Tactics: Chasing the kick off

Win back the ball from your kick off with two kick off options. Develop the tactics that were used by the All Blacks and Australian test teams and now adopted by more teams.

The attitude to kick-off chases used to be sharply polarised between the Hemispheres.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the preference was for long conservative kick-offs and pressurising the opponent’s exit strategy. In the South, and particularly in New Zealand and Australia, there was far more emphasis on implementing strategies to win back the ball from restarts and exploit the resulting attacking platform.

The Kiwi and Aussie methods are far more aggressive, with a much higher risk/reward element. This is how more and more teams are adjusting their kicking off tactics.


  • Split formation & spreading out the defence
    • Put the majority of forwards to one side but one outstanding aerial athlete split out to the other weaker side. This gives the kicker options to either side and spreads out the defence.

Note the athletic 8 with the backs. Fake to the “backs”, kick to forwards. Win the ball and then have a line up of backs a good running forward to attack

  • Fake one way, kick the other to beat the receiving ‘pod’
    • Fake to kick out to the weak side, creating further uncertainty on the receiving team. Then turn about and chip the other way toward the chasing forwards. Note the advantage in adjustability a single chaser has over a receiving team trying to take the ball in a two-man pod.
  • Attacking phase advantages.
    • If the ball is won, you should have a full back-line available plus a good ball-handling no.8, to spread the ball wide on the next attacking phase against a defence with a mixture of backs and forwards.
  • Flat kicks
    •  A short flat kick-off directed towards an athletic forward on the weak side. Note that kick to this side is not a chip, it needs a much flatter trajectory and stays in the air for shorter duration.

Note the kick shouldn’t be a chip kick, but a flatter kick

  • Hitting the ball in stride.
    • The idea is for the receiver to catch the ball in stride, with minimal loss of momentum and in the space between two defenders.
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