The Grubber Kick in Rugby: A Tactical Weapon for Gaining Ground
The Grubber Kick in Rugby: A Tactical Weapon for Gaining Ground

The Grubber Kick in Rugby: A Tactical Weapon for Gaining Ground


Rugby, a thrilling sport known for its intensity, strategy, and physicality, is replete with various skills and techniques that players utilize to gain an edge over their opponents. Among these, the grubber kick stands out as a potent weapon in a rugby player’s arsenal. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the intricacies of the grubber kick, exploring its definition, mechanics, and how it is effectively employed in rugby.

Unveiling the Grubber Kick

What is a Grubber Kick?

The grubber kick is a low, skimming kick executed with precision, sending the rugby ball along the ground, where it rolls, bounces, and poses a challenging prospect for the opposing team to handle. Unlike the traditional high punt or spiral kick, the grubber remains close to the ground throughout its trajectory, making it a unique and versatile technique.

The Mechanics Behind the Grubber Kick

Mastering the grubber kick requires a deep understanding of its mechanics. Here are the key components that make up this skill:

1. Ball Placement: The player must position the ball strategically on the ground. It’s crucial to set it at the right angle and distance to achieve the desired trajectory.

2. Foot Position: The kicker’s foot placement plays a pivotal role in the grubber’s execution. To achieve a low trajectory, the kicking foot should contact the ball just above the surface.

3. Follow-Through: After making contact with the ball, the player follows through with their kick, directing it towards the intended target area.

4. Spin Control: A subtle spin can be imparted to the ball by brushing the boot across it at a specific angle. This spin, combined with the low trajectory, makes the grubber kick unpredictable and challenging to defend against.

5. Timing: Timing is everything in rugby, and the grubber kick is no exception. Executing the kick at the right moment, often under immense pressure, is crucial to its success.

The Versatility of the Grubber Kick

Gaining Ground

One of the primary purposes of the grubber kick is to gain territory on the rugby field strategically. By keeping the ball close to the ground, the kicker minimizes the risk of the opposing team making a clean catch and returning the kick. This can be particularly advantageous when the team is deep within their territory and wants to relieve pressure by advancing the ball upfield.

Capitalizing on Space

The grubber kick is also an excellent tool for exploiting gaps in the opposing defense. When a player spots an opening or a lapse in the defensive line, a well-executed grubber kick can swiftly send the ball through the gap, forcing the opposition to scramble and potentially creating try-scoring opportunities.

Defensive Pressure

In rugby, defense is just as crucial as offense. The grubber kick can be used defensively to force the opposition into uncomfortable situations. A precisely placed grubber kick can pin the opposing team deep in their own territory, forcing them to make hurried decisions and potentially leading to turnovers or territorial gains for the kicking team.

Chasing and Regathering

An essential aspect of the grubber kick is the chasing player or players who sprint after the ball as soon as it’s kicked. This aggressive pursuit can put immense pressure on the opposing team. If executed correctly, the kicker or a teammate can regather the ball after it bounces or causes confusion in the opposition’s ranks, leading to advantageous field positions.

Surprise Factor

The grubber kick is all about surprise and unpredictability. When used sparingly and strategically, it can catch the opposition off guard. A well-timed grubber kick, especially in a high-pressure situation, can turn the tide of a game and provide the element of surprise that leads to game-changing moments.

Perfecting the Grubber Kick

Skill Development

Achieving mastery in the art of grubber kicking requires dedicated practice. Players must focus on honing their technique, starting with the basics and gradually progressing to game-like scenarios. Coaches often incorporate drills that emphasize ball placement, footwork, and timing.

Game Intelligence

Understanding when to employ the grubber kick is equally important. Rugby players need to develop their rugby IQ, recognizing opportunities on the field where this technique can be most effective. This involves studying opposing teams, recognizing defensive patterns, and seizing the moment when it presents itself.


Effective communication within the team is essential for a successful grubber kick. Players must be on the same page, knowing when a grubber kick will be executed and where it is intended to land. This coordination between teammates can significantly increase the chances of success.


The grubber kick is a versatile skill, and players should be adaptable in its use. Whether it’s for gaining ground, creating scoring opportunities, or applying defensive pressure, rugby players should be prepared to deploy the grubber kick as a tactical response to the ever-changing dynamics of the game.

Famous Grubber Kicks in Rugby History

Dan Carter’s Precise Kick Against France

Dan Carter, another rugby legend, showcased his grubber kicking skills in a match against France. Facing a tight defensive line, Carter sent a grubber kick through a narrow gap, allowing his teammate to chase and score a try. This moment underlines the tactical brilliance that the grubber kick can bring to the game.

The Classic Scrum-Half Move

Scrum-halves, known for their quick thinking and precision, often use the grubber kick to their advantage. They exploit the chaos around a ruck or maul, sending a grubber kick into the space behind the defensive line, forcing the opposition to scramble and make hurried decisions.

The Grubber Kick in Modern Rugby

Tactical Evolution

Rugby is a sport that continually evolves, and so does the role of the grubber kick. In modern rugby, players are not only expected to execute the grubber kick effectively but also to be creative with its application. Coaches and players analyze opponents’ weaknesses, defensive structures, and game situations to determine when and how to use the grubber kick most effectively.

Defensive Adaptations

As the grubber kick gains prominence, defenses have adapted to counter it. Teams now assign specific players to cover potential grubber kicks, and defenders have become more adept at reading the kicker’s intentions. This has led to an arms race of sorts, with kickers continually seeking new ways to outwit the opposition.

The Role of Technology

Advancements in technology have also impacted the grubber kick. High-speed cameras and analysis tools allow players and coaches to scrutinize the intricacies of each kick, enabling them to refine their technique and make data-driven decisions on when and how to employ the grubber kick.


In the dynamic world of rugby, the grubber kick stands as a testament to the sport’s blend of skill, strategy, and innovation. Whether used to gain ground, exploit defensive gaps, or apply pressure on the opposition, this low, skimming kick remains a valuable tool in the hands of rugby players worldwide. To succeed in modern rugby, mastering the art of the grubber kick is not just a skill but a strategic necessity.

So, the next time you watch a thrilling rugby match, keep an eye out for that perfectly executed grubber kick, as it might just be the game-changer that sets the course for victory or defeat on the hallowed turf of the rugby field.