Kick pass – an unmissable attacking weapon

A kick pass by Beauden Barrett

The kick pass has become a very potent weapon when used correctly. It allows attacking teams to quickly move the ball out wide to breach their defenses. No one is quite as good as the New Zeeland teams at this and in recent times the link up the Barrett brothers has delivered some of the most amazing plays.

The cross-field kick pass is the most spectacular version of the kick pass, but the grubber kick also should get its due credit. A flyhalf should have the ability to use both when needed to breach defenses by putting wings, fullbacks and centers into space with a high likelihood of being able to regather the ball.

The execution of a kick pass

Getting the most out of it requires some practice between the kicker and receiver. In most cases with the cross-field kick pass the receiver would be a wing or fullback.

The kick is all about accuracy and floating the ball at the optimal trajectory. There is a high margin of potential error if the kick is misdirected. If it is however executed well, it should allow the receiver to easily catch the ball even if the run is not timed to perfection.

When performing a kick pass the goal should be to get the kick to go forward between 5 and 10 meters only. The goal is for the ball to land about 5 meters in from the touchline.

The ideal time to do the kick pass is after a number of phases where multiple defenders have been drawn in. If the opposition backline is outnumbered, it is ideal to do the kick pass. So ideally there should not be a wing in place or a fullback covering.

The execution of the grubber kick

The grubber kick is very effective against a rush defense. This can be executed by the flyhalf who will put the ball through the defensive line where the centres run onto the ball. Alternatively, the inside centre can kick it with the outside centre and wing (or fullback) running onto the ball.

Against a good defensive structure, the opposition fullback will be sweeping behind the defensive line and easily field a grubber.

The fullback however often joins the defensive line when defending inside their own 22.

By bringing your fullback into the line as a decoy, you can also force the opposition fullback to join the line, which leaves space behind the defensive line.

It is ideal to kick the ball between 10 and 15 meters behind the defenders by letting it drop onto your foot and kicking it end over end with a flat trajectory.

Kicking it like this results in the ball regularly bouncing up, allowing your runners to field the ball.