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Friday, 27 May 2011

Player Positions - No.1 Loosehead Prop

There are two props in every rugby union team. The No.1 on a rugby team-sheet is called the Loosehead Prop.They together with the Tighthead Prop and the Hooker make up the front row of the scrum and have to have certain physical attributes and skills to perform in this position. They are called the loosehead prop as the only opposition player they bind to in the scrum are the tighthead prop, leaving one side of their face visible during the scrum. This is not the case for tighthead props who bind against the opposition Loosehead prop and the Hooker.

Roles within the team
The primary roles of props are scrummaging and lineout lifting. They are bound to their Hooker on the left side of the scrum and scrummage against the Tighthead Prop of the opposing team. In the lineout, their strength makes them the chief lineout lifters, which means they lift either Locks or backrow forwards into the air to receive the ball during the lineout. In general play they are used as tacklers at the sides of rucks and are usually not found in midfield. Props are also used as ball-carriers close to rucks. They often do not gain much ground as a result of a lack of speed but rather suck in defenders, as they require a number of tacklers to bring them down. Modern day professional props are fitter and faster than before with Loosehead Props such as Cian Healy becoming very effective ball-carriers as well as being able to do their primary role of scrummaging.

Physique
Props have to be very powerful players as they take the most force from the scrum impact. Often not that tall, as they need to crouch as low as possible to get a better scrummaging position in the scrum. Instead they are generally stocky players with very powerful neck and shoulder muscles. Loosehead Props tend to be slighlty smaller in build than their tighthead counterparts as they only have to scrummage against one opponent in the scrum but are still very strongly built players. Loosehead props who play professional rugby tend to weigh between 18 and 24 stone. This extra weight helps when scrummaging.

Star Players
Some of the best loosehead props include Gethin Jenkins of Wales, Tony Woodcock of New Zealand, Thomas Domingo of France, Soanne Tonga'uiha of Tonga (Pictured above) and Gurthro Steenkamp of South Africa.
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