Five-eighth or Stand-off half 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's back line, partnering the scrum half (Number 7). Also known as the pivot or second receiver, in a traditional back-line play the five-eighth would receive the ball from his half back partner, who is the "first-receiver" of the ball from the "dummy-half" or hooker following a tackle. In attack the traditional role of five-eighth from second-receiver has been to employ their creative passing skills to move the ball away from the congested mid-field further out along the backline to the "outside backs", the centres and wingers, who have more space to run with it. Furthermore, players in this position typically assume responsibility for kicking the ball for field-position in general play. 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. Over time however, as the game has evolved, the roles of the two halves have grown more aligned and difficult to distinguish. Along with other key positions, fullback, hooker and scrum half back, the five-eighth makes up what is known as a team's "spine".
One book published in 1996 stated that in senior rugby league, the five-eighth and hooker handled the ball more often than any other position. The Rugby League International Federation's Laws of the Game state that the "Stand-off half or Five-eighth" is to be numbered 6. However, traditionally players' jersey numbers have varied, and in the modern Super League, each squad's players are assigned individual numbers regardless of position.
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 away from the scrum. In Britain, where rugby league originated, this terminology has been retained. In Australian English however, "five-eighth" is the term used for the number 6, to differentiate from the half back which is number 7. In New Zealand, both terms appear to be used interchangeably.
Stand-off halves that feature in their respective nations' rugby league halls of fame are England's Roger Millward, Australia's Wally Lewis, Bob Fulton, Albert Rosenfeld and Vic Hey, and New Zealand's George Menzies.
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