what makes the modern fly half
The pack clashes generating enough force to crumple a small car as the scrum half rolls the ball through the channel. One of the hookers strikes the ball back. the scrum half picks the ball from between the eights feet and swings it out to the ten. The crowd are engulfed by every twitch of his muscle trying to predict what flair he will add to the pitch, will it be a drop goal, a unpredictable grubber or a large miss pass or will he keep it simple. That question is what is asked every time the ball is given to Marcus Smith, George Ford, Finn Russel, Handrè Pollard or Romaine Ntmack and many others. So this raises the question, is flair the key component for a modern day fly half?
Flair is a word associated with players like Brian O'Driscoll, Dan Carter and Sonny Bill Williams. But what is Flair? Flair has two dictionary definitions the first definition describes flair as a special or instinctive aptitude or ability for doing something well, the second definition describes Flair as stylish and original. I would argue the flair we talk about in rugby is a mixture of these two definitions, Flair in rugby is a stylish and original style of play that is preformed in a special way that seems second nature to the player.
So now that we have defined flair, we must try and understand why it is such a desired characteristic in a fly halves. To realise why this mystic ability is so desired in the 10 jersey you have to look no further then Finn Russell's master class when he was finally released on the springboks during his stint with the lions this year; he managed to give the lions momentum and flow, something they had been lacking. If you want another example of flair being the weapon of choice against the world champions you could watch England's game against the Boks from the autumn international where Marcus Smith seemed to pull all the strings while also giving a extremely valuable lesson to all young fly half about how to be creative. If these examples don't suffice you could look at the amazing performance Romain Ntmack gave against the all blacks this year where France seemed to make the notorious kiwis look like boys against men.
so is Flair what makes a modern fly half world class? no is the simple answer. you could watch flair be preformed and go "wow'' as the player throws a out the back offload 10 meters to his support player but the only reason that player has that option is because he reads the game and he has mastered the basics. So yes Flair makes players look world class and is a great thing for the toolbox of any ten, but the flair is not soul what makes a world class modern fly half. Read of the game and mastering of basics are the most important attributes for a fly half in my humble onion and the star dust nuggets that are flair is just the by product of tactical understanding and very strong use of the basics.
So it seems that the flashy footwork and crazy ideas that make up flair will always be towered over by the true things that make a fly half amazing.