Key roles of number 1 in lineout

Number one in the lineout is probably the most dynamic lineout position strategically, requiring strength, skill and agility. Here are three areas he needs to concentrate on.


As a lifter to the front jumper they should be able to lift speedily to aid their jumper into position early in attack, or to provide the best chance to attack the ball in defence.

In attack, this is normally a quick jump to meet a quick throw before the opposition can launch their own player. Their trigger to lift will be a slight movement from their jumper. For instance, this could be a small knee bend before the leap.

Don’t move forward or back at the 5m line.

  • Keep balanced for a quick lift.
  • Helps the jumper go straight up.
  • Avoids free kicks for stepping back over the 5m line.

In defence, in particular they need to stand on, or as close as they possibly can to the 5m line to allow their jumper to use the space immediately above the 5m line to try and intercept the ball. This means they must also not step backwards towards the touchline as this will either unbalance their jumper or bring them in front of the 5m line, where interference with the ball could mean conceding a free kick.


For throws to the middle or back the lineout number one remains crucial. The standard middle throw usually has them taking the ball from the catcher (if a catch and drive is called) and setting the maul, requiring good timing of his movement to not give away the ball’s destination whilst arriving in time.

They must also cover the ball being knocked back accidentally, so needs to take a slightly wider run to allow them to run forward onto knocked ball. The number 1 also needs to cover when the ball is passed from the catch immediately to the receiver (scrum half) but must make sure they do not run into the line of the pass.

For throws to the back they still need to cover this front area for tapped or under-thrown ball that is caught in the middle.


More dynamic lineout plays require some amount of movement of players attempting to move a jumper to an undefended position. This involves his lifters moving with them, and so the lineout number 1 must also be nimble on their toes, not just to move quickly into new positions but also to change immediately to lifting mode when required.


  • Put a lifter crouched in front of a jumper. The jumper makes their normal leap. The lifter has to put their hands in the correct position to lift the jumper and give them a little boost upwards. This aids timing and reactions. The jumper must go up, not forward or backwards. Note it’s not a normal lift, so it can be done as a part of the preparation for full lift training. You can do this in pairs, with one jumper and lifter reacting to the movements of the other pair.
  • Have a thrower stand about 2m away from a wall. They throw at a point 7-10m along the wall, so the ball deflects off it. The “number one” stands also 2m from the wall, 5m away from the throw, with their back to them. They react to the ball deflection off the wall.

Argentina’s Tomas Lavanini and Ireland’s Devin Toner compete for the ball.
Notice that the Argentine prop hasn’t moved forward or back and looks solid. Though Lavanini’s jump isn’t particularly strong, it’s nough to disrupt clean ball.
For Ireland, the front lifter looks strong, but the throw should have been lobbed, especially since Toner is so tall.

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