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What Is the Difference Between Open and Blindside Flankers?

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Understanding the roles of different rugby players can be tricky, especially when it comes to flankers. While both open and blindside flankers wear a number on their back – 7 and 6, respectively – their jobs on the pitch are quite distinct.

This blog will delve into these differences, providing clarity for any budding fan or player confused by the specifics of each position. Keep reading to unlock the secrets behind these dynamic roles in rugby union!

Key Takeaways

  • Open and blindside flankers are positions in rugby with distinct roles; the openside flanker wears number 7 and operates on the side of the scrum with more space, while the blindside flanker wears number 6 and focuses on areas with less space.
  • Openside flankers are typically quicker and possess agility, enabling them to contest possession after tackles, support attacks, and act as a bridge between forwards and backs. Contrastingly, blindside flankers utilise their larger physical size to dominate in tackles and defensive plays.
  • While both types of flankers must be adept at securing ball possession during set pieces like scrums and lineouts, openside flankers often react swiftly to secure turnover balls, whereas blindsiders use strength to maintain pressure during offensive phases.
  • Each position requires unique skills that complement each other: speed and tactical acumen for open-siders; robust tackling ability alongside strategic ball movement for blind-siders. Together they form a balanced back row unit integral to their team’s success.
  • Understanding these positional responsibilities is key for any rugby player or fan who wants to grasp how specific roles contribute strategically to both attacking opportunities and defensive stands within a match.

Role of Flankers in Rugby Union

Flankers in rugby union are crucial players who provide a blend of strength, agility, and tactical awareness to the team. They operate on each side of the scrum, with the blindside flanker typically wearing number 6 and tending to be larger in size, while the openside flanker dons number 7 and acts as a vital link between forwards and backs during an attack.

These back row players are dynamic forces on the field; their responsibilities extend far beyond just being part of the scrum.

In addition to their presence in set pieces like lineouts and scrums, flankers have an important role in open play. Openside flankers possess quick reflexes that enable them to contest for possession after tackles are made.

This requires not only physical prowess but also keen strategic thinking to predict opponents’ moves and steal the ball whenever possible. Blindside flankers employ robust tackling techniques that disrupt opposing teams’ advances—a skill making them some of rugby’s most formidable defenders.

Their versatility makes them invaluable during both offensive surges and defensive stands; they constantly adapt to shifting situational demands within games. After understanding how these positions function individually, it’s essential to delve into how they compliment one another within a match’s framework—leading us into our exploration of naming conventions for these versatile athletes.

Naming of Flankers

The naming of flankers in rugby is based on their positioning in the scrum. The openside flanker, typically wearing the number 7 jersey, lines up on the larger side at the back of the scrum, while the blindside flanker, usually wearing number 6, takes position alongside them and next to the number eight.

These numbering conventions have become an integral part of rugby terminology and help players and fans quickly identify each player’s role.

Traditionally, openside flankers are known for their speed and agility, whereas blindside flankers tend to be more robust and physical. Both positions require a unique set of skills that complement each other in creating a balanced loose forward unit.

Understanding these roles is essential for appreciating how they contribute to team success on the field.

Openside and Blindside Positions

The openside and blindside positions in rugby refer to the flanking positions on either side of the scrum, with distinct roles in attack and defense. To learn more about how these positions differ and complement each other, keep reading!

Definition and Differences

The openside flanker, usually numbered 7, and the blindside flanker, typically numbered 6 in rugby, make up the two positions within the flanker role. The key difference lies in their positioning during set pieces and scrums: the blindsider lines up at the back of the scrum alongside the openside flanker and number eight.

Size is also a point of distinction; traditionally, blindside flankers are bigger than their openside counterparts. While both positions share responsibilities in attack and defence – with openside acting as a link between forwards and backs – they have distinct roles that contribute to a cohesive team strategy.

Moreover, open-side flankers primarily focus on supporting attacks and creating opportunities for scoring. On the other hand, blindside counterparts tend to impede opponents’ advances by excelling in tackling– earning themselves praise for being among the best tacklers in rugby.

Scrum positioning

  1. The openside flanker is positioned on the side of the scrum where there is less space to defend against potential attacks.
  2. This positioning allows them to be more involved in defensive play during scrums, coordinating with teammates to impede their opponents’ progress.
  3. By being strategically placed, they can quickly react to the ball’s release from the scrum, enabling them to support their team’s attack or defence effectively.
  4. The openside flanker’s positioning also enables them to capitalise on turnover balls and disrupt the opposition by quickly transitioning from defence to attack.
  5. Their role involves not only supporting their fellow forwards but also linking up with and aiding the backs in creating opportunities for scoring.

Responsibilities of an Openside Flanker

The Openside Flanker is responsible for securing quick ball at the breakdown, supporting the halfback in attack, and disrupting the opposition’s play. Want to learn more about the crucial role of an Openside Flanker in rugby? Keep reading!

In attack

In attack, the openside flanker plays a vital role in linking the forwards and backs. They support their teammates by providing quick, accurate passes to create opportunities for scoring.

With their speed and agility, they can break through the opposition’s defensive line and carry the ball forward, gaining ground for their team. Their ability to read the game allows them to exploit gaps in the defence and set up attacking plays.

On the other hand, blindside flankers contribute to attack by using their strength and size to provide powerful runs and offloads. They work alongside teammates to secure possession of the ball during rucks or mauls, allowing for continuity in attacking phases.

In defense

Blindside flankers excel in defence, using their size and strength to make crucial tackles. They disrupt the opponent’s advance by engaging in powerful tackles, preventing them from gaining ground.

Known for their exceptional tackling abilities, blindside flankers play a pivotal role in stopping the opposition’s attacking momentum through well-timed and impactful defensive plays.

Openside flankers are equally instrumental in defence, executing key tackles to halt the opponent’s progression. They utilise their agility and speed to swiftly engage with opposing players, making decisive tackles that thwart potential scoring opportunities.

Responsibilities of a Blindside Flanker

Blindside flankers take on a crucial role in both attacking and defensive plays. In defence, they are tasked with stopping the opposing team’s advance by making impactful tackles. Known for their strong defensive abilities, blindside flankers are among the top tacklers in rugby.

Additionally, in attack, these players support their team by creating opportunities for scoring and ensuring strategic ball movement to maintain offensive pressure. Despite being bigger in size than openside flankers, blindside players need to be agile and quick-thinking, as they often have to adapt to rapidly changing game situations.

While on the field, blindside flankers work closely with teammates to secure possession of the ball during set pieces such as lineouts and scrums. Their physical strength is vital when contesting for possession at these critical moments during the game.

With specific roles across both offensive and defensive aspects of play, blindside flankers contribute significantly to their team’s overall performance.

Conclusion: Finding Balance in the Flanker Positions

In conclusion, open and blindside flankers play crucial roles in rugby union. The difference lies in their specific responsibilities and positioning on the field. Openside flankers focus on linking the forwards and backs in attack, while the blindside flanker’s main task is impeding opponents’ advances by tackling.

While these positions have unique attributes, they work together to contribute to the overall success of the team.


1. What exactly are open and blindside flankers in rugby?

Open and blindside flankers are positions in rugby, where both play as loose forwards with distinct roles on the field.

2. How do the roles of open and blindside flankers differ in a game?

The open-side flanker covers more ground to contest for the ball, while the blindside flanker focuses on strength to secure rucks from opponents by using robust rugby tactics and skills.

3. Can you explain what kind of strategy a blindside flanker uses compared to an openside one?

Blindside flankers often use their power following rugby rules to out-muscle adversaries during gameplay, whereas opensiders apply agility to snatch possession or disrupt plays within various rugby formations.

4. Why is it important for teams to have both types of flankers in their lineup?

Having both types of players allows teams to adapt their rugby strategy during matches because each player brings specific skills making them crucial for effective overall team performance in player roles.

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