England has a storied rugby tradition, and its flankers have consistently been the driving force behind their success. These exceptional players have epitomized the spirit, skill, and resilience that English rugby is known for. In this article, we delve into the careers of five of the best English flankers of all time, celebrating their remarkable achievements, exploring their backgrounds, analyzing their physical attributes, examining their career statistics, and uncovering what made them truly special.
1. Richard Hill: The Silent Hero
Achievements: Richard Hill, fondly known as “Hill the Flanker,” was a linchpin of the English rugby team during a highly successful era. With 71 caps for England, Hill was instrumental in their Rugby World Cup victory in 2003. His ability to secure turnovers, make critical tackles, and provide unwavering support in both attack and defense set him apart.
Background and Physical Stats: Born in Hillingdon, England, in 1973, Richard Hill was introduced to rugby at a young age. Standing at 6 feet 3 inches (191 cm) and weighing approximately 105 kg (231 lbs), Hill possessed the physicality and athleticism required for the demanding flanker role. His dedication to fitness and an unyielding work ethic were evident throughout his career.
Career Stats and What Made Him Special: Richard Hill’s ability to make crucial turnovers at the breakdown and his defensive prowess made him a standout flanker. He was a tireless worker on the field, often doing the dirty work that went unnoticed but was vital for the team’s success. What made him special was his composure under pressure and his ability to excel in big-match scenarios, particularly during the 2003 Rugby World Cup, where his contributions were indispensable.
2. Neil Back: The Energizer Bunny
Achievements: Neil Back was a dynamic English flanker who made a significant impact on the national team’s success. With 66 caps for England, Back played an essential role in their 2003 Rugby World Cup triumph. His incredible work rate, versatility, and ability to support the team in both attack and defense made him a standout player.
Background and Physical Stats: Born in Coventry, England, in 1969, Neil Back demonstrated his rugby talents from an early age. Standing at 6 feet (183 cm) and weighing approximately 91 kg (200 lbs), he was known for his agility and speed. Back’s relentless energy on the field, often compared to that of the “Energizer Bunny,” was one of his defining characteristics.
Career Stats and What Made Him Special: Neil Back’s exceptional work rate, his ability to secure turnovers, and his strong link play with the backline made him a special flanker. He was equally comfortable playing openside or blindside flanker, showcasing his versatility. What made him special was his ability to cover ground quickly, his fearless approach to the game, and his knack for being in the right place at the right time, making him a crucial asset to the England team.
3. Lawrence Dallaglio: The Powerhouse
Achievements: Lawrence Dallaglio was a powerhouse English flanker whose contributions to the national team were immense. With 85 caps for England, he played a crucial role in their Rugby World Cup victory in 2003. Dallaglio’s formidable presence in the forward pack, his ball-carrying ability, and his leadership qualities set him apart.
Background and Physical Stats: Born in London, England, in 1972, Lawrence Dallaglio was a talented rugby prospect from his youth. Standing at 6 feet 4 inches (193 cm) and weighing approximately 114 kg (251 lbs), he possessed the size and strength to dominate in the back row. Dallaglio’s physicality and power were his hallmarks, making him a feared opponent on the field.
Career Stats and What Made Him Special: Lawrence Dallaglio’s ability to gain yards through his powerful ball-carrying and his commanding presence in the forward pack made him a special flanker. He was known for his leadership as both a player and a captain, guiding England to success on numerous occasions. What made him special was his resilience, his unrelenting commitment to the team’s cause, and his ability to inspire those around him, making him one of England’s most iconic flankers.
4. Tom Curry: The Rising Star
Achievements: Tom Curry is a rising star in English rugby, known for his exceptional skills and work ethic. As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, he had earned over 30 caps for England and played a key role in their forward pack. Despite his youth, Curry had already become a crucial component of the team’s success.
Background and Physical Stats: Born in Crewe, England, in 1998, Tom Curry burst onto the rugby scene at a young age. Standing at 6 feet (183 cm) and weighing around 102 kg (225 lbs), he possessed the physical attributes required for his position. Curry’s unique blend of strength, speed, and technical ability set him apart as a modern-day flanker.
Career Stats and What Made Him Special: Tom Curry’s exceptional abilities at the breakdown, his work rate, and his versatility made him a standout young flanker. He was equally comfortable playing openside or blindside and had the ability to make game-changing turnovers. What made him special was his fearless approach to the game, his willingness to put his body on the line, and his potential to become one of England’s greatest flankers in the years to come.
5. Lewis Moody: The Relentless Warrior
Achievements: Lewis Moody, known as “Mad Dog,” was a relentless English flanker who gave his all on the field. With 71 caps for England, he played a pivotal role in their 2003 Rugby World Cup victory. Moody was known for his fearless tackling, relentless work rate, and never-say-die attitude.
Background and Physical Stats: Born in Ascot, England, in 1978, Lewis Moody embodied the warrior spirit of rugby. Standing at 6 feet 1 inch (185 cm) and weighing around 102 kg (225 lbs), he had the physicality and aggression required for his position. Moody’s relentless energy and unwavering commitment to the game made him a fan favorite.
Career Stats and What Made Him Special: Lewis Moody’s ability to disrupt opposition play through his tackling and his capacity to secure crucial turnovers were his defining attributes. He was known for his leadership as well, captaining England on several occasions. What made him special was his warrior mentality, his resilience in the face of adversity, and his willingness to do whatever it took to ensure victory for his team.
These legendary English flankers have left an indelible mark on the world of rugby. Their remarkable achievements, unique physical attributes, and unwavering dedication to the England rugby team have cemented their places among the greatest flankers in the sport’s history.