Gone are the days when the forwards lined up in scrum formation to receive the kick off. Most rugby sides will aim to have two teams of catchers and supporters (pods 1 and 2 in the picture below) to cover the "kick off pressure triangle".
In this article, taken from my Match Day Tactics report, I look at your best options to cover a regular kick off.
Assuming a normal kick off, there are two areas to concentrate on: the "kick off pressure triangle" and the "unopposed kick circle".
1. Kick off pressure triangle
Here teams would expect to be under pressure from chasing defenders. The catchers and their supporters would need to move forward and into the ball. Any confusion on which "pod" should catch the ball should be resolved by the "receipt team" leader.
2. Unopposed kick circle
The ball is unlikely to drop on the catcher at the same time as the chaser. Pod 2 would work back to support any runners, as soon as the ball passes over their heads.
Securing the ball
A team must first secure the kick off before contemplating what to do next. It requires a mixture of unit organisation and player skills. The coach needs to identify the "receipt team", a team within a team (like a jumping pod in the lineout) whose first focus is good, clean ball. The receipt team comprises:
- Designated catchers: The players who make the ground to catch the ball. Lock forwards have often been the choice for this position, though preference must be given to the best catchers under pressure. Few sides can lift their receivers, so height can make a difference, but it could just as well be a winger as some one from the pack.
- Designated supporters: These players shadow the catcher. When the catcher is under extreme pressure, they immediately relieve them of the ball. This is because they will be in a stronger position to take contact. Otherwise they will bind on, or be the first to the contact situation should the catcher have a chance to run.
- Receipt team leader and back stop catcher: This player will stand in the 22m area and direct proceedings. When the kick off is taken they will shout the name of the player who should go for the ball. Then all the other players can react accordingly. They also act as the "back stop catcher" should the ball be hit very long.
Using the ball
Once the ball is caught then other players need to be ready to take the kick off receipt to the next stage.
- Short runners: Players in a position to take a quick pass immediately after the first contact situation – this could be the receipt team leader. There also needs to be a player (a forward) to run into position to receive a pass from the scrum half or fly half.
- Midfield decision maker: A player who judges if the ball needs to go wide straight away. This will occur if the ball is secured with little pressure, and so can be moved quickly to the opposite side of the pitch.
Where should each player stand?
- Pod 1: The longer the kick is likely to be (depending on the kicker, wind, hardness of ground), the further towards the touchline pod 1 should stand. However the players should be no further than 5 metres from the 10 metre line.
- Pod 2: About 5 to 10 metres inside pod 1 and at least 5 metres backwards.
- No. 2 (the hooker): 5 metres back from the 10m line and probably 5 metres inside the near goalpost.
- No. 6 (blindside flanker): On the touchline, on the 22m line, ready to come forward.
- No. 7 (openside flanker): On or in front of the 22m line.
- No. 8: Inside the 22m line depending on the length of kick expected.
- No. 9 (scrum half): On the 22m line between the pods.
- Winger: Inside the 22m area on the touchline.
- The midfield decision maker: Stands to take a pass from the fly half and decide whether to kick or run.
This article is taken from my report Match Day Tactics to Give Your Team an Edge. Containing a powerful arsenal of match tactics, the report covers a potent armoury of tips, advice, tactics, and techniques to surprise, outwit and fox your opposition, turning a match in your favour. It includes a battery of pre-match planning and organisational tactics which will put you and your team mentally ahead, even before the whistle blows.
Click here to read more and to order your copy today. Match Day Tactics is available to download immediately as a PDF or by post as a printed copy.