Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Redford Is There to Be a Nuisance

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Redford Is There to Be a Nuisance

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Smith

LOOK at any top rugby team and you will find that the open-side flanker is the glue that binds the whole ship together. With seven on their back - or six if you are from South Africa - these foraging forwards can both strangle opposition forays at birth or provide the oxygen for their own team's attacking flame to burn brightly. Redford Pennycook fulfilled the role for Newcastle Falcons in last weekend's 33-3 triumph over Cardiff Blues, and is in prime position to repeat the trick on Sunday at London Irish. But what exactly does an open-side do? The name stems from the fact that they ply their trade on the open side of the scrum - meaning the side with the most field to cover. So if a scrum is in the left half of the pitch, the open-side will pack down on the right and patrol the wide open spaces.

Traditionally more fleet of foot than their bulkier blind-side comrades, the duties of the open-side are largely based around being the first supporting player into a tackle where they will either look to recycle their own ball quickly, win turnover ball or slow down the speed at which the opposition team can whip the ball away for the next play.

"Basically we are there to be a nuisance," said Pennycook, summing up a shelf-full of coaching manuals in just one sentence.

Lurking at the back of the line-out, they are invariably front of the queue when it comes to pressurising clearance kicks, and should be among the fittest in the team.

The best are acknowledged as those who can get away with the most, with Pennycook revealing: "A big part of the job is pushing the officials right to the limits of the laws.

"I just stay out of their way by keeping changing my haircut on a regular basis, so they don't recognise me from previous games!

"The referees are all right, to be fair, and as a player you just have to try and build up a rapport with them. …

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