The gain line is the line on a rugby field you are always attempting to cross.
You will never see it. You just have to know where it is.
Where is the line that must be crossed
During a rugby game there are many times when a contest for possession of
the ball is taking place. These contests for the ball include scrums,
line-outs and breakdowns in play.
In any of these situations the gain line is an imaginary line from one side
of the field to the other which passes through the ball and is at right
angles to the touch. In effect it defines the area of the field that
each team occupies.
Gain line on a rugby field
Why cross the line
Rugby is a game of conquest. When the game starts or restarts both teams occupy
one half of the field and attack the other half. Your aim is to move the ball
all the way through your opponents` half and get points for a try by grounding the
ball on or over their try line. The more times you can do that, the more
likely you are to win.
This rarely happens in one swift movement. Usually the game ebbs and flows.
First one team then the other makes ground. You attempt to keep pressuring
the opposing team by occupying more and more of their territory until you
finally break through and score.
Building momentum in attack
Crossing the line shows clearly that you are making progress. It also helps
support players to flow easily "through the gate" to assist the
ball carrier and so building momentum. Defenders have a longer, slower and
more difficult route to assist the tacklers at the breakdown, making it
increasingly difficult to resist the attack.
How crossing the line helps you win
In general, setting goals or targets and measuring your
performance against those goals can help you achieve the results you want.
It`s helpful if you have a series of small goals (get the ball carrier accross
the gain line), rather than one big goal (win the game). In this way you know
how well your team is performing by whether or not you are meeting your
If you are not meeting your small goals it shows you need to change tactics
or improve your current performance. Having a number of smaller goals means
the warning signs tend to show early enough to make changes and still win,
So, keeping in mind that you want to get the ball carrier over the gain line
(sometimes called the advantage line) helps you keep focused on gaining ground,
pressuring the opposition and building momentum.
Add in a little patience and you are a long way to winning more games!
Crossing the advantage line up the middle
What you choose to do with the ball has a big bearing on whether or not you
get the ball carrier over the line.
In all cases your shortest route to get the ball carrier across the line
is straight forward. Unfortunately that is also usually the hardest route.
When there is a contest for the ball there is usually a concentration of players.
Going straight forward, virtually through the middle of the mass is hard.
The ball carrier has to be powerful, tricky or lucky to advance the
ball. It does happen.
when play breaks down a metre out from the goal line, barging one metre
over the advantage line could result in a try - worth giving it a go,
particularly with several players combining
a linout close to the opposition goal-line is an opportunity for a tricky
move - it happens and it works
a 5 metre scrum is an opportunity for a push over try, well worth
the effort a good example of controlling the ball and gaining ground
without an actual ball carrier
Crossing the advantage line wider out
The alternative is to move the ball to places where the defence is weaker and
you can breach it more easily or simply run around it.
As you are not allowed to pass the ball forwards you usually pass it backwards
to some degree. This means whenever you pass the ball you are passing it to
someone who has further to travel to gain ground than you do.
Adding to the problem is that while your team is passing the ball, the other
team is rushing towards you and may well stop the ball carrier well before any
ground has been gained. You are then losing ground and momentum. In situations
like this it may be better to accept the tackle, regroup and start again.
You can see how important it is that you aim to gain ground repeatedly.
Ways you do this include
employing "running rugby" tactcis of shallow player alignment,
looping support and use of cut out passes
you have superior individual evasion skills to change running lines
suddenly and unexpectedly
you use planned moves to hide real intentions, create overlaps and
put runners through gaps
Often players are told to "concentrate" - a difficult thing to do
if no mention is made of what to concentrate on!.Bear this in mind -
concentrate on geting the ball carrier gaining ground by getting them over
the gain line.