Super rugby teams need better kick-off tactics

Legend has it that the expression ‘remembering one’s p’s and q’s’ probably originated from the time when local taverns served their drinks by quart and pint.

According to folklore, bartenders need to keep an eye on customers and keep drinks coming, who is drinking pints and who is drinking quarts – Ps and Qs.

The expression emphasizes the importance of detail. From the Super Rugby competition it is quite clear that there is a huge pool of talent to pick from New Zealand teams so far. If the Australian teams get a chance, they must get their details right. They need controllable good control.

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An area of ​​detail that is often overlooked is kick-off.

It seems strange to me that the kick-off strategy between the teams is so diverse. It’s such a basic part of the game. It determines occupation and territory. Given the degree of statistical analysis that shapes modern day strategy, of course a team’s approach to this core aspect would be homogeneous.

I reviewed the kick-off strategy for the Brumbies-Crusaders match over the weekend. My main marker was where the kick-off landed and where the possession was restored by the kick-off team. This has resulted in a net profit-loss compared to where the team started its journey.

The strategy of the Crusaders

The Crusaders don’t seem to have a kick-off plan. I mapped their kick-offs in the graphic below. The base of the arrow is where the kick-off was made by the Brumbies and the tip is where the Crusaders got the ball back.

The Crusaders kicked in the middle of the field. It was unrivaled around the opposition 22, often with unbalanced pressure on the receiver. They didn’t notice any players or try to implement a clear strategy.

Although it did not seem to cost them much. They still regain possession in their offensive half. But kicking in the middle of the field seems foolish. It opens up the whole field for three return options – kick, pass and run. This creates a favorable kick angle for the receiving team. It’s just that the Brumbies weren’t good enough to punish them.

If they had a big kicker – for example, Reese Witherspoon – they could give the Crusaders a return kick half deep.

Brumbies strategy

The Brumbies always went deep and to the right of their attack. They were aiming at the George Bridge field. It usually works well for them, claiming possession in their offensive half and is usually a net gain.

The kick-offs of both teams were unrivaled, as the receiving catcher was picked up, making it very difficult for the attacking individual chaser to win the ball into the air. However, the Brumbies land their kick-off just in time to put pressure on the chaser receiver, hoping to induce an error. On Friday night they were able to achieve this.

Both teams are penalized for failing to touch their deep clearing kicks. We know New Zealand teams are deadly in an unorganized kick return game. The Brumbies are able to reach runners high enough to kick-off, and are always close to touch.

This means that the Crusaders have to take a tackle and try to clear the next step. They will try to move the ball further into the field, find the touch and open the corner to gain territory. Here they will either kick the box or go back to a kicker, which will accept more ground.

My opinion is that it doesn’t really matter if you land it in or out of 22. The only downside is that the receiving team can’t get it out completely. If they could, it would create a competitive possession lineout; If they can’t, it will often create a competitive hold with a box kick for a fullback.

The team wins the competition for possession at each event on Friday night. So you can kick it deep with enough time for your runners to come and ideally get close to the sidelines.

Outstanding worst option was to kick-off deeply without enough height for your runners to arrive. This gives the recipient team plenty of time to open the corner and return it without any pressure.

Take-home message

First, kick it close to the touch so that there is no angle to work with the receiving team.

Second, if you have a strong and accurate kicker, the ideal would be enough for your chase to aim at the corner, create pressure and prevent an instant clearing kick.

Third, you can land it outside of 22, but you must create pressure so that the team does not clear until the next episode.

Finally, a long kick in the middle of the field gives the recipient team many options and convenient kicking angles.

If the Australian teams want to win, they have to start with the p’s and q’s in mind and pay close attention to the kick-offs.

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