LineoutCoach Rugby Rules looks at how to make your kicks count.
Place Kickers have a tough task. As if having the pressure of converting crucial points with your team, the opposition, and the crowd all watching wasn’t enough, you have to take on the elements too. The weather is one of the biggest factors that impacts on kicking success rates, specifically the wind, and this is one of the best examples of Mother Nature playing her part in a game.
I caught up with my former team mate Felipe Contepomi for the rugby coaching book I’m writing and it reminded me of a key incident when he was kicking for Leinster which was responsible for a law change in the game.
Conditions were awful for the game between Connacht and Leinster held at the Galway team’s ground in 2008. The kicker for the visitors, Argentinian Felipe Contepomi was an experienced player and even though the penalty kick was only 18 metres in front of the posts he took every precaution in the windy conditions, getting a team mate to hold the ball in place incase the wind blew it over.
As the video showed he was right to worry about the wind blowing the ball back as his successful kick was returned to earth on the wrong side of the posts. A Connacht player scrambled for the ball and kicked it clear but the referee George Clancy correctly blew for the score.
As amazing and rare as this incident might appear it, is covered by the rugby laws, specifically 9.A.2 (b) which states
‘If the ball has crossed the crossbar a goal is scored, even if the wind blows it back into the field of play.’
While knowing this law is unlikely to gain you many points, unless you are kicking into the wind at Connacht on a blustery day, it is worth refreshing your knowledge of the laws around place kicks. Having a team mate hold the ball which Contepomi took advantage of or knowing time limits for kicks or understanding the laws on charging could make a difference in your next match.
When is a Kick at Goal a Kick at Goal
Refer to Law 9 of the IRB Laws
9.A.2 Kick at goal – special circumstances
(a) If after the ball is kicked, it touches the ground or any team-mate of the kicker, a goal cannot be scored.
(b) If the ball has crossed the crossbar a goal is scored, even if the wind blows it back into the field of play.
(c) If an opponent commits an offence as the kick at goal is being taken, but neverthless the kick is successful, advantage is played and the score stands.
(d) Any player who touches the ball in an attempt to prevent a penalty goal being scored is illegally touching the ball.
Sanction: Penalty kick
9.B CONVERSION KICK
9.B.1 Taking a conversion kick
(a) The kicker must use the ball that was in play unless it is defective.
(b) The kick is taken on a line through the place where the try was scored in the field of play.
(c) A team mate may hold the ball for the kicker to kick.
(d) The kicker may place the ball directly on the ground or on sand, sawdust or a kicking tee approved by the Union. No other form of assistance may be used.
(e) The kicker must take the kick within one minute and thirty seconds (ninety seconds) from the time a try has been awarded. The player must take the kick within one minute and thirty seconds even if the ball rolls over and has to be placed again.
Sanction: The kick is disallowed if the kicker does not take the kick within the time allowed.
9.B.2 The kicker’s team
(a) All the kicker’s team, except the placer, must be behind the ball when it is kicked.
(b) Neither the kicker nor a placer must do anything to mislead their opponents into charging too soon.
(c) If the ball falls over before the kicker begins the approach to kick, the referee permits the kicker to replace it without excessive delay. While the ball is replaced, the opponents must stay behind their goal line.
If the ball falls over after the kicker begins the approach to kick, the kicker may then kick or attempt a dropped goal.
If the ball falls over and rolls away from the line through the place where the try was scored, and the kicker then kicks the ball over the crossbar, a goal is scored.
If the ball falls over and rolls into touch after the kicker begins the approach to kick, the kick is disallowed.
Sanction: (a)-(c) If the kicker’s team infringes, the kick is disallowed.
9.B.3 The opposing team
(a) All players of the opposing team must retire to their goal line and must not overstep that line until the kicker begins the approach to kick or starts to kick. When the kicker does this, they may charge or jump to prevent a goal but must not be physically supported by other players in these actions.
(b) When the ball falls over after the kicker began the approach to kick, the opponents may continue to charge.
(c) A defending team must not shout during a kick at goal.
Sanction: (a)-(c) If the opposing team infringes but the kick is successful, the goal stands.
If the kick is unsuccessful, the kicker may take another kick and the opposing team is not allowed to charge.
When another kick is allowed, the kicker may repeat all the preparations. The kicker may change the type of kick.
Why not test yourself on the rugby laws and take the online IRB exam today.
I can also recommend signing up for the IRB Coaching website which is a great resource and their monthly newsletter keeps you up to date with any changes.
Gavin Hickie, USA Rugby Collegiate All-Americans Forwards Coach, is a former Ireland A & 7s, Leinster and Leicester rugby player now Head Coach of Dartmouth Rugby. He writes for RugbyToday.com and other publications when not coaching and blogging on lineoutcoach.com