What occurs after the set plays restart the match is known as “loose” play, and here the front row players’ roles tend to be complementary rather than primary. When rucks or mauls form around the ball carrier, the front row players are expected to be integral parts of those rucks or mauls, working to secure the ball for their teammates.
Traditional rugby thinking stereotypes front row players as unable to pass the ball effectively, relegating them to short-burst battering-ram type plays if the touch the ball at all. The more forward-thinking Southern hemisphere-oriented style of play taking root on the international level places more emphasis on ball movement and attacking away from the mauls and rucks, and making front row players equal participants in the offense, not just workhorses,.
Of course, this new style of play means front row players have to be fitter and more adept at handling the ball than they were before, but we all have to make sacrifices.
Stay tuned for part II: the second row.