Last updated
Stand-offs such as France's Thomas Bosc require good passing skills. Thomas Bosc.jpg
Stand-offs such as France's Thomas Bosc require good passing skills.

Five-eighth or Stand-off is one of the positions in a rugby league football team. Wearing jersey number 6, this player is one of the two half backs in a team, partnering the scrum-half. [1] [2] [3] Sometimes known as the pivot or second receiver, [4] in a traditional attacking 'back-line' (No. 1-7) [5] play, the five-eighth would receive the ball from the scrum half, [6] who is the first receiver of the ball from the dummy-half or hooker following a tackle.


The role of the five-eighth is often to pass the ball away from the congested area around the tackle, further out along the 'back-line' to the outside backs, the centres and wingers, who have more space to run with it. [7] [8] Furthermore, players in this position typically assume responsibility for kicking the ball for field position in general play. [9] [10] The five-eighth is therefore considered one of the most important positions, often referred to as a 'play maker', assuming a decision-making role on the field. [11] [12] Over time, however, as the game has evolved, the roles of the two halves have grown more aligned and difficult to distinguish. [13] Along with other key positions – fullback, hooker and scrum half – the five-eighth makes up what is known as a team's spine. [14]

One book published in 1996 stated that in senior rugby league, the five-eighth and hooker handled the ball more often than any other positions. [15]

The Rugby League International Federation's Laws of the Game state that the "Stand-off half or Five-eighth" is to be numbered 6. [16] However, traditionally players' jersey numbers have varied, and in the modern Super League, each squad's players are assigned individual numbers regardless of position.


Wally Lewis was voted Australia's greatest ever five-eighth in 2008. Wally Lewis (29 April 2004, Brisbane).jpg
Wally Lewis was voted Australia's greatest ever five-eighth in 2008.

Traditionally in rugby football, there have always been two half-backs as well as scrums involving the forwards. Of the two half backs, the name "scrum half" was given to the one which was involved in the scrum by feeding the ball into it and the name "stand-off half" was given to the one which stood off to the side of the scrum. [17] In Britain, where rugby league originated, this terminology has been retained. [18] In Australian English, however, "five-eighth" is the term used for the number 6, to differentiate from the "half back" which is the name commonly given to the number 7. [19] In New Zealand, both terms appear to be used interchangeably.

Notable stand-offs

Five-eighths that feature in their respective nations' rugby league halls of fame are England's Roger Millward, Australia's Wally Lewis, Bob Fulton, Brett Kenny, Albert Rosenfeld and Vic Hey, and New Zealand's George Menzies.

Rugby league's first known black player, Lucius Banks, played in the position for Hunslet R.L.F.C. in 1912-13. [20]

See also

Related Research Articles

Rugby league Full-contact sport played by two teams of thirteen players on a rectangular field

Rugby league, often called simply league, is a full-contact sport played by two teams of thirteen players on a rectangular field measuring 68 metres wide and 112–122 metres long. One of the two codes of rugby football, it originated in Northern England in 1895 as a split from the Rugby Football Union over the issue of payments to the players. Its rules progressively changed with the aim of producing a faster, more entertaining game for spectators.

Scrum (rugby)

A scrum is a method of restarting play in rugby football that involves players packing closely together with their heads down and attempting to gain possession of the ball. Depending on whether it is in rugby union or rugby league, the scrum is used either after an accidental infringement or when the ball has gone out of play. Scrums occur more often, and are now of greater importance, in union than in league. Starting play from the line of scrimmage in gridiron football is derived from the scrum.

Rugby union positions Positions in rugby

In the game of rugby union, there are 15 players on each team, comprising eight forwards and seven backs. In addition, there may be up to eight replacement players "on the bench", numbered 16–23. Players are not restricted to a single position, although they generally specialise in just one or two that suit their skills and body types. Players that play multiple positions are called "utility players".

A rugby league team consists of thirteen players on the field, with four substitutes on the bench. Each of the thirteen players is assigned a position, normally with a standardised number, which reflects their role in attack and defence, although players can take up any position at any time.

Mark Gordon Ella, AM is an Australian former rugby union footballer. Ella played at flyhalf/five-eighth and was capped by the Wallabies 25 times, captaining Australia on 10 occasions.

Benji Marshall New Zealand rugby league and rugby union footballer

Benji Marshall is a New Zealand professional rugby league footballer who plays as a five-eighth or halfback for the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the NRL and for New Zealand at international level.

Johnathan Thurston Australian rugby league footballer

Johnathan Dean Thurston is an Australian former professional rugby league footballer who played in the NRL. Thurston was an Australian international, Queensland State of Origin and Indigenous All Stars representative. He played as a halfback or five-eighth and was a noted goal-kicker. In 2015, he became the first ever four-time Dally M Medallist for the NRL season's best player, and later that year became the first ever three-time winner of the Golden Boot Award for the World's best player.

The team sports rugby union and rugby league have shared origins and thus many similarities.

James Maloney (rugby league) Australia international rugby league footballer

James Maloney is an Australian professional rugby league footballer who plays as a stand-off or scrum-half for the Catalans Dragons in the Betfred Super League.

Rugby union is a team sport played between two teams of fifteen players.

This list of rugby league terms is a general glossary of the terminology used in the sport of rugby league football. The sport has accrued a considerable amount of jargon to describe aspects of the game. Many terms originate from the Laws of the Game. A number of aspects of the game have more than one term that refers to them. Different terms have become popularly used to describe an aspect of the game in different places with notable differences between the northern and southern hemispheres.

Scrum (rugby union)

In rugby union a scrum is a means of restarting play after a minor infringement. It involves up to eight players from each team, known as the pack or forward pack, binding together in three rows and interlocking with the free opposing teams forwards. At this point the ball is fed into the gap between the two forward packs and they both compete for the ball to win possession. Teams can be penalised for intentionally causing the scrum to collapse, and for not putting the ball into the scrum correctly. A scrum is most commonly awarded when the ball is knocked forward, or passed forward, or when a ball becomes trapped in a ruck or maul. Because of the physical nature of scrums, injuries can occur, especially in the front row.

Fullback (rugby league)

Fullback is one of the positions in a rugby league football team. Typically wearing jersey number 1, the fullback is a member of the team's 'back-line'. The position's name comes from their duty of standing the furthest back in defence, behind the forwards (8-13), half backs and the three-quarter backs (2-5). Fullbacks are therefore the last line of defence, having to tackle any opposition players and regather the ball from any kicks that make it through their teammates. It is for this reason that the fullback is also referred to as the sweeper or custodian. Being able to secure high bomb kicks is a highly sought quality in fullbacks.

Ben Hunt (rugby league)

Ben Hunt is an Australian professional rugby league footballer who captains and plays as a halfback for the St George Illawarra Dragons in the NRL and Australia at international level.

Rugby league match officials

Rugby league match officials are responsible for fairly enforcing the Laws of the Game from a neutral point of view during a match of rugby league football and imposing penalties for deliberate breaches of these Laws. The most senior match official is the referee. They may be assisted by a range of other officials depending on the level and rules of the competition.

2006 NRL Grand Final

The 2006 NRL Grand Final was the conclusive and premiership-deciding match of the NRL's 2006 Telstra Premiership season. It was played between the first-placed Melbourne Storm and the third-placed Brisbane Broncos clubs on the night of Sunday, 1 October. The 2006 grand final was the first ever to feature teams which were both from cities outside the borders of New South Wales, in this case the capitals of Queensland and Victoria, yet was played at Sydney's Telstra Stadium. It was the first time the two sides had met in a grand final. They had played each other twice during the 2006 regular season, with Melbourne winning both times. The Storm went into the grand final as favourites, having won the minor premiership. Both teams were looking to keep their perfect grand final records intact: the Broncos with 5/5 and the Storm with 1/1 heading into the game.

In rugby league football, the Laws of the Game are the rules governing how the sport is played. The Laws are the responsibility of the Rugby League International Federation, and cover the play, officiating, equipment and procedures of the game.

Gareth Widdop GB & England international rugby league footballer

Gareth Widdop is an English professional rugby league footballer who plays as a stand-off or scrum-half for the Warrington Wolves in the Betfred Super League, and England and Great Britain at international level.

Hooker (rugby league)

Hooker is one of the positions in a rugby league football team. Usually wearing jersey number 9, the hooker is one of the team's forwards. During scrums the hooker plays in the front row, and the position's name comes from their role of 'hooking' or 'raking' the ball back with the foot. For this reason the hooker is sometimes referred to as the rake.

Anthony Milford Samoa international rugby league footballer

Anthony Milford is a Samoa international rugby league footballer who plays as a five-eighth or fullback for the Brisbane Broncos in the NRL.


  1. "The NRL's 10 best halves combos". National Rugby League . Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  2. McDonald, Margie (11 November 2006). "Finch to be five-eighth". The Australian . Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  3. Jancetic, Steve (12 May 2010). "Lyon backs away from five-eighth role". Wide World of Sports. Archived from the original on 16 October 2014. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  4. Dillon, Robert (1 April 2012). "Mullen finds a home in pivotal role for Knights". The Newcastle Herald . Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  5. Hickey, Julia (2006). Understanding Rugby League. UK: Coachwise. ISBN   9781905540105.
  6. Thompson, Michael (21 July 2011). "Thompson now calling the shots". Townsville Bulletin . Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  7. Gould, Phil (22 February 2004). "Why is their number up?". The Sun-Herald . Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  8. Hickie, David (1 March 1987). "The Trend toward Robot League". The Sun-Herald . Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  9. Ryan, Nathan (8 May 2013). "James Maloney backed for NSW five-eighth based on his kicking game says Nathan Hindmarsh". The Australian . Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  10. Ritchie, Dean (9 June 2011). "NSW five-eighth Jamie Soward vows dominant kicking game in State of Origin II". Herald Sun . Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  11. "Positions guide: Stand-off". Rugby league: Laws & Equipment. BBC News . Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  12. Gardini, Adam (8 January 2008). "Rogers eager to play five-eighth". Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  13. Knox, Ron (20 February 2006). "The Role of half backs: Where we are strongest". Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  14. Badel, Peter (1 September 2013). "Darren Lockyer urges Anthony Griffin to stop tinkering with the spine of the Brisbane Broncos". The Courier-Mail . Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  15. Tim Rogers and Richard Beesley (2006). Fitness for Rugby League (PDF). Australia: Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-10-21. Retrieved 2013-09-04.
  16. The International Laws of the Game and Notes of the Laws (PDF). RLIF. 2007. p. 9.
  17. Crego, Robert (2003). Sports and Games of the 18th and 19th Centuries. USA: Greenwood Press. pp. 101–104. ISBN   978-0-313-31610-4.
  18. Hickey, Julia (2006). Understanding Rugby League. UK: Coachwise. p. 17. ISBN   978-1-905540-10-5.
  19. Australian Language & Culture . Australia: Lonely Planet. 2007. p.  83. ISBN   978-1-74059-099-0.
  20. Collins, Tony (1998). "Racial minorities in a marginalized sport: Race, discrimination and integration in British rugby league football". Immigrants & Minorities. 17: 151–169. doi:10.1080/02619288.1998.9974933.