The Need For A ‘No.6’

All top rugby teams in the world always have a star blindside flanker who is dubbed the ‘Enforcer’. Players who don the No.6 are of a rare breed.
22 Mar 2022 11:13
The Need For A ‘No.6’
One of the world’s best blindside flankers Jeremy Kaino. He played for the All Blacks and part of the 2011 and 2015 Rugby World Cup winning teams

All top rugby teams in the world always have a star blindside flanker who is dubbed the ‘Enforcer’.

These enforcers include the likes of Alan Whetton, Jeremy Kaino, Jerry Collins, Owen Finegan, Sebastian Chabal, Ilivasi Tabua, Ruben Kruger and the list goes on.

In today’s Super Rugby, we have Lachlan Swinton, Rob Valetini, Seru Uru, Akira Ioane, Shannon Frizell, Tupou Vaa’i, Ethan Blackadder and so on.

Players who don the No.6 are of a rare breed.

According to Rugby Toolbox, blindside flanker must relish contact. He needs to be confrontational and tough with a ‘big tank’ that allows him to go hard out for 80 minutes.


In the scrum, if defending, the No.6 will tackle the first runner when he is defending left and the second runner when defending right, assuming the halfback has the first man.

If the play goes to the other side of the field, the blindside flanker will have decisions to make depending on a number of factors- game plan, position on field, strengths and weaknesses of his team and the opposition.


When it comes to the lineouts, many No 6’s will be the back jumper which means they will be set up mainly as the second to last man in the line or the third to last man.

Defensively his first responsibility is to tackle any player coming around the end of the lineout, preferably with a big physical hit. If the ball has been passed to the first-five his role is to fill the gap between the 10 and the passer at the end of the lineout. If the ball is passed back inside or the ball carrier cuts back then the flanker will hit the ball carrier hard.

Attacking from a lineout will provide a variety of alternatives. If the No.6 is the jumper he will not get involved again until second or third phase so once again he needs to understand his role in the continuity and the coach should be trying to set him up with a 1 v 1 opportunity.

Decision maker

However, he must be scanning and choosing the best spot – at a thin line, at a slow forward, at a small back, there might even be a gap.

Alternatively if he is not involved in the jumping group he may be in the cleanout group or may be an option after the first ruck. Whether he receives straight away or from another player can be planned and practiced or the player can use his initiative to see where and when he joins in.


When in contact, a crucial skill for the blindside flanker is being able to turn over opposition ball in the tackle either by being the tackler and getting quickly to his feet or being the first arriving player.

Tackling in close and front on will be crucial as well as being able to fulfill the tackling role in a defensive line at phase play.

This will entail being able to keep the structure in the defensive line, stay connected with his inside and outside man, and make the correct decision on whom he will tackle.

More importantly he must understand his role if he has slower players on his inside and work with that player so that they are a little unit combining together.

Then of course there are the technical requirements of front on and side on tackles to stop the man and slow the ball.

The tackle is not completed until the tackler is back on his feet and recovering the ball or taking up the space or taking up a defensive role. There is much to do.

Carrying the ball in to contact, beating a defender, keeping the ball, offloading in or through the tackle are all skills that need to be mastered for the team to maintain continuity.

It is seldom sufficient anymore just to set up a ruck so he needs practice situations where he has to make a decision based on what the defence are doing, how many numbers there are and what his support players are anticipating.


We can go on and on but in reality this is what our Swire Shipping Fijian Drua lack at the moment- a specialist No.6.

In due respect to the team, the loose forwards selected are more accustomed to playing on the openside.

These are talented athletes of Vilive Miramira, Kitione Salawa, Joseva Tamani and Meli Derenalagi.

The only player who could make an impact at No.6 is Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta who is used more at No.8 or moved up to lock.

The Flying Fijians have No.6 specialists in the form of Johnny Dyer and Albert Tuisue.


That means we’ve got the players who could fit the bill.

With the Skipper Fiji Rugby Championship now underway, there are players who have showed that they have got what it takes to play in the position.

Two, that stood out are Nadroga’s Manueli Ratuniyarawa, who came off the bench in their clash against Tailevu last Saturday and made some strong carries although he copped a yellow card in a match played under wet conditions.

He was a surprise omission from the Drua squad, after a sterling performance during the 2020 and 2021 Skipper seasons, which saw him represent the Flying Fijians at the Autumn Nations Cup.

The other was Naitasiri’s Jone Navori, who starred in their 20-5 win over Namosi at Naluwai.

Navori, who represented the Drua at the 2019 Australian National Rugby Championship (NRC) awed the crowd at Naluwai with his big hits, aggressiveness in the breakdown areas and ability to win turnover balls.

Again, it’s the Drua head coach Mick Byrne’s call, but sure enough we’ve got the players to do the job of a No.6.

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