Friday, 18 May 2007

The Total Flanker Guide to playing: FLANKER

OK, so if I'm going to start handing out advice* about how to play certain positions on the rugby field I may as well start with a position I think know something about.

The position of flanker (or wing-forward, or breakaway, or loose-forward) is one I enjoyed for many a season and these days is usually split into the categories of openside and blindside flanker. Over the years the gap between openside and blindside has widened to the extent that they are now not only two different positions but are also two very distinct philosophies. The following advice is therefore based on the following truisms:

1. The openside flanker's raison d'ĂȘtre is to be noticed. The blindside prefers anonymity;

2. The openside honestly believes he's the team's most valuable player and, if he chose to, he could play anywhere in the backline and still be the team's star performer; and

3. The blindside is essentially a lock forward who is not quite big enough for the tight-five.

So, to play blindside with any degree of success you need to:

- shave your head;
- tackle anything that moves;
- drink Guinness with the tight five forwards after the game;
- tackle anything that moves;
- spend an inordinate amount of time trapped at the bottom of rucks;
- tackle anything that moves;-
- touch the ball a maximum of three times during the course of 80 minutes; and, finally
- tackle anything that moves.

Whereas to play openside you'll need to develop an entirely different skillset, namely:

- grow your hair or dye it blonde, or both;
- tape up both wrists (for effect, not support);
- wear white boots;
- hang off rucks and point a lot;
- tackle the opposition fly half (preferably late), especially if he's small;
- engage the referee in constant dialogue;
- drink spritzers with the girls after the game;
- take a year's supply of shower gel, hair gel and moisturizer to every game;
- get on the end of others' hard work to grab the glory by scoring an average of 2 tries per game from an average of 5 yards out.

There, I think that covers it. Hope that helps...

(*all advice tempered by the disclaimer that I haven't played a game of competitive rugby since lifting was allowed in the lineout and therefore almost certainly haven't a clue what I'm talking about).