Rugby fly-half

A rugby fly-half is the highly skilled, quick thinking, tactically clever prominent player in the backs. You will see plenty of the ball, make sure you can handle it

Fly-halfs (and other names!)

You must be able to bear a lot of name calling because you`ll be called a lot of names!

Besides the one I have chosen some others for fly-half are

  • stand-off
  • stand-off half
  • five-eighth (5/8th)
  • first five-eighth (1st 5/8th)
  • outside-half
  • and fly without-a-hyphen half

You are one of the 7 'backs' in the team.

Once the 'forwards' have won the ball, it's your job to make sure the ball is used well. You are a key player.

The flyhalf is positioned behind the scrum and away from the scrumhalf like this...

Diagram shows half-backs with a scrum Half-backs with a scrum

Fly-half physiques vary greatly, skills tending to matter more.

You need a full set of abilities and skills

  • Great handling ability. The scrum-half makes a long pass you catch it on the move
  • Great vision so you can see all the options
  • Great thinking/decision making so you take the best options

  • Good speed and acceleration
  • Agility and elusiveness (ability to avoid tackles)
  • Expert kicking skills

At scrum time

There are many scrums in games. They are used to restart play after a minor rule has been broken.

When you win the scrum, the ball comes through to the back of the scrum.

The scrum-half in line with the game plan and the unfolding situation frequently passes to the fly-half.

To receive the ball you stand

  • deep enough (towards your goalline) and wide enough (away from the scrumhalf) to make it difficult for opposition tacklers (usually their flankers and flyhalf) to get to you


  • near enough for the scrum-half to give a fast, flat and accurate pass and to make it easier to get across the (imaginary) gain line

With a good scrum-half and you at fly-half, you will usually receive passes from the scrum-half out in front of you so you can run onto them, gain momentum and get an advantage.

You make decisions

From your position on the field you will have a good overall view of the game. You are at the centre of things.

You will be the main decision maker in the team.

When you get the ball you will have been reading the game. You will know what the options are

  • running to get across the advantage line or take advantage of a defensive error by the opposition

  • passing to your 'centres' or maybe to another player unexpectedly injecting themselves into the line

  • kicking for field position or into space for yourself other backs to run on to

As a rugby fly-half in the frantically changing situation of a rugby match you will be guided by

  • your ability to assess quickly any attacking advantages
  • any opposition defensive weaknesses

You must do all this yet watch for and evade, if possible, the opposition forwards who are trying to put the you on the floor!

When the other team gets the ball you must tackle any ball carriers coming your way and provide covering defence in case someone misses a tackle.

It all takes loads of practice but ensures you are on the spot, you are ready and you can do it all again!

At lineouts

When the ball 'goes into touch', play is restarted with a lineout.

It's similar to getting the ball from a scrum.

You must make good decisions about what you are going to do with the ball and be able to move quickly to make it happen.

In general play

Fly-halves tend to be more elusive, skillful, quick thinking, tactically aware players.

Your main aim of course, is always to score more points. Usually by moving the ball into the opposition ingoal area and scoring tries.

You are constantly working to drive forward, "make ground" and move the ball to the weakest area of the opposing defensive line so you can carry the ball through to score.

You will strive to get the ball over the advantage line (the imaginary line, drawn across the field, dividing the two teams)

  • by running almost straight (towards the opposition)
  • by running elusively
  • with long kicks to gain ground

  • with chip kicks to avoid opposition tacklers
  • with high "up-and-unders" for backs to charge on to
  • with grubber kicks to get in behind opponents

  • with passes to faster players in better positions
  • with cut out passes to create overlaps
  • with moves to confuse the opposition

  • with dummies to supporting players
  • with passes back inside to rampaging loose forwards
  • by looping round after passing, to create an "extra player" as often used in running rugby

At fly-half you will have many options available.

You are a good fly-half when you consistently make decisions which move the ball forwards.

With you at fly-half, mixing up the options taken (passing, kicking, running) your team has a real advantage. The other team will find it really difficult knowing what to expect next.

They will delay committing to tackles when uncertain and tend to weaken overall in their defensive patterns.

You will make it more difficult for them when you can sidestep.

Find out about flyhalf sizes.

Famous fly-halfs include...

Cliff Morgan David Watkins
Barry John Dan Carter
Hugo Porta Jonny Wilkinson
Grant Fox Andrew Mehrtens
Carlos Spencer Naas Botha
Phil Bennett Michael Lynagh
Mike Gibson Stephen Larkham
Mark Ella

Many were expert sidesteppers. Perhaps you will be the next one.

Especially if you know the ins and outs of EvtecHs