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What Is a Box Kick in Rugby?

Rugby player in mid-dive scoring a try under dramatic evening sky.

Struggling to understand rugby tactics? A box kick is a clever move used by teams to turn the tide of the game. It’s a strategic punt from the scrum-half that can shift pressure onto your opponents and open up play.

Our guide will break down this vital technique, helping you appreciate the skill on display during matches. Discover why knowing your box kick can make or break a game!

Key Takeaways

  • A box kick is a tactical move performed by the scrum-half, launching the ball high and forward to create a contestable play or relieve pressure.
  • There are two main types of box kicks: offensive kicks aim to gain strategic advantage and score, while defensive kicks focus on clearing danger from the team’s half.
  • To successfully execute a box kick, precise technique, such as correct ball positioning and body form, is essential along with consistent practice for improving accuracy.
  • Although an effective strategy when used correctly, there’s debate about the over – reliance on box kicks in rugby; some argue it can lead to predictability and stifle creativity in attack.
  • The success of a box kick relies heavily on teamwork – not just on the scrum-half’s skill but also on teammates’ ability to chase and compete for possession.

What is a Box Kick in Rugby?

In rugby, a box kick is a strategic high kick made by the scrumhalf. It’s often unleashed from tight spots near a scrum or line-out, soaring over players’ heads to land further upfield.

The idea behind this punting move is not just to gain territory but also to set up an aerial contest. As the ball hangs in the air, it gives players time to sprint underneath and compete for possession.

Executing a successful box kick demands skillful timing and precision from the scrumhalf. This kind of kicking puts pressure on opponents, especially if well-chased by teammates who are eager to capitalise on any mishandling errors.

Box kicks serve as both attacking tactics when going forward and defensive weapons when repelling advances—a double-edged sword in the hands of savvy rugby teams aiming for victory at contests like the Rugby World Cup.

Types of Box Kicks

Offensive Box Kicks are used to put pressure on the opposition and create scoring opportunities, while Defensive Box Kicks are used to relieve pressure and gain territory. Each type requires different tactics and execution.

Offensive Box Kicks

When executing offensive box kicks, scrum-halves aim to place the ball in an area of the field where their team can compete for possession. This tactic allows the attacking team to apply pressure on the opposition and potentially regain control of the ball, creating scoring opportunities in their opponent’s half.

The precision of the kick is essential, as it needs to provide enough hangtime to allow teammates to contest for possession while remaining close enough to put pressure on the opposing players.

Additionally, successful execution of offensive box kicks relies heavily on accurate kicking technique and effective communication among teammates during chase and contesting situations.

Utilising offensive box kicks strategically can disrupt defensive alignments, create uncertainty in opponents’ defensive structures, and force turnovers that may lead to try-scoring opportunities.

Defensive Box Kicks

When transitioning from offensive box kicks to defensive box kicks, it’s essential to understand the role of a well-executed defensive box kick in rugby. Defensive box kicks are used to relieve pressure when the team is under attack inside their own half.

Scrums-half must execute a precise and high kick to push the opposition back and allow their teammates time to reset defensively. The aim is not only for distance but also height, giving the chasing players an opportunity to contest for possession or at least put pressure on the opposing team as they catch the ball.

Defensive box kicks can be instrumental in turning defense into offense by gaining territory or forcing errors from the opponents. It requires accuracy, timing, and reliable support from teammates who must chase downfield with intensity.

Benefits of Using Box Kicks

Box kicks create scoring opportunities and put pressure on the opposition, making them a valuable tactical tool in rugby.

Creates scoring opportunities

A well-executed box kick can create scoring opportunities by putting the opposing team under pressure in their own half, forcing them to make errors. The high-hanging nature of the kick means that the receiving team may struggle to secure possession, allowing the kicking team a chance to regain control and launch an attack.

This tactic is particularly effective when used in close proximity to the opposition’s try line, as it increases the likelihood of winning back possession and subsequently scoring points.

Furthermore, when executed with precision and accuracy, box kicks provide an opportunity for players on the kicking team to compete for possession in the air. This not only puts pressure on the opposition but also opens up chances for catching and scoring or creating attacking platforms near their try line.

Puts pressure on the opposition

Executing a well-timed box kick puts immense pressure on the opposing team, forcing them to react quickly and make split-second decisions. This can disrupt their defensive structure, creating uncertainty and potential gaps in their lines.

The contestable nature of the box kick also means that even if the opposition manages to secure possession, it often occurs under duress, making it challenging for them to launch a coherent counter-attack.

Furthermore, when used strategically, the box kick can push the opposition deep into their own territory, increasing the likelihood of gaining valuable field position and potentially forcing errors as they attempt to clear the ball.

How to Execute a Box Kick

To execute a box kick, players must focus on technique and form while also working to improve accuracy. This skill takes practice and precision to be successful in a game situation.

Technique and form

Executing a successful box kick requires precise technique and form. The scrum-half must position the ball correctly in their hands, ensuring the seams are aligned for optimal flight.

As they approach the ball, they should lean slightly back to create an angle for the kick, generating power from their hips and core. Timing is crucial; releasing the ball just before it reaches chest height allows for maximum distance and accuracy.

The follow-through includes a high leg lift and a controlled swing of the kicking leg towards the target area.

Improving accuracy

Transitioning from mastering the technique and form of a box kick, improving accuracy is crucial for its effectiveness on the field. To enhance accuracy, scrum-halves must focus on their foot placement and body alignment during the kicking motion.

Precision in timing the kick with the support of teammates’ positioning is essential to ensure a successful outcome. Furthermore, consistent practice through rugby kicking drills will help refine this skill, allowing players to adapt to various game situations and deliver more accurate box kicks under pressure.

Rugby fans aiming to excel in executing effective box kicks should pay attention to refining their accuracy by emphasising proper foot placement, body alignment, and timed coordination with teammates during regular training sessions.

The Controversy Surrounding Box Kicks

Some experts argue that the box kick is overused and has become predictable, while others believe it can be an effective tactical option when executed correctly. Critics point to the potential for abuse of the tactic and its impact on game flow.

Abuse of the tactic

Some coaches and experts argue that the box kick is overused in rugby, often becoming the default option without real consideration of other strategic plays. The kick can be a valuable tactic when used judiciously, but its excessive use has led to criticisms about predictability and stunted attacking creativity on the field.

The repetitive nature of box kicks can allow opponents to anticipate and counter them effectively, diminishing their impact.

Moving on from this controversy, let’s delve into exploring alternative tactical options in rugby that may offer more dynamic and versatile approaches to both offensive and defensive play.

Criticism from experts

While the box kick remains a significant part of rugby tactics, experts have raised concerns about its overuse and limited strategic approach. Some critics argue that relying too heavily on the box kick can make a team predictable and hinder creativity in attack.

Additionally, experts point out that an excessively used box kick tactic could lead to missed opportunities for more dynamic plays, potentially limiting a team’s ability to capitalise on attacking situations.

Furthermore, some experts highlight the need for teams to develop more varied set-piece kicking strategies beyond solely depending on the box kick. By broadening their tactical options, teams can keep opponents guessing and enhance their overall offensive capabilities.


In conclusion, the box kick in rugby is a tactical kicking technique utilised by scrum-halves in tight attacking or defensive situations. It provides a contestable attacking option and can put pressure on the opposing team, creating scoring opportunities and gaining territory on the field.

However, there is controversy surrounding its overuse without real thought or strategy. Executing precise technique and timing are essential for the success of this skill, making it an integral part of rugby kicking drills for both kicking and catching.


1. What is a box kick in rugby?

A box kick in rugby is a tactical kicking move used by the scrum-half to send the ball high and deep into the opponent’s territory, often during defensive play.

2. When do players typically use a box kick?

Players typically use a box kick during offensive or defensive situations to gain ground and put pressure on the opposing team, especially after a set-piece like a lineout or scrum.

3. Why is good kicking and catching important for executing a successful box kick?

Good kicking and catching skills are crucial for executing a successful box kick because they ensure that your team can regain possession of the rugby ball from the opponents.

4. Can fly-halves also perform box kicks in games of Rugby Union or League?

While scrum-halves usually perform box kicks, fly-halves may also execute them if they spot an opportunity to advance their team tactically with this kind of strategic kicking.

5. Are there specific drills to improve my ability to carry out an effective box kick?

Yes, there are specialised rugby drills designed to help players practise both drop-kicking techniques and timed catching so they can become more skilled at performing effective box kicks during actual matches.

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