jueves, 23 de mayo de 2013


When a team uses a kicking game against you, suddenly there are factors that are out of your hands, and having people run at your defence is something that on a good day, you can counter time after time – but when the lovely shaped oval ball hits the heavens, even the best hands and the best positioning won’t guarantee what is romantically called defusing a bomb.

A bomb is actually an accurate description, for if it lands without the defensive (catching) team ready – that is they either catch it or effectively gather off a bounce – then the well drilled attacking side can use the kick with devastating efficiency and Test rugby has proven that such a tactic, even if used repetitively, can win a match.

Countering it goes far beyond being able to catch the ball, although this is something that even the best players in the world can forget to do.

As an individual, as complicated it may seem, a player must have a quick mental checklist that rattles off if a ball comes their way.


THE APPROACHING ATTACKING TEAM MEANS NOTHING (that is, you cannot think about getting hit!)



DECISION TO JUMP (that can begin counterattacks or shield a player due to illegal tackling in the air)


The pure act of the catch can be varied, from a static receive, to an absorbing take (where you move your catching hands once caught with the motion of the ball), and the only way this can be truly coached is ensuring a healthy number of balls head to the heavens during training.

Of course, it is possible to stop a kicking game, as relentless as it can be, before it even begins.

THE RUCK is so crucial an area, one where the game is effectively controlled. Some tactical kicking games are even based around the oppositions ruck, and from here your forward pack has a far greater chance of negating, especially if you go one step further and appoint a ‘tagger’, that is a forward whose mission isn’t so much ruck contesting as marking the enemy number nine.

EYES AND COMMUNICATE is as always crucial, for often the players who might attack a kicker won’t know or be in the position to do it themselves. NEVER EVER hesitate as a coach to ensure that there are no false alarms when it comes to warning about kicks. Always watch for it.

COUNTER IT WITH DEVASTATION is always the best way to ultimately defuse a kicking game. If you are catching and counterattacking everything a team throws at you, it won’t be persevered with, or even better, some sides may be so reliant on such a style that if they cannot effectively execute it, they could lose the game.

If a kicking game cannot be stopped, and that oval shaped pill begins to scrape the clouds, you must prepare!

YOUR INITIAL SETUP can consist of having your wingers hang back as pseudo fullbacks, but this needs to be an adaptable plan as obviously more space is created on the fringes, but regardless these days you often see teams having at least one player support the fullback more often than not on defence. Player positioning becomes trickier if the kick comes from the opposition countering themselves – so make sure you have a bomb raid policy.

TRACK YOUR LINE BACKWARDS is so important, for as that ball moves in the air, so does the offside line. If your forward pack meanders their way back once a kick is delivered, the percentage of your rivals winning a moment based on odds increases.

IT IS ONLY CHEATING IF YOU GET CAUGHT is something that can apply to lazy runners, or players holding their line which by law is allowable. Lazy or blockading runners is something that of course we don’t advocate, but a cheeky player moving into a chasing runners line can be the difference, even if it means giving away an inevitable penalty.

RUN BACK ALONG THE LINE OF THE BALL as above, if you chase, or stroll (if you are a forward) back to where the kick may land, you may enter the chasing runners line, meaning they have to shift direction, or better still, will crash into you.

Most importantly, remember that a kicking game, like any strategic game plan, has much strength, something that both the Bulls and Springboks have been masters at in recent years, but equally if countered effectively, can make a one-dimensional kicking team look very one-dimensional.
(Getty Images)

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