Clarifying the rules for kicking

In an issue of Better Rugby Coaching some years ago, I described how Mark Ring assisted with a try by using his knee. From a five-metre scrum near the Bath line, Ring took the ball at fly half, banged it onto his rising right knee, sending it over the centre's heads for Ring's team mate, the inside centre (12), to score under the posts.

Within hours of posting the story, I received several emails, pointing out the laws of rugby. These brought the realisation that my story could be encouraging teams to break the laws of the game, but also made me consider how this law is not widely known.

By way of a test, I called upon my colleague Paul Reed, a former Saracens centre and now a County Coach with Surrey Under-18s. I took a ball, jogged towards him and then hit the ball at him with my right knee.

"What was wrong with that?" I asked, as he gathered the ball.

"It wasn’t high enough to get over me," he replied, quite oblivious to any sense that I was knocking on.

A quick survey of other rugby coaches also showed a general lack of awareness of this particular law. So for the record, the Rugby Law Book states:

Kick: A kick is made by hitting the ball with any part of the leg or foot, except the heel, from the toe to the knee but not including the knee; a kick must move the ball a visible distance out of the hand, or along the ground.

So there you have it. Ring's action worked as a ploy to put the ball over the defence, but it was an illegal one. This goes for a quick tap penalty as well. You cannot knee the ball to constitute a kick.

Thanks to subscribers Dave McLennan, Ian Dallas and Martin Keylock for spotting the mistake and for providing feedback, and to David Jagoe, who remembered his playing partner, Peter Richie, of 1950 vintage, producing the very same kick (or should I now say knock on)!

This article is taken from the Better Rugby Coaching e-newsletter. Click here to sign up and get free rugby drills and skills twice a week.

Click here for rugby coaching tips to improve the kicking game. 

Share this
Follow us