View Full Version : when is a (free) kick not a kick?

11-05-04, 08:05
Seen on another forum :

"[FK awarded] On the occasion it was used this season the fly half who approached, with ball in hand, checked the mark moved back to kick to touch (from within his own 22) was gob smacked when the winger and flanker tore at him from well beyond the 10M mark " [scrum awarded to the charging side].

Looking for interpretations here - and debate! - presumably the approach to the mark constituted "approach to kick" even though (presumably) the body language of the kicker etc would have all indicated that at that moment (ie approaching the mark to check) that he was not actually going to kick the ball. Is this a general application of the "charge the free kick law" ?

As an extension to this query... FK awarded on the junction of the 10m and 5 m lines to red (say). Red fullback jogs up to take the kick, and is tossed the ball on his own 22m line... he proceeds to jog towards the mark, ball in hand. Does this constitute "approach to kick" ?


11-05-04, 12:05
This is a really tricky one!! The letter of the Law is clear enough, that the defending side, if they have retired the required 10 metres, may charge a free kick when the kicker begins his approach. What the Law does not (and cannot) make clear is what constitutes an approach to kick. There are no hard and fast rules here, but I would say (with no further information) that in both the problematic situations didds described, the defenders have jumped the gun. Why? Well, in problematic situation 1, the FH was just checking the mark and in problematic situation 2, the FB sounds like he's still arriving at the mark.

So, when does the approach begin? Well, let's examine problematic situation 2. The FB, coming from 10, 15 metres away, whatever, is tossed the ball, and tucks it under his arm as he comes towards the mark. Has his approach begun? To my mind, no, because he himself is not yet prepared to kick the ball. As he gets to 5 metres away from the mark, he brings the ball into both hands in front of his body, still jogging towards the mark. Now I think you can say his approach has begun and the on-side defenders may charge his kick.

didds definitely raises a most interesting discussion point though. What criteria do you apply to this situation? Going back to problematic situation 1, did the FH have the ball out in front of him in a ready-to-kick positionas he checked the mark? If so, it could be construed that he has either A) begun his approach, so the defenders may legitimately charge or even B) dummied his approach to fool the defenders into charging early, which would actually be a penalty against him! Is B) too harsh? Is A) too lenient, and if so, who is getting off lightly? Lots of pitfalls here!

I think this situation puts the onus on us refs. When we find it necessary to award a FK, we need to get to the mark, make it clearly for all to see and simultaneously check the defenders' postions relative to the off-side line. This now eliminates problematic situation 1, since the FH should have no need to check the mark. And in the case of problematic situation 2, once the FB brings the ball to a ready-to-kick hand position, then the defenders may charge...

Has this covered every base? Probably not, but it's a good start! As always, I await other responses with much interest...

11-05-04, 13:05
That's a well reasoned and sensible answer Pablo - thankyou :-)

I see it as an area for huge pitfalls and personal interpretation though... not that is anyone's fault of course! Even with a clearly placed mark by the ref etc. its still comon (I would suggest) for many kickers to "recheck" the mark... if only to give themselves a paced out run-up cf. spin bowlers in cricket. In so doing the kicker cannot be argued to be about to kick... even if the mark was clear...

FWIW the original poster of this situation (#1) was obviously of the opinion that the "checking the amrk" consituted the "approach to kick" - as he allowed the charge!

Like pablo, looking forward to any other replies!


11-05-04, 20:05
Hmmmmm, going back to situation 1, I've formed a slightly different opinion (I think). When the FB walked up to check the mark, he wasn't approaching to kick, he was checking his mark, fine. However, once he has checked where the mark is, surely his next move is going to be to kick the ball for touch. Thus any move he makes after this could be construed as being part of his "approach to kick". As the laws allow you to kick from well behind your mark, the kicker may well be "approaching the kick" by stepping back off the mark and then taking the kick. Thus, it would seem a definition to say that the kicker began to "approach the kick" was by when he stepped off the mark about to kick.

If we are looking for a general rule of thumb here, following on from what I just said, what I would go for (although I have never used it) is that once the kicker reaches the mark, his next move off it would be him starting his kick.


12-05-04, 12:05
Approaching the kick is surely that point at which the preliminaries have been gone through, and the kicker is clearly about to kick. What constitutes approach, or "about to kick" varies with the type of kick.
If the kick is a place kick then we have little difficulty, its when he begins his run up - and though for FKs this is a rare option for the kicker to select it is the best illustrative of approaching the kick.
If the kick is from the ground - a tap and go, or tap and planned move, then again the situation is easy, the approach to kick is cear, though very short in duration - it is as soon as the foot begins its move to the ball (though often its regarded as when the ball is kicked - how many times have we heard the opposition cry "as soon he kicks it!!"
So the difficulty is the kick out of hand. Though it seems fairly reasonable that only when the kicker is holding the ball in such a way that its clear he is about to kick it out of hand and is also approaching the mark can he be said to be approaching the kick.

Which means I think that in the first case cited above the chargers were too early.
With regard to the FB - then if he was holdng the ball ready to kick then he is approaching the kick, if he simply has hold of it and is jogging into position then he is not. Though possibly subtle, I think that most who have played the game would be able to detect the change in body position and attitude which would indicate that he is ready and prepared to kick the ball

12-05-04, 23:05
I think I agree with you there Dave, although in situation 1 it is perfectly possible that the kicker stepped up to the mark, placed it in his hands in a way as though he was going to kick and stepped back off the mark in preperation to take a few paces forward before kicking it, all the time thinking he was under no pressure. Seeing him stepping back, and having the ball ready to kick, the players in situation 1 then charged, much to the surprise of the player.

It's possible, partially depends on the Level of the game, and what the kicker actually was doing as he moved back from the mark.

13-05-04, 13:05
I agree, PeterTC. If he was ready to kick, at or near the mark, with the ball held ready, and then takes his step, backwards or forwards, then I would say he is approaching the kick - in the same way that at a place kick the kicker may step backwards before coming forwards, that step is part of his run-uo routine, and commencing his run-up routine is surely approaching the kick!

14-05-04, 12:05
what exactly can the chasers do to the kicker? Do they _have_ top tackle him to the ground, or can they just run up to him and claim the kick "chaed down" ?


17-05-04, 15:05
Good question.

I assume that the charge is the same as the charge at a conversion, only rom considerably closer, not many conversions being taken from only 10 out.

If a place kick, then again we have little problem, no tackle allowed (player not in posession of ball), but presumably they can either charge down or even kick the ball away.

If the player has the ball in his hands then I would suggest that the oppostion can tackle him - subject to normal tackle requirements, not dangerous, not late, etc. (penalise if necessary). If successful in preventing kick then scrum down. If dangerous/late, then penalise them!

It would also be good refereeing, I think, if the poor sap stopped his run and stood looking bewildered for the ref to blow up when the chargers got close, and declare kick void scrum down - simply to protect the innocent.

19-05-04, 11:05
Good call Dave - tackles on an unsuspecting inividual can be very dangerous. I myself put a scrumhalf out of the game a few years ago at a tap penalty... we were defending on our goal line... the ref blew his whistle, he tapped... and apparently the ref said "hold it" for whatever reason... but I - coming from the other side of the player - didn't hear it. I hit this poor scrum half like a runaway express train, totally delighted that for once on my life I'd got close enough to do so!

After I'd been belted by one of his team mate's and the situation explained the poor bloke got stretchered off... fortunately the ref accepted my (true!!) story, though interstingly enough didn't even have a word with the bloke that had belted me!


20-05-04, 12:05
fortunately the ref accepted my (true!!) story, though interstingly enough didn't even have a word with the bloke that had belted me!

Ahh, the blind eye of Solomon - pure justice. You didn't hear the ref, and thus clobbered the 9; and he didn't see a punch. I assume he penalised you.

21-05-04, 14:05
no - no penalty. He accepted my story (which is true ... I never heard him say "hold on" and he didn;t blow the whistle.

I'm not biiter (as they say in Ireland ;-) about the punch at all... as you say, "natural" justice - and "nobody's fault"... other than of course there is no allowance for punching anybody in rugby, wheras my ttackle was at last perfectly legally executed, albeit when the ball had been "made dead" or rather "not alive".

The punch was right in front of him! :-) (It didn't hurt!)


Red Munster
31-05-04, 15:05
For my tuppence worth, I would say that it sounds like the players who rushed the player were doing so after some obvious sign that the kicker was "approaching" his kick. As the ref agreed with the chargers, it sounds fair enough.

As was said, it is one of the few occassions where the kicker can be charged. As it is only a free kick, there should be an element of contest and that is why the resultant line out is to the opposing team and why the defenders can charge at the kicker.

Didds, you don't sound bitter but you sound like you can take a punch! :D