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Question Number: 30879

Law 8 - The Start and Restart of Play 10/10/2016

Brian of Brooklyn, Ny USA asks...

Hi Gents,

Question(s) regarding kickoff restart.

Must the team taking the kickoff have a player standing next to the ball? Is it legal for a player standing away from the ball (in or outside his team's semi-circle) to run toward the ball and kick it directly at goal given that play begins when the ball is touched as opposed to when the referee blows his whistle?
Lastly,how many players can legally be inside their own side of the semi-circle at kickoff?

Thanks as always for this invaluable service!

Brian

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Brian
At a kick off just one player needs to be beside the ball to kick the ball in play. That was always the case yet teams always played the ball short to a 2nd team mate so that they could retain possession of the ball after it had been kicked forward slightly. The ball now can be kicked in any direction to be put into play
Any player on the kicking team can play the ball to put it into play so it is possible for a player to run forward and kick the ball. A goal can be scored directly from a kick off but not an own goal.
If a team wished it could have all 11 players inside the centre circle. The centre circle is there to prevent the opponents coming closer than 10 yards from the kick off which happens when the ball is kicked. It has no other purpose.



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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Brian,
it was advantageous, not mandatory, to have two team mates at the kick off close to the ball given the ball had to be played forward. Now that the ball can be played back, or in any direction, under the new LOTG, a single team mate can keep ball possession without necessarily having a team mate close. The important aspect of the centre circle, in fact its only importance, is to ensure that a 10 yard space is easily seen for the opponents to respect the ten yard mandated in law from the restart point.
There is NO limit on how many of the team mates of the kicker can be within the circle on their side of the midline , all 11 should they wish, but serves little practical or tactical purpose.
Cheers



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