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'I'd have said a firm 'no' in his position' - Flatman applauds prop for refusing to play hooker

By Ian Cameron
David Flatman (Photo by Alex Davidson - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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Former England prop David Flatman has applauded a fellow frontrower for refusing to play at hooker, despite the suggestion from his team manager.

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Wasps loosehead Tom West refused to scrummage at hooker when asked by referee Wayne Barnes, after both of his side’s available hookers were injured.

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Flatman, who has turned his hand to commentating and analysis since ending his career, suggested West had made the right decision, a decision he would have made himself.

“Wasps doctor [later clarified as team manager] says West the prop happy to switch to hooker after both selected hookers get injured. When asked by the ref, West says he isn’t comfortable after all. Very odd situation…”

Flatman was asked had he been placed in a similar situation and what his response was/would have been.

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In the replies, one Tweeter was asked when the positions had become so specialised, and was quickly shot down by current England and Leicester Tigers prop Ellis Genge, who responded: “I just can’t believe you’ve said that”

With the increasing size of rugby players and an understanding of the severe risks posed and gigantic forces involved in playing in the front row, many agreed with Flatman’s observation and support for West. Others chipped in with their own stories of refusing to play hooker, or circumstances in which they had objected to others switching position.

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One man tweeted: “Popped two discs filling in at hooker from the back row at 18 years old. Didn’t have a clue what I was doing and lucky it wasn’t worse. Effectively ended my rugby career before it began.”

Another posted that he had stepped in when a young teammate was about to be put in against a grizzled veteran.

“I got into a raging argument with the opposition players yrs ago in Norway, we lost 2 props and the only player left on the bench was a 16yr old playing his first game ever. I refused to let him scrummage against a 35yr Scottish behemoth. Almost came to blows. Ref took my side”.

Scrummaging is widely considering to be one of the most potentially dangerous pursuits in the game, although severe injuries are thankfully rare. Injuries sustained following circumstances in which players played out of position in the scrum have resulted in civil cases, with referees being held to account.

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