Welcome to our comprehensive guide to understanding one of the most pivotal positions in rugby - the flanker. In this blog, we will delve into the intricacies of the flanker position, uncovering the gameplay, systems, principles, patterns, and mentality that underpin this role.


  1. What are Flanker Positions?

The flanker positions in rugby are the backbone of any team's gameplay. Positioned on the side of the scrum, flankers are the link between the forwards and the backs, involved in both defensive and offensive plays. There are two flanker positions - the blindside and the openside, each with their unique responsibilities and playing patterns.

  1. Gameplay and Systems:

The gameplay of a flanker is characterized by high-intensity physicality and strategic acumen. They are the first to react when the ball leaves the scrum, making them crucial in both defensive and offensive systems. Flankers are often the team's key tacklers and are responsible for disrupting the opposition's ball flow.

  1. Principles and Patterns:

The principles that guide a flanker's role revolve around agility, speed, strength, and endurance. The patterns of a flanker's play are dynamic and change based on the game situation. A flanker must read the game, anticipate the opposition's moves, and react accordingly - a test of both physical prowess and mental agility.

  1. Flanker's Mentality:

The mentality of a successful flanker is one of tenacity and resilience. They are often in the thick of the action and must make split-second decisions that can change the course of the game. A flanker's mentality is about being fearless in the face of opposition, relentless in pursuit of the ball, and unwavering in the commitment to their team.


  1. Skills and Attributes of a Flanker:

The flanker's role requires a unique set of skills. They must be strong and powerful to withstand the physical challenges of the game, agile and quick to react to changing game situations, and have the endurance to maintain this high level of performance throughout the game.

  1. Defensive and Offensive Contributions:

In defensive systems, flankers are often the first line of defense, using their tackling skills to halt the progress of the opposition. Offensively, they support the ball carriers, create space for their teammates, and often act as additional ball carriers themselves.


Understanding the flanker positions in rugby is key to appreciating the strategic depth of the game. The flanker's gameplay, systems, principles, patterns, and mentality are a testament to the complexity and beauty of rugby. Whether you're a seasoned player, a coach, or a fan, we hope this guide has given you a deeper insight into the crucial role of flankers in rugby.

Peter Breen