In the sport you have to pass backwards or the ball is given to the other team

In rugby passes between team-mates need to go backwards.

If the pass is judged forward by the referee then a penalty is given, which is typically taken as a scrum.

The decision of whether a pass is forward is made by the referee. But they can ask assistant referees and the television match official for guidance before they make their final decision.

There are always contentious calls made and Duhan van der Merwe‘s second try against England during to 2023 Six Nations is a good example to pick apart.

Many fans took to social media after the try was given as they believed the final pass from Matt Fagerson to Van der Merwe was forward. Fagerson through the ball on the 22 metre line and Van der Merwe caught it a metre or two in front. However, according to the letter of the law the pass was backwards.

Referee Wayne Barnes explained the rule on the World Rugby’s website. He said: “It’s not about the direction that the ball eventually ends up, it’s about the direction it’s travelling in as it leaves the hands.”

Rugby passes: How do players use tactics to work around backwards passing

To gain a vantage point without passing forwards, players have brought more kicking into the game.

This can be used for territory with high balls or long range kicks. The players also use grubber kicks or kicks over the top of defences closer to the try line to try and penetrate a way through to score.

And research has suggested more kicking leads to a better chance of winning

QBE Risk and Reward Index findings said: “Total kicks in play has the highest correlation with winning games at 93%. Playing for territory by kicking, and thus playing without the ball, was the most successful risk management strategy.

“There was only one game in the 2020 Six Nations tournament where the team who kicked less won the match.”

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