Kit Shepard takes a look at the man under that red scrum cap

Who is Josh van der Flier: Ten things you should know about the Ireland flanker

Josh van der Flier is a breakdown menace for Ireland and Leinster.

The openside flanker of Dutch descent has displayed an impeccable work ethic on and off the field.

Ten things you should know about Josh van der Flier

1. Josh van der Flier was born on 25 April 1993 in Wicklow, Leinster. His surname is courtesy of his Dutch grandparents, who moved to Ireland in the 1950s to start a radiator factory.

2. His distinctive red scrum cap dates to his school days. A boarder at Wesley college, he chose his headgear colour to match the school’s kit.

In an interview with Leinster Rugby in 2016, van der Flier said: “From then on people knew me as the lad with the red scrum cap so I decided never to change it.”

3. Van der Flier played scrum-half at school until he turned 16, when a growth spurt moved him into the forwards.

4. He holds a first-class Master of Business Administration from the Dublin Business School, which he completed in 2020 whilst playing for Ireland.

5. He rose through the Leinster academy ranks before making his debut for the senior team in October 2014. His first try for the club came in November 2015 against Bath in the European Champions Cup.

6. The 2015/16 campaign was a breakthrough year for van der Flier, as he made 18 appearances and was named in the Pro12 team of the season.

7. Van der Flier won his first Ireland cap in the Six Nations against England in March 2016.

He was denied a debut try by a close TMO call and would have to wait until June 2017 to break his duck with a score against Japan.

8. When the Covid-19 pandemic shut Leinster training facilities in 2020, van der Flier moved in with team-mate Peter Dooley and built a makeshift gym in the back garden.

The improvisation paid off, as he was man of the match in the rearranged Pro14 Final that September.

9. Legendary All Blacks openside Richie McCaw’s book altered van der Flier’s perspective on back-row play.

Speaking to RugbyPass in 2019, he said: “[McCaw] said he stopped looking at the number of turnovers he got but looked at how effective he was with the number of chances he had.

“That’s probably more the way I’d look at it now.”

10. He starred in Ireland’s 2021 Autumn Nations Series, starting in the 29-20 defeat of New Zealand before scoring twice in the win over Argentina a week later.

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