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Position guide: Fly-half

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Jonathan Davies
By Jonathan Davies
Former Wales and Lions fly-half

Rugby may have changed over the past 12 years but the basic skills of the fly-half are still the same.

The fly-half - or outside-half, stand-off or first five-eighth, depending on which part of the world you are from - orchestrates the attack and defence of a team.

Think of them as the general; running the game, bossing the forwards while keeping the depth of the backs.

Stephen Jones in action during a Wales training session
Someone like Jones controls the game exceptionally well and bosses everyone around

However they tend to be a lot tougher now than in the past as opposition teams like to target attacking the channel between the number 10 and 12.

As a consequence players like England's Jonny Wilkinson or Stephen Jones of Wales now make as many tackles as the back-row.

But the best outside-halves control the tempo of a game.

There are all different types of outside-halves in world rugby, but it's no coincidence the best teams in the world have the best number 10s in the world.

You've only got to look at New Zealand's Daniel Carter.

He doesn't need to control things as much as other stand-offs because the All Blacks are so far in front of anyone else at the moment.

Someone like Jones controls the game exceptionally well and bosses everyone around, as does Ireland's Ronan O'Gara, who has matured and is playing the best rugby of his life.

Australia's Stephen Larkham is a different type of outside-half who is more of an attacking threat, running different angles and distributing better passes than other outside-halves.

But they all share the same fantastic basic skills and awareness.

As the game has gone more professional, some players look over-coached and lack that spontaneity of the past greats like Mark Ella, Barry John or John Rutherford.

You need a bit of spark and ingenuity, which usually comes down to the way a fly-half reads a game.


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