It’s incredibly important for the sake of safety and to avoid penalties / sending offs that players chasing kicks DO NOT take out players whilst in the air. Current referee guidelines – rightly so – are unforgiving where even accidental clashes occur. Chasing players cannot claim as an excuse that they had their eyes on the ball the whole time when an opponent is taken out in the air. They must be aware of the presence of other players when tracking the flight of and attempting to re-gather a kicked ball. Referees are supposed to consider situations where, say, one player falls hard because of a size mismatch and where both players fairly contested for the ball in the air. If there is any doubt, it is best to not jump and wait for the opponent to land on the ground.
Fielding a Kick
- Keep an eye on the ball and an awareness of where chasers are
- Track the flight of the ball and aim to get under it
- Taking it on the full (i.e. caught out of mid-air) is better than dealing with the unpredictability of a bounce
- Jump to contest (knee up to protect, sideways to prevent knock-on, arms up to keep eyes on the ball) if a tackle is possible or dip body when catching to take momentum out of the ball … soft hands ( allowing recoil in fingers, wrists, arms, shoulders) will do this whether jumping or standing
- Try to trap or slow down with the foot if cannot catch
- A running counter-attack is ideal, but if isolation is likely then a kick-back is best
If we’ve kicked …
· Chase your kick
· If behind kicker, chase to put team mates onside
· Organise a chasing unit, rest of team connects / covers
· Get back onside if kick was behind you (especially if within 10m of where the ball will land)
· Anticipate / read unfolding play to set up next phase
If they’ve kicked …
· Get back to help, quickly!
· Run or pass to open space quickly if the counter-attack is on
· … doing so too early, however, can invite a drift from the chasing team and isolate the counter- attacker(s)
· … solution is to run straight to fix the chasing group and then move the ball to where support has organised themselves
… into touch:
· It’s important to note where the ball was kicked…
- if from inside their 22m, the lineout is where the ball crossed the line
- if straight into touch from outside their 22m or if it was passed back across the 22m line, the lineout will be from where the ball was kicked (or anywhere in between those two spots if taking a quick throw)
- if ahead of the 22m line, but bounced out, the throw takes place where the ball crossed the line.
- In all cases, kicks from open play that go into touch result in a throw to the non-kicking team.
· If the kick was a penalty, the throw will go to the kicking team so if there’s a chance to stop the ball from going into touch, it may be wise to do so. With two feet in-bounds, a player can reach over the touchline and catch or knock the ball back into the field of play. Players can also jump and bat the ball back in while it is still in flight even if it has crossed the touchline. (CHECK!)
· A quick throw can occur if you are using the same ball and if it hasn’t been interfered with by a non-player (ETC?). The throw can be to a team mate or even to one’s self so long as it is taken at or behind the spot where the lineout will be and that it travels flat or backwards at least 5 metres. This is a wise decision if the opportunity to counter-attack is on, but not so wise if chasers are already close or present. That said, a defender cannot block the quick throw if between the 5m line and touch, and (CHECK) someone who was ahead of the kicker cannot interfere as they were in an offside position (???)
… toward the 22m line:
· If received deep in one’s own end, the player can always run the ball back but it is important supporting players track back to help as soon as possible and in as many numbers as possible because it’s likely that many players from the kicking team have organised themselves to chase. If they haven’t chased well, especially given the amount of ground that needs to be covered, a counter-attack might yield a lot of territory. If the chase is good, the receiver can always kick back and try and find space behind the opposing team.
· If ahead of the 22m line, a ball kicked straight into touch will result in a lineout (or even quick throw if not prepared!) to the opposition’s team in line with the spot the ball was kicked. If the ball bounces in the field of play and then into touch, the lineout will take place where the ball crossed the line.
· If kicked inside the 22m area, and if the ball is caught cleanly, the receiver can call a ‘mark’ and have a free kick from the point without being tackled. The player can wait for team mates to get onside and has to take the free kick his- or herself, but can tap and pass to a better kicker. If there’s more time to do something with the ball, it can be kicked to touch for a lineout where it crosses the line or kept inbounds for an attempt at a re-gather or to pressure the opposition.
· If received ahead of the 22m line and the desire is to kick out for a lineout upfield, it is important to remember that this does not apply if the ball is passed back into the 22m area. The ball can be passed back, and if one tackle occurs inside the 22m area, the ball can then be kicked out from that breakdown with the desired result (teams doing this usually pass to a pod of forwards with the ball carrier going straight to ground and support forming a strong ruck for a box kick or pass back punt).
· If kicked in-goal, the ball can be touched down for a 22m restart or kicked dead if under pressure (cannot throw or bat the ball out of bounds!). Touching the ball down can be a pick up and put down, touching the ball while it’s on the ground, or falling on it when under extreme pressure.
· If kicked beyond the dead ball line or touch-in-goal, have the option of a 22m restart (best if the ball was kicked by the attacking team within the 22m area) or a scrum from where the ball was kicked (usually the ideal option, unless your scrum is likely to lose!)