Rugby flanker

Rugby flanker - open-side or blind-side are part of the scrum but cannot wait to get away from it. There are reasons, maybe this is for you.

Flankers

There are two flankers in every rugby team. Along with six other players you are in the group known as 'the forwards'

There are many times in a game when a scrum is set. As a flanker you attach yourself to one side or the other when the scrum is being formed.

Whichever side of the scrum, you bind with one arm to a lock. Together with the number eight you are the back row. It looks like this

Rugby flanker packing on the side of a scrum Rugby flanker packing on the side of a scrum

Flankers come in a variety of shapes and sizes and it`s good to have a difference between the two on the pitch.

  • having handling ability is excellent
  • speed is pretty useful
  • good tackling is very important

other important assets are

  • strength, particularly upper body
  • toughness
  • competitiveness

and

  • bulk/weight
  • endurance
  • agility and mobility

Flankers in scrums

The scrum is used to restart play play after minor breaches of the rules.

Flankers attach to the sides of the scrum.

You push and provide some stability but your main responsibilities are elsewhere.

When a scrum forms it is rarely central in terms of distance from the touch-lines.

  • the narrow side is called the blind-side
  • the wide side is called the open side

Rugby flankers tend to specialise, with one blind-side flanker and one open-side flanker.

When the scrum forms they attach to the scrum on the appropriate side, blind or open.

When the opposition win the scrum they get the ball so your job as a flanker is to DEFEND.

The flankers must remain attached to the scrum until the ball comes out.

The blind-side flanker then breaks from the scrum and must stop any ball carrier from making ground down the blind side.

The most likely players attempting to do this are their scrum-half or number-eight, trying to catch you napping rather than pass to their backs.

The open-side flanker breaks from the scrum and must stop any players with the ball from breaking through close to the scrum on the open-side.

Again this would usually be the scrum-half or number-eight but may possibly be their blindside winger.

When the ball goes to the opposition backs the openside flanker follows, using all speed.

Mission - get in there, stop the attack and take the ball from the opposition.

The open-side flanker usually arrives at the tackle or break-down before the blind-side flanker because the route is shorter.

As for all player positions when you have tackled, release the tackled player and get up off the ground as quickly as possible.

Aim to get both feet on the ground and crouch unsupported over the tackled player so as to legally scavenge for the ball.

If you are one of the flankers and we get the ball from the scrum, you SUPPORT.

It may mean close support for the number eight or scrum-half running the ball from the base of the scrum...

or covering across as the ball moves along the back-line, ready to receive an inside pass and/or waiting to pounce and retrieve the ball after any break-down in play.

Flankers in line-outs

When the ball has "gone into touch", there is a lineout to restart play.

If tall enough, flankers are used as alternative jumpers towards the back of the lineout

This ploy is used only occasionally as getting the ball safely and accurately to the back of the line is more difficult and risky.

Flankers tend to stay near the back of lineouts so the can minimize the distance they have to run to tackle opposition backs.

You stop breaks with the ball around the end of the line and make things as difficult as possible for the opposition backs to function well together.

In attack, more of the same. At any break-down be first there and get the ball.

Flankers in general play

The two flankers and the number-eight play in a co-ordinated way to provide a mobile defensive area when the team is defending or when the team is attacking, provide critical early support for ball carriers in trouble.

They use their superior skills of tackling, ball handling and agility to assist in attack and their bulk, strength and endurance to bolster defence.

For an idea of the size and build of flankers, compare elite players on our page player sizes.

Want to escape their clutches get a sidestep!

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