Idiot's Guide to Loosies
Part something in an occasional series
From loose unit Tim O'Tei
Are you too short to be a lock, are you too slow to be a back, are you not ugly enough to be in the front row, do you like getting covered in mud? If want to learn how to play rugby and you answered YES to all these questions we have the position for you; Welcome to the back row education program.
The back row isn't for everyone, first off you must enjoy flattening people smaller and lighter than you, as a backrow player you MUST have the ability to catch players smaller than you (particularly small, skilful players) and grind them into the dirt. You may think that as the person with Number 2 on his shirt is shorter than you that you can flatten him. Don't. He will have some equally short friends, with 1 and 3 on their shirts, who can be very protective. Always aim for people who have shirts with numbers 9 to 15 on them - they are much better targets for your aggression.
As part of your new role you will be expected to tackle people. This can be a lot or fun, there are few things more enjoyable in rugby than catching a mouthy little scrum half and driving him into the ground. If you accidentally tackle the opposition's most skilful player around the head, or just after he has got rid of the ball, the ref. may decide to penalise you, if he does this try to look amazed. If you want to learn how to make everyone in the ground know that you disagree with the ref ask the props to teach you the expressions they use after they are penalised for pulling down the scrum. After you have tackled someone make sure you get up before him, then, as you do, push his face into the mud - gotta let him know who is boss.
As a back row player you don't need to do much at scrums, admittedly the coach may ask the Number 8 to pick the ball up from the base and make some hard yards occasionally, but you don't need to do this if you don't want to. Just tell him you think its better that the backs have fast ball from the scrum. You need to stay alert at scrums because it's a good opportunity to catch the opposition scrum half and break him in half. Always remember rugby is a team game, so catching the opposition Number 9 has he tries to make a break at a scrum allows the slower members of the forwards to have go at him as well.
You may have heard of something called a "maul", if a "maul" does occur make sure you stand around at the back of it. If anyone, such as the coach, says you should get involved in mauls, say that you think you are better placed "defending the fringes". Only get involved in mauls if they are going backwards. If you are tired try to drag one of the players in the maul to the ground, this will result in a penalty and will give you the opportunity to get your breath back.
Follow the same rules at "rucks" (unless a skilful player is defenceless on the ground, where upon try to remove his jersey with your studs). If all the work at rucks and mauls is too much for you go and stand around amongst the backs. This will give you the opportunity to do something even more fun than tackling backs, running full speed into them, this is a lot of fun so do it as often as possible. If you run around with the backs, possibly even passing the ball to them occasionally, it will give you reputation amongst rugby fans as a dynamic back row player, it's also a great way to get the attention of any women watching.
If you are tall you may be expected to jump for the ball at lineouts, your coach may even expect you to catch the balls thrown at you. You don't need to worry about this; just practice shaking your head to show how disappointed you are with the hookers throwing in. If, by some miracle, your hooker can accurately throw the ball to the back of the lineout practice shaking your head to show, either, the inadequacies of your lifters, or, the poor lineout calling. Whatever happens it's not your fault.
Basically being a backrow forward means you can do anything you like when you like - play tight if the opposing backline is full of Caucaunibuca's and you have no hope in hell of catching them, and play loose if their forward pack is full of rampaging Kees Meeuw's. If the team has both, just pray and then hit the nearest opposing player as hard as you can, getting you sent off and the reputation of being a hard bastard - another win / win situation...