The fly half is one of a rugby teams most important players and is often considered ‘the brains’ of their side as they dictate the way in which their team will play. A good fly half must be extremely competent in all aspects of their game, able to kick, tackle and pass on either side. Although not essential good speed and turn of pace are a huge benefit for a fly half so as to make quick line breaks and chase down tacklers.
Fly halves come in all shapes and sizes as well as styles of play. Whilst the Springboks often prefer a bulkier fly half with a huge boot on them the Wallabies have often opted for Quade Cooper at fly half who is notorious for his poor defensive skills but has speed and agility that allow him to break through the oppositions defensive line. As the fly half is their teams key decision maker they must be confident and able to display strong leadership skills so as to make difficult decisions under pressure.
The build of a fly half can vary greatly and often depends on the style of play being adopted by their team. A side that likes to play fast attacking rugby with ball in hand may opt for a slightly smaller fly half whilst teams looking to play it tight may opt for someone larger who can effectively defend the 10’s channel. Ideally the fly half should have a low body fat percentage as they may be required to do a fair bit of running, but generally pretty much anyone can have a go if they possess the right skills set.
In The Loose
A fly half must perform a number of key when playing in the loose. As the key decision maker the fly half must be able to organise their team around the field and get players in the right position for any moves that may be performed. In addition the fly half must also dictate to their players which play to run, whether this involves keeping the ball in the forwards or firing it out into the backs. They must continually be looking for weaknesses in the oppositions defence and set their team up to exploit any potential gaps that may appear.
Should the fly half receive the ball in the loose they must decide which type of play to run. This may involve a kick to the corner to attempt to gain their team some territory, a chip over the top for players to chase, a pass into the backs or forwards or even to run it themselves should an opportunity arise. When receiving the ball the fly half must look to stand as flat to the oppositions defence as possible in order to give the rest of their players the opportunity to run at the opposition.
In defence the majority of fly halves will be required to defend the 10 channel through the middle of the pitch which is likely to be targeted by opposition runners. A fly half must be comfortable tackling players of all sizes as they are likely to encounter most of the oppositions runners during a game. They must also attempt to organise their defensive line moving the backs into position ready to repel any opposition moves.
Although not technically in the loose, the fly half is often their teams chief kicker meaning they must be capable of punting the ball accurately from distance. The fly half may be required to take penalty kicks and conversions for the posts. They are also likely to be required to kick for touch from hand for penalties outside of kick able range. The fly half will also often be the main drop goal specialist in the team and so must look for opportunities to drop into the pocket ready to make an effort on goal.
In The Scrum
A fly half doesn’t have any actual involvement in the scrum but must be prepared to react once the ball has come out. Should the opposition win the ball out of the scrum the fly half must be prepared to put any defensive moves into practice ready to hold defend against ball runners. Should the fly halves team win the ball they must be ready to receive the ball from the base from the scrum half and distribute it out into the backs.
In The Line Out
The fly halves role during the line out is very similar to at scrum time. Although they are not directly involved in the set piece they must be prepared to attack or defend depending on which team wins the ball.
In A Maul
Again a fly half is very unlikely to be involved in a maul but must be prepared to react to whichever play comes off the back of it, although they may on occasion. be sucked into the maul
Despite still playing professional rugby Kiwi fly half Dan Carter must be considered one of the best 10’s to have ever played the game. Carter’s all-round game is second to none in the rugby world and makes him one of the greatest players to have ever graced the game. Carter’s accurate boot has seen him become the record international points scorer, although it is not just his accurate kicking from the tee that makes him such a top fly half. His game management has been key to the All Blacks dominance in recent years as Carter helps organise the side and then make the right decisions based on the current play. He plays flat and attacks the gain line keeping the opposition on their toes whilst also kicking the ball when it presents an opportunity.