There are many different skills that player needs to be able to play rugby, they are running, passing, catching and tackling. However, every team should have at least two people who have the special skill of kicking the ball.
A rugby ball is oval and so it will bounce in a much different way than a round soccer ball. For this reason a good kicker has to know exactly where to place the ball so that the bounce will go in his favour. There are three different types of kicks that you will see in a rugby game, and I will go over each of them now.
The punt is a kick that is used in general play. To carry out this kick the player holds the ball in front of themselves about a legs distance from their body to maximise the swing of the kicking leg. The non-kicking foot is planted firmly on the ground, and the kicking leg is swung in a way that it will make contact with the ball on the instep of the foot. This is the top part of the foot between the toes and the ankle. Keep your eye on the ball as you are kicking it and try to ignore the 15 other players that will be trying to tackle you at the same time.
The drop kick is a specialised type of kick that is used to restart play and to kick at goal during normal play. A restart is taken at the 22 metre line for a dropout, or the halfway line when a try or penalty has been scored. To make a drop kick, the ball is held vertically in the kickers hands about waist high. The ball is dropped to the ground and the kicker makes contact with his instep again a split second after the ball has bounced. Ideally the ball will be leaning slightly backwards, and the kicker will also lean back to get more height in the kick.
The place kick is used when a penalty has been awarded or when a conversion is to be attempted after a try has been scored. Most players these days use a kicking tee or small amount of sand to hold the ball in a set position while they make their run up. Although every kicker has their own kicking style, almost all will begin by walking backwards from the ball a set distance and then move out to one side or the other. The kicker will then pause to clear his head and relax.
No matter what type of kick is employed the key to a good kick is accuracy. The ball must land exactly where the kicker wants it to, and either score points or put the team into a better attacking position than they were previously. A good kick is a fantastic attacking weapon, and on the flip side a bad kick can be disastrous.
Kicking should always be done for a reason. Generally, a team will kick more often when they are in their own half as a defensive measure to get out of trouble, and continue play in the other teams half. This type of kick is called a defensive kick, or sometimes a territorial kick, which means that the kicking team is trying to get into the oppositions territory.
Kicking in rugby is a difficult skill to master due to the shape of the ball. However, with consistent practise it is possible to read how a ball will bounce depending on how you kick it. You can make the ball bounce end over end in a straight line which will cause it to ‘pop’ up slightly higher on about the third bounce, which makes it easy for chasing players to pick up as they run at it. It is also possible to make the ball spin off to the side so it will bounce out of play near the oppositions try line.