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What does the 50:22 kick look like and how could it change rugby?

The law was trialled in Australia last year.

IT SEEMS LIKELY that we’re going to see more of the 50:22 law trial in rugby next season and possibly beyond.

So, first things first – what is a 50:22 kick?

In short, a kick from within a player’s own half that bounces in the field of play before crossing the touchline in the opposition 22 results in the kicking team getting the throw into the lineout.

Under current rugby laws, the non-kicking team gets the throw into the lineout, so it’s a big possible change.

The basic idea is to ensure defending teams drop more players into the backfield to guard against potentially conceding lineout platforms inside their own 22. That would naturally mean fewer defenders in the frontline and more space for the attack.

The trial law came about with safety in mind – if there are fewer defenders in the frontline, the defence’s linespeed may be reduced and collisions might be less frequent and less impactful.

For a hypothetical example of a 50:22 in play, let’s look at the most-celebrated kick from this year’s Six Nations – France fullback Anthony Bouthier’s stunning spiral against England.

Source: Guinness Six Nations/YouTube

If the 50:22 was being trialled in the Six Nations, this would have been a France throw into the lineout just metres from England’s tryline.

Just imagine how big a boost that would have been for France.

It’s an extreme example but it shows just how game-changing the 50:22 law could be, with defensive teams likely to be desperate not to give up kick space in the backfield.

The 50:22 law has already been trialled in competition, with the National Rugby Championship [NRC] in Australia putting itself forward to run the trial last year.

While the competition’s willingness to trial should be applauded, the NRC was possibly one of the last places a 50:22 trial was required. The competition has always involved a huge level of try-scoring, with 10 tries per game on average.

Nonetheless, the data returned to World Rugby from that trial outlined that there were 14 examples of 50:22 kicks over the course of the 31 games in the 2019 NRC.

From those 14 kicks, the teams who then got the throw into the lineout scored tries on three occasions.  

So the 50:22 trial didn’t cause a great upheaval in terms of try-scoring, but some of the examples underline how much of a change would be involved if the trial continues in other competitions and possibly even at Test level in the future.


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We get an example from Melbourne Rising above and although they don’t go on to score from their attacking lineout, the value of having accurate kickers in your team under the 50:22 law is clear.

Interestingly, last year’s NRC also involved a ’22:50′ trial law.

Under this law trial, if a player kicked from inside their own 22 and the ball bounced into touch inside the opposition half, the kicking team got the throw into the lineout.

This only happened five times in the NRC last year but, again, it’s a very different picture to what we’re used to.


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In the example above, the kicking team got the throw into the lineout.

The 50:22 and 22:50 trials in the NRC didn’t have a massive impact on the state of the game in the Australian competition and, rather strangely, there were actually fewer kicks in play than the year before.

But even seeing an example of how the 50:22 law trial works is fascinating. One can only imagine how excited the best kickers and coaches in the world would be about manufacturing opportunities to take advantage of the law if trials continue in other places.

That certainly seems the likelihood in the coming year or two, as World Rugby hope to make the game safer to play and better to watch.

The improvement of the quality of defences has utterly changed the game in recent years, to the extent that attacking teams are sometimes completely stifled by oppressive defences stacked with defenders and bringing relentless linespeed.

We must respect both sides of the game – attack and defence – but the 50:22 law trial could be one solution as rugby authorities look to open up more attacking space and promote exciting rugby.

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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