Sevens’ job descriptions

Former Blitzboks captain PAUL DELPORT explains the different positions in rugby sevens.

‘This is your ball-running forward; someone who is quite tall and can compete well at the kick-off. You’re looking for a player who has good skills and is a hard-running, physical player. Generally, you want an elusive, game-breaking ball-carrier. It’s important for the loosehead prop to be an imposing player who is still mobile and strong.’
Example: Tim Agaba

‘This player is often your real workhorse. The hooker performs an important role at the scrums and the rucks in terms of securing ball on attack and disrupting opposition ball when the team is on defence. You want a hard-working player who can produce real dogged performances and has good skills. The hooker needs to be good at the breakdown and set plays, but also be a strong distributor and serve as another playmaker. This position requires a player who is mobile, has good aerial skills and a natural affinity for the game.’
Example: Kyle Brown

‘In sevens, the sweeper is one of your playmakers. A player with very good spatial awareness and strong skills. Often the sweeper or flyhalf will kick for goal. They will run the game for you, pick up where the space is, how the opposition is defending and how to attack. Sweeping play has changed quite a bit over the past few years, so now the guys are sweeping quite close to the gainline. This player also feeds the scrum and has an important defensive role to play from set phases. It’s important for the sweeper to cover the flyhalf’s inside space just after a scrum, and then once the tighthead has moved out, the sweeper will move back to sweep behind the line. The general rule for a player in this position is to stay inside the ball.’
Example: Justin Geduld

‘He has to be a strong scrummager and be able to compete for the ball at the rucks. He’s your go-to ball-carrier and someone who is often seen as a bit of an enforcer in the physical encounters and can be relied on to provide momentum. The tighthead prop also helps to create two-to-one ratios – taking two defenders out the game. The game has changed considerably over the years so the tighthead needs to be athletic and strong on his feet, on attack and defence. You’re generally looking for a player who is about 1.9m tall, strong and fast. The tighthead prop often performs a role as a pod lifter at the lineouts and at kick-offs. Statistics show that winning the kick-offs is a crucial facet of the game.’
Example: Philip Snyman

‘This is another playmaking position. Your flyhalf needs to control proceedings. He is your general, who plays an important role in organising and taking up the defence line, especially from set pieces. He has to possess great spatial awareness, while decision-making is crucial, as he, along with the sweeper, is tasked with implementing the plan, and adapting it when the need arises. The flyhalf should have quick feet, pace and skills. He must be a strong distributor and possess a good kicking game.’
Example: Cecil Afrika

‘This is a position that presents considerable defensive challenges. It’s probably the hardest place to defend from set phases. You need players who are strong defenders and technically sound tacklers. You also want good ball-carriers, with quick feet and pace. It’s important for them to be a threat on attack and strong on defence. Your centre needs to get over the gainline and create space for the speedsters on the outside. This is a player who needs to give you go-forward and be a good communicator.’
Example: Werner Kok

‘Here you need a player with out-and-out speed. Someone who can pick up when an opportunity is on and make the most of it. It’s important for this player to have the skills to finish off chances, whether by chipping and chasing or stepping a defender. Your wing needs to be able to create space and then have that finishing ability. Having pace on the outside is obviously of utmost importance. It’s also important for a wing to have a good work ethic and be able to get into the right areas on attack in order to have maximum impact.’
Example: Seabelo Senatla

– This article first appeared in the August 2016 issue of SA Rugby magazine

Post by

Simon Borchardt