee out of the way at every given opportunity.

Easily recognisable by their cauliflower ears, facial scars and rippling biceps, although nowadays the ability to pass and keep up with play is important. So, perhaps their designation as "donkeys" should now be changed to "stallions"! Then again...!!!

Props (Nos 1 and 3) - large, but beautifully eloquent young men who, literally, prop up the scrum, the bar and any of their drunken team-mates after the match. Have the copyright on silly putty and Mr Potatoheads thanks to the amorphous shape of their ears, nose and, for some unknown reason their knuckles.

Hooker (No 2) - the tart of the team whose actual role is to throw the ball to someone who's not expecting it in the line-out and hook it back with his feet in the scrum. Is the centre-piece of the front row, but has recently made bids for any of the backs' jobs by expanding his repertoire to include kicking, sprinting and being able to pass the ball.

Locks/Second Rows (Nos 4 and 5) - the abnormally tall chaps who jump unfeasibly high to catch the ball in line-outs. They also get a kick out of sticking their hands between the legs and down the shorts of their stockier comrades in the front row. May come across as being slightly gormless, but become everyone's best mate in a crowded bar when getting beers or when a fight breaks out.

Flankers (Nos 6 and 7) - used to play second row at school but stopped growing too early, although they may still feel the urge to jump for the ball in line-outs. They come in two forms - openside and blindside - depending on how quickly they can peel away from the scrum and whether or not they want to get their hair ruffled in rucks and mauls. Can tackle like demons and like to work in threes (with the No 8), chatting up the barmaid, mainly.

No.8 (No 8) - known better as the number eight because whoever came up with the position names ran out of ideas by this time. Not big enough to be a second row and not fast enough to be a flanker - but, boy, can he drink. Reputedly a tough fellow, he bravely sticks his head in at back of the scrum and upsets the scrum-half by ignoring his call for the ball and going for glory himself. Bit of a loose cannon - given half a chance he'll drop a goal, a punch or his studs on the opposition.

The Weird World of Rugby (c) M.M. Roelofs, Amsterdam, NL
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