In Rugby Union, the greatest sport on earth, the gain line is an imaginary line going across the pitch at a breakdown in play. While the game is still in play this will be at points where a tackle has resulted in a ruck or maul. At a scrum or line-out the gain line will also be drawn across the pitch.
The gain line is referred to in the game of Rugby because the aim of both teams is to win the battle to move forwards towards each others try line. The attacking team have this as a target for moving and running with the ball whilst in possession, if the attacking team can’t get over the gain line by carrying the ball they will look to other tactics to move towards the opposition try line.
Why cross the gain line?
Rugby is a game of moving forwards. Once the game is started each team has one goal and that is to cross the try line to score, and that comes hand in hand with crossing the gain line. That process rarely happens in one movement and the game will run from one side of the pitch to the other as the teams gain advantages over each other and possession of the ball, that is until someone scores points. To score points doesn’t have to involve a try, as you can score points from kicking the ball between the posts from a drop goal or a penalty.
How do you cross the gain line?
There are multiple ways to cross the gain line, the first one is carrying into defenders with enough to force yourselves forwards. With both teams starting off at equal distance from the gain line tackling takes place on or that imaginary line in most instances. In the forwards these will involve hugely powerful collisions, an example of this is the pick and drive, stealing the inches to work up the field.
Exploiting space away from the breakdown
The other way to break the gain line is through exploiting space created by moving the ball and running lines. Moves from set pieces can be some of the most dangerous for a defence to deal with, below are some of the top moves from the Super Rugby Championship.