A rugby kick-off takes place when you start or restart a rugby game
- know where you kick the ball and why - it`s important!
Starting and restarting
You start each half of the game with a
You also restart in the same manner after each score.
All players must be
behind the ball when it`s kicked - so always stay behind the kicker!
If you`re the kicker, be sure all players are behind you before you kick.
These kicks are taken from the middle of the field
kick-off at the start of the game
kick-off when the game is resumed after half time
re-starts after each occasion points are scored
The 10m line indicates how far the ball must travel when the kick is taken.
Read about the 10m
line on the rugby field page
If the ball is blown back it still counts.
The opposition may choose
to play the ball even if it hasn't travelled the required distance.
When the ball has been 'made dead' in the ingoal area the game is
restarted with a drop kick on the 22 metre line.
It`s called a 'drop out' and can be taken anywhere along the 22 metre line
or behind it and all players must be behind the kicker.
For a '22 drop out' the drop kick simply has to cross the line before it can
be caught or picked up.
For the kick-off from the centre of the half-way line you have
a number of options
Long kick-off. Kick deep into the opposition half - good gain in ground
but little chance of getting possession when the ball lands. Opposition
can kick the ball back or run it back before you get there. Your
initial gain in ground may be reduced. You may even find the ball
back, deep in your own half.
Short kick-off. Kick the minimum permitted distance - not much gain in ground,
you risk the ball not going the required 10 metres but you have a real
opportunity to re-gain control of the ball before
the opposition can catch it
Kick to around opposition 22 - reasonable gain in ground,
not much chance of regaining possession but in a good position
to start applying pressure by keeping the opposition pinned in
their own 22 metre area
Kick to the side where the forwards are massed - safest option
but exactly what is expected by the opposition
Kick to the less defended side - hoping to catch the opposition
off guard allowing fast team mates to scoop up the ball and
take advantage of a defensive lapse. Risky, used fairly rarely,
maybe when a quick score is needed
Keep the other side guessing - vary your kick - but make sure your
players know where it`s going!
Player positioning for a rugby kick-off
The attacking team knows where the ball is going. The defending team has to guess
but is guided by the positioning of the attacking players.
When it`s your kick-off you will tend to kick so as to put the ball in front of the
bulk of your forwards. This will improve your chances of regaining possession and
reduce the risk of defenders breaking through when carrying the ball back, out
You also aim to cover right accross the field with your
backs. This allows for the odd surprise attack and ensures the
opposition have no easy route out of their territory when returning the kick.
All players must be behind the kicker when the kick is made. Then
you charge up the field, maintaininng your position relative to your team mates
so as to provide a solid defensive pattern.
At the same time you must ensure that you advance at a rate and in a pattern
that allows you to guard your own territory from advancing punting or
chip kicking opposition players.
Actual player positioning on the ground for a rugby kick-off is normally similar to
the pattern of the scrum/backs positioning at scrum time. The attacking team
locks will tend to lead the charge for the ball because they are tallest and
have the best chance of regaining possession.
A popular ploy is to sent your faster runners after the kick. They leap for the
ball and tap it backwards to following support players.
The tap-back can be made at a greater height than an actual catch.
The defending team will tend to mirror the attacking team positioning. At
higher levels defenders may be positiond slightly differently so that locks
can be lifted to receive the kick.
Players about to receive kick-off
Above, player numbers have been added to the original image
This gives a clear indication of how team members are allocated positions
at the kick-off, offering defence over the whole field.
Players tend to be positioned at the farther limits of their area as
it is always easier to move towards the ball and catch it.
At this high level of rugby several potential pods of players have been
positioned, each with a tall jumper and a stockier lifter/supporter.
They are 3(prop) and 5(lock) for the shorter kick-off. For the longer kick,
1(prop) and 4(lock). For a kick down the centre, flankers 6 and 7.
Players adjust to landing spot
When the ball has been kicked and the landing spot can be predicted,
players adjust their positions and roles.
In the above image it has become clear the ball is going to the players on the
22m line so players in front are moving to support and assist.
Players at the centre and far side of the field adjust their positions so as
to be behind the ball and able to assist in moving the ball.
They will also be 'on-side' and able to chase if a clearing kick is made.
Players combine to catch kick-off
In the above image the player going to catch the ball is now also assisted by the
lifter no longer needed in the 3,5 player pairing.
Other players continue to fall back in support.
Frame grabs from Channel 10 coverage of Australia v Republic of South Africa, a
Rugby Championship match on September 7th, 2013.