Sunday, 11 December 2011

Number 8

The question came up during Wednesday’s Radio London interview of why the rugby union position No 8 does not have a name.  The term ‘lock’ or ‘lock-forward’ used to be the term for this position, widely used in South Africa, and is being used more often now in the UK.  The OED gives this explanatory quotation from 1906 – ‘Immediately behind these hookers … is he whom we call the lock man.  …His duty is to hold or lock the two hookers’.  This is from The Complete Rugby Footballer by D Gallaher and W J Stead.  So middle of the third row of the scrum – and the position played by Martin Johnson, Alun Wyn Jones, Sebastian Chabal, all quite noticeable gentlemen who deserve rather more than a number.

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