7 flank – a Beast of a rugby player

Ardie Savea - probably the best 7 flank in the past 20 years

A 7 flank is one of the most feared players on the field. They don’t deal in subtlety. They are a slightly smaller version of the 4 lock and a lot more mobile. This allows them to do damage in far more areas of the field. A few great modern-day examples of good 7 flanks are Pieter-Steph du Toit and Ardie Savea.

The 7 flank gets across the part with an exceptionally high work rate focusing mainly on putting in high volumes of tackles and carrying the ball strongly. Some blindside flanks are also good over the ball, but due to them typically being taller, they struggle against shorter players with a lower point of gravity

Attributes of a 7 flank

Although some teams over the past few years have liked playing with two large flankers, they are taking away some options for the team by not playing a true 7 and 6.

The role of a 7 is a crucial one and involves a lot of thankless work similar to a 6 flank, even though it is expected of them.

The typical attributes of a 7 flank are:

  • One of your fastest forwards if not the fastest
  • Only slightly shorter than your locks
  • Great tackler and comfortable running with the ball
  • Enjoys contact too much to play in the backline

How a 7 flank can be used at different age levels

At the primary school level, the 7 flank will be one of your taller player and along with the 8th man the most dominant of your forwards.

The focus of many primary school coaches is to thrust these players into every conceivable ball-carrying situation. The reason for this is that they will often be running at players that are far smaller and will fear the tackle.

Although this makes sense, it only grows one part of their game. To develop a blindside flanker you need to make sure that there is also a great focus on defense. As the name implies the blindside of the scrum is his domain and no one is allowed to pass.

In lineouts, they will be a good option as a lifter if there is someone jumping in the middle of the lineout. On defensive lineouts and from rucks their main focus would be to run cover behind the backline as a second line of defense.

As these players get into their teens they often become good options in the lineout, especially in the middle of the lineout and at the back.

From their teen years onward it is important to instill the value of consistent hard work. It is true that it would not always get everyone’s praises, but it will be of great value to any team and a coach aware enough to spot the hard work being put in.