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Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Player Positions - No. 2 Hooker

The No. 2 on a rugby union team is the Hooker. Hookers together with the loosehead prop and the tighthead prop make up the front row of the scrum. Hookers are positioned in the middle of the front row and are called hookers as it is their job to hook (kick backwards) the ball to the back of their scrum.

Roles within the team
Hooker is one of the more vital positions on a rugby team in terms of retaining possession of the ball in the set-piece. In the scrum they scrummage against the opposition tighthead and hooker and are expected to hook the ball to the back of the scrum. A hooker's hook in the scrum can retain or gain possession of the ball for their team. Hooker's are also vital in retaining possession for their team in the lineout as it is their job to throw the ball into the lineout. Lineout throwing is one of the hookers primary skills and it is vital the throw is straight and accruate to reach the intended lineout jumper.
In the loose hookers have become important ball-carriers as they often combine power with explosive speed over short distances. Like props they defend and attack close to rucks but can also be found popping up in open play.

Physique
Hookers are similar in build to props but generally they are not as big as they have to combine scrummaging skills with the skills of lineout throwing. They are never the less some of the most powerful players on a rugby union team. Due to their smaller physique, hookers are often faster than props and as a result are expected to get around the field more.

Star Players
The greatest hookers in the world have become known for their dynamic ball carrying skills and accurate lineout out throwing such as Bismarck du Plessis and Schalk Brits (video below) of South Africa, Keven Mealamu of New Zealand, Mathew Rees of Wales and Jerry Flannery of Ireland. Other great hookers such as William Servat of France (picture above) and Steve Thompson of England are also renowned for their powerful scrummaging ability.

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