Sunday, 15 May 2011

Understanding rugby union - Kicking out of hand

In rugby union, outside of ball-carrying and passing the ball, the third main option when in possession is for the player to kick the ball out of their hands. When the kicker kicks the ball, all the kickers team-mates who are chasing the ball, must have been behind the kicker when the kick took place. The main tactical kickers in the team are usually the outhalf, scrumhalf and the fullback, but most of the backs will kick the ball at some stage during a match. A player may choose to kick the ball for a variety of reasons.

1.They may have become isolated from the rest of their team-mates and need to kick to avoid loosing possession.
2. They may kick to gain 'territory'. This means kicking the ball into the oppositions half of the field in the hope they will regain possession further down the field from where the kick took place.
3. A player may kick the ball to regather it himself further towards the oppositions in-goal area.
4. A confident kicker of the ball may kick the ball as a pass to a team-mate in a better position.

There are a number of different methods of kicking the ball, some are listed below.

Punt to touch
This is a long kick out over the touch line, taken usually as a defensive option. The objective of this kick is to gain territory over the touch line in the direction of the other teams in-goal area. If this kick is performed in open play or from a free kick the resulting lineout will go to the opposition. If this kick is performed when the team has been awarded a penalty the resulting will be awarded to the kickers team. There are two types of punt kicks the spiral kick and the 'on end kick'.

Spiral Kick
The spiral kick is still the best option to achieve maximum distance. This is when the kicker puts a spin on the ball by kicking through the ball at a 30 degree angle to give the ball better aerodynamics. 

On End Kick
The on end kick has become increasingly popular in rugby because of its greater accuracy. It is performed by kicking the ball on one of it's ends rather than kicking the ball on it's side.

An up-and-under kick is a long high kick in the middle in the hope one of the kickers team-mates will win the chase for the ball. It is a risky kick as the ball could bounce anywhere if it hits the ground due to the shape of the ball. It's main aim is to cause uncertainty among the oppositions defence and is likely to be performed when a team is desperate for a try and their other options do not seem to be working.

Grubber Kick
A grubber kick is usually executed close to the oppositions in-goal area. It is a kick along the ground with the hope that the kicker or one of his team-mates regathers the ball in order to score a try. A grubber kick will roll and bounce along the ground making it difficult for the opposition to gather. It also turns the oppositions defence giving the kickers team-mates running from deep a good chance to gather the possession.

Kick Pass
Kicking can also be used as a means of passing the ball from one player to another. This offensive kick is usually performed cross-field when the opposition defensive line is narrow in the hope the intended receiver would gather the ball and score a try.

Drop Kick
A drop is a kicked when the ball is dropped towards the ground and the kicker kicks the ball just after it impacts with the ground. This kick has to be performed from the halfway line in order to start the match at the beginning of the match and after half time. It is also performed after the opposition team has scored and when a player ground the ball in his own '22' resulting in a '22' drop out. A drop kick can also be performed to score a drop at goal to gain 3 points for the team. This is a drop kick between the opposing teams goalposts and which goes over the crossbar.

To learn more about the rules and gameplay rugby union, click one of the links below:

Ruby Union Gameplay and Rules
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