How effective would your offense be if you had an extra down? What's the general team morale when you send in the punt team? Would you like to take control of the ball and dictate game momentum?
The Rugby Punt is the type of game changer that can address some of these questions. I know many coaches are hesitant to install the rugby punt for a number of reasons including: It's too risky, loss of hangtime/accuracy, too much practice, lack of rugby style punter, and it's just a gimmick or trick play.As with any scheme, these points can be debated. Let's review the common arguments against the rugby punt.
|Is the Rugby Punt right for your system?|
Sure, conventional wisdom tells you that the punt is way less likely to get blocked when the punter is deeper, in a pocket, and gets the ball off quickly. However, the rugby punt is still a safe kick. Consider how many punt block units are coached. Many teams run a consistent block scheme designed to attack a static punter in a traditional punt formation. These schemes account for the punter kicking the ball from a specific landmark and focus on a block point typically 9-10 yards from the line of scrimmage. The rugby punt changes this block point and therefore changes the punt block. If the punt occurs from outside the tackle as opposed to behind the center the block scheme must also adjust to attack this. How many coaches are willing to spend valuable time planning, installing, and practicing a new punt block scheme?
Many rugby punt formations force you to account for a number of eligible receivers. The rugby formation I'll address in later articles allows for 5 legit receiving threats in a 3 x 2 formation. The defense must account for these players in coverage. Assuming man coverage and 1 returner 6 of the defenders are now locked into a responsibility and unable to rush. This allows the defense to only safely rush 5 defenders. Skeptics will say, "But sure, any punt scheme aligns with eligible receivers!" That is true. But once again, given the punt formation and moving punter many opposing coaches will simply choose to play a sound base defense behind 1 or 2 heavy rushers off the edge.Along with the block risk is the fear of allowing a 16 year old make an on the fly decision as to whether or not the 4th down punt call should be a run, pass, or kick. Many coaches are not comfortable with their punter deciding to pull the ball and try to run for the first down. This makes sense. But kids make decisions on the field all the time. If you coach your kids up and teach them the decision making process you want the rugby punt is no more risky than the triple option or forward pass.So is there risk associated with the rugby punt? Sure there is. You can get a punt blocked, just like in a traditional punt. You can attempt a fake and not make it, just like in a traditional punt. You can have a kid make a poor decision, just like in a traditional punt. I'll opt to accept the risks associated with the rugby punt in exchange for the rewards of an extra first down and momentum shift that you will not get within a traditional punting scheme.
YOU LOSE HANGTIME AND/OR ACCURACY
Yes, but...You are likely to lose some hangtime on your punt. But what's the purpose of hangtime? Don't we like hangtime because it allows our coverage unit to close in on the returner? If that's your purpose for hangtime then keep in mind that the rugby punt already adjusts the timing of the return and buys time for the coverage team by delaying the punt during the roll phase.It's also true that it is harder to accurately aim your rugby punt when compared to a traditional punt. But, remember, the punt is also hard to field and difficult to time up for the return team. I've seen enough shanks by traditional punt teams during crucial situations to make me comfortable with the accuracy of rugby punting.
TOO MUCH PRACTICE TIME
I DON'T HAVE A KID WHO CAN PUNT LIKE THAT
IT'S A GIMMICK PLAY
According to the following definition...maybe it is:
BENEFITS OF THE RUGBY PUNT
- Punt team is no longer boring and kids get excited about being on a momentum changing team.
- Stresses the defense. Traditional punt teams snap and pray there isn't a block or big return. Rugby teams put the pressure on the return team.
- It forces the opponent to get out of their comfort zone and prepare for something different.
- Provides an opportunity for a fake punt every time.
- Giving up a big punt return is a huge momentum loss. You can cut down on the amount of space available for the return team by punting and covering into the boundary.
- If you no huddle the punt you can add more stress to the defense and call out a specific fake if the defense is misaligned.