Does a drop kick in rugby have to touch the ground?

Rugby has quite a few confusing rules and the rules around kicking are some of the most complex. 

Does a dropkick in rugby have to touch the ground? A drop kick has to hit the ground before it is kicked, or else it is considered a punt or a place kick, which cannot count as a score through the posts. The act of dropping the ball onto the ground to perform a drop kick is NOT classed as a knock on.

In rugby, a drop kick is when a player will drop the ball and then kick the ball when it hits the floor. If the player kicks the ball before it hits the floor, this is considered a punt. While punting the ball is legal in rugby, there are certain times where drop kicks are mandatory and so punting the ball is not allowed. 

When do you have to drop a kick in rugby? 

There are four times when a drop kick is mandatory and you will be punished if you try to do another kick. These five are: 

1. Kicking to start a half 

When you kick from the halfway line to start a half, it must be a drop kick. This is because a punt would give too much advantage to the kicking team. Whereas, if you drop kick it can be more difficult to kick it far and high, giving the receiving team more of a chance. 

2. When restarting after points have been scored

The rules around drop kicking are the same for a restart as it is for restarting the game after points have been scored, with rugby play starting again the same after points have been scored, with the team who conceded the points being the ones who kick. 

3. A 22-metre drop out 

The amount that we see the 22-metre dropout has decreased due to the introduction of the goal line dropout. A 22-metre drop-out occurs if an unsuccessful penalty or drop goal attempt either goes dead or is grounded in the goal line area. In this case, the defending team must drop kick the ball from their own 22-metre line. 

4. A goal line drop out 

The Goal line dropout is one of the newest rules in rugby. It was put in place to give the attacking team better field position. It occurs when a player is held up in goal, there is an attacking knock-on in goal or an attacking player is grounded by defenders on their own in goal. 

If any of these happen then play must be restarted with a dropkick from anywhere on the goal line. The kick has to be a dropkick to give more of an advantage to the receiving team. It was a rule introduced to give the attacking team play closer to the goal line and keep the ball in play for longer as it removes the 5-metre scrum. 

5. To score a drop goal 

One of the ways that you can score points through the boot is with a drop goal. If you drop kick the ball through the posts without the ball touching the ground after it is kicked, your team is awarded three points. It is quite a common way that we see points scored in a rugby game. If you punt the ball through the posts, you are not awarded any points. 

When can you drop kick in rugby? 

There are a few times where a drop kick is allowed, just rarely used. These three are: 

1. To score a conversion 

After scoring a try, the scoring team can attempt a conversion kick which is a place kick, taken in line with where the team scored. The large majority of these kicks are taken with a kicking tee as this is when the kicker is the most accurate. 

Drop kicking is allowed to score a conversion, it is just rarely used because it is less accurate than a place kick. The one time you will see a drop kick used as a conversion is to save time. If a team has just scored but is still behind with the time ticking down, then the kicker will take a drop kick to save time as they don’t need a kicking tee to be brought on. 

2. To score a penalty 

You can drop kick to score a penalty if needed as well. This is rarely seen as it is not as accurate, but again can be used to save time if the kicker does not want to wait for the tee to be brought onto the field. 

3. When kicking to touch from a penalty

After a penalty has been awarded, you can choose to kick the ball into touch. This is pretty much always done using a punt, but can be done using a drop kick if the kicker chooses. 

Why is a drop kick not a knock-on? 

Seeing as you need to drop the ball onto the ground for it to be a dropkick, you might think that it would be a knock-on. But a drop goal is not considered a knock-on because the ball is being dropped straight down. As the ball is not being dropped forwards it is not considered a knock-on. 

What is the best rugby drop goal? 

There are a few options for some brilliant rugby drop goals. Johnny Sexton nailed a drop goal in the 83rd minute from the 40-metre line. This was in the 2018 Six Nations and gave Ireland the win over France. Dan Carter secured New Zealand’s World Cup title with a 70th-minute drop goal in 2015. 

But the best drop goal in rugby history has to be Johnny Wilkinson’s strike to win England the 2003 World Cup. It looked like England would win the match in regular time, but the game finished 14-14 after 80 minutes. 

In extra time, Wilkinson and Elton Flatley traded penalties as the time began to run out. But England were putting on the pressure after winning a lineout deep in Australian territory. After multiple phases to get Wilkinson in the right place, Matt Dawson passed the ball to Wilkinson, who nailed the 30-metre drop goal with his weaker foot in the 100th minute of the World Cup final, giving England the World Cup victory.  

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