Monday, 12 May 2008

The Total Flanker Guide to playing: Hooker

"You don't have to be mad to work here...BUT IT HELPS!!

...So the old not-very-funny saying goes and I was thinking that perhaps a similar cliche might apply to playing the position of hooker on a rugby field. No, on second thoughts scratch that idea - because, quite frankly, it's obvious that you DO have to be barking mad to choose to play hooker.

Let's face it - who in their right mind would choose to be slap bang in the middle of two sets of heavy men intent on driving each others' spines out of their arses, with no protection other than the two fat blokes either side of you, behind whose backs your hands are trapped, and with no weapons other than your head, your mouth and your stubble? Only a madman with a ridiculously high pain threshold and a psychotic personality, that's who.

Although it's increasingly common for international hookers to be big lads in the Steve Thompson mould, in real rugby hookers are commonly relatively small and bordering on wiry in build. However, any lack of size is more often than not compensated by an aggressive streak as long as a reticulated python. "Nuggety" is a word often used to describe hookers, "terrier-like" is another - but I prefer the term "psychopathic".

Not only that, having punched, bitten and snarled their way through the rest of the match, hookers are then expected to be the epitome of calm and serenity when they are faced with throwing the ball in to a lineout full of players who are simply too tired to jump - and this ability to switch from one mood to another so adeptly is probably why so many hookers also end up being their rugby club's social secretary.

To sum up, then, here's a list of the elements required to be a successful hooker:

• a ludicrously high pain threshold;
• psychopathic tendencies and/or unlimited aggression;
• the ability to throw a punch in a scrum with both arms trapped behind your back ;
• unerring accuracy when throwing in at lineout (a background in professional darts helps);
• a ready-made list of excuses for when throwing-in goes awry which includes doubts about the parentage of all jumpers and lifters; and
• the words to every rugby song known to man imprinted on your memory.

Hope that helps :)

5 comments:

Nursedude said...

Hi TF, I gotta tell you after playing with "Squirrel", who played hooker in our Metropolis B Squad games, having a good hooker who could: A-steal the ball on the other team's put in during scrums B-was accurate with his throw ins on line outs and C-a fearless runner with the ball-he was just priceless in our games. I do agree that it takes a unique person with a serious sadio-masochistic streak to play the position. Maybe I can get my older brother Bill to play it if he indeed decides to play this spring.

Nursedude said...

PS- Hey Flanker,I forgot to ask, who would be your ulitmate prototype among current players who are hookers at the professional level?

Total Flanker said...

Difficult to say with modern day professional hookers because they're all getting so much bigger. Kevin Mealamu's probably the closest to an "old school" hooker - by "old school" I mean of course the original blueprint that is Brian Moore.

Anonymous said...

Hi tf. i found this blog by accident. i think its deadly. definetly see some comparisons in my teams(18s, 20s, 3rds,2nds, its a small club). im going to put a link to this on bebo its so good.

totaljerkface said...

if hookers are in the middle of the scrum, why would they be the smallest in the scrum, shouldnt they be big?