Dominating the Scrum and Soaring in the Lineout: The Role of Rugby Locks

In the game of rugby, each position holds a specific role and contributes to the overall success of the team. One such position is the lock, a crucial role in both the set pieces and loose play. In this article, we delve into the world of rugby locks, exploring their role on the field, the physical attributes required, essential skills, notable players, and the challenges they face.

The Role of Rugby Locks

Rugby locks, also known as second rowers, play a pivotal role in both the scrum and lineout. Their primary responsibilities include:

  1. Scrum: In the scrum, locks anchor the second row, providing stability and power to drive the scrum forward. They support the front row in maintaining a strong foundation and exerting pressure on the opposition to secure possession of the ball.
  2. Lineout: In the lineout, locks are key targets for lineout throws. Their height and athleticism make them valuable assets when contesting for the ball. They use their jumping ability and timing to compete for possession, either securing the ball for their team or disrupting the opposition’s lineout.
  3. Loose Play: Locks also contribute to the loose play, involving rucks, mauls, and ball-carrying. They provide physicality and support in contact situations, assisting in driving the ball forward and creating space for their teammates.

Physical Attributes and Skills

  1. Size and Strength: Rugby locks are typically among the tallest and most physically imposing players on the field. They need to possess considerable size and strength to hold their ground in the scrum and contest lineouts effectively.
  2. Jumping Ability: Given their role in the lineout, locks need excellent jumping ability and coordination. They must time their jumps accurately to compete for the ball and outmaneuver opponents.
  3. Physicality and Tackling: Locks must be robust and capable of making impactful tackles, as they often find themselves in the heart of the action during loose play. They must be able to bring down opposing players and win physical battles.
  4. Ball-Carrying and Offloading: Modern locks are expected to contribute to the attacking phase of the game. They need good ball-carrying skills, the ability to make line breaks, and the awareness to offload the ball to support players.

Notable Locks

Several legendary locks have left their mark on the game of rugby, showcasing their skills and impact:

  1. Brodie Retallick (New Zealand)
  2. Martin Johnson (England)
  3. John Eales (Australia)
  4. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)
  5. Paul O’Connell (Ireland)
  6. Maro Itoje (England)
  7. Victor Matfield (South Africa)
  8. Bakkies Botha (South Africa)
  9. Malcolm O’Kelly (Ireland)
  10. Sam Whitelock (New Zealand)


Rugby locks face various challenges unique to their position:

  1. Physical Demands: The position requires exceptional physicality, endurance, and resilience to withstand the intense physical battles that occur in the scrum and at the breakdown.
  2. Set Piece Mastery: Locks must possess a deep understanding of the intricacies of the scrum and lineout, including the ability to read the opposition’s tactics, make split-second decisions, and coordinate effectively with teammates.
  3. Competition for Selection: With a limited number of positions available in a team, locks face fierce competition for selection, both at club and international levels. They must continually prove their worth and perform consistently to secure and maintain their place in the squad.


Rugby locks are vital contributors to the success of a team, playing a crucial role in the scrum, lineout, and loose play. Their physicality, height, and athleticism make them effective assets in both set pieces and open play. With a blend of power, skill, and tactical awareness, locks make their presence felt on the field. The notable players who have excelled in this position serve as a testament to the impact and importance of locks in the game of rugby.


What is a rugby lock? In rugby, a lock, also known as a second rower, is a position in the forward pack. They typically play in the second row of the scrum and have key roles in the lineout and loose play.

What are the responsibilities of a rugby lock? Rugby locks have various responsibilities, including providing stability and power in the scrum, contesting lineouts, contributing to loose play, and making tackles. They play a significant role in both set pieces and open play.

What physical attributes do rugby locks need? Rugby locks are typically tall, strong, and physically imposing. They require size and strength to hold their ground in the scrum, compete for the ball in lineouts, and make impactful tackles in loose play.

What skills do rugby locks need? Rugby locks need jumping ability, coordination, and timing to excel in lineouts. They must also have good tackling technique, the ability to make powerful carries, and the awareness to offload the ball when necessary.

Who are some notable rugby locks? There have been many notable rugby locks throughout history, including Brodie Retallick (New Zealand), Martin Johnson (England), John Eales (Australia), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), Paul O’Connell (Ireland), Maro Itoje (England), Victor Matfield (South Africa), Bakkies Botha (South Africa), Malcolm O’Kelly (Ireland), and Sam Whitelock (New Zealand).

How do rugby locks contribute to the scrum? Rugby locks provide stability and power in the scrum by binding with their props and supporting the front row. They help drive the scrum forward and exert pressure on the opposition to secure possession of the ball.

What is the role of rugby locks in the lineout? In the lineout, rugby locks are key targets for lineout throws. Their height and jumping ability allow them to contest for the ball and secure possession for their team. They also play a role in disrupting the opposition’s lineout.

What are the challenges faced by rugby locks? Rugby locks face challenges such as the physical demands of the position, including the need for endurance and resilience. They also need to master the intricacies of the scrum and lineout, compete for selection against other talented locks, and make split-second decisions during the game.

Can rugby locks play other positions? While locks primarily play in the second row, some may have the versatility to play in the back row or other positions in the forward pack. However, their height and physicality make them best suited for the second row.

How can I become a better rugby lock? To improve as a rugby lock, focus on developing your physical strength, jumping ability, and tackling technique. Work on your understanding of the scrum and lineout, as well as your decision-making skills. Regular practice, fitness training, and seeking guidance from coaches and experienced players can help enhance your performance as a lock.

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