Are We Witnessing the Re-Birth of the Drop Goal?

April 27, 2017

Basketball has its 3 pointers, golf the albatross, football a direct free kick and rugby has the drop goal. All elements within sport that, if successful, can cause crowds to go bananas at, and all elements that require a hell of a lot of practice to execute perfectly.

The dramatism that can be created in rugby by a last gasp drop goal attempt is immense. These efforts conjure an atmosphere more electrifying than Oasis coming on stage to do an encore of Wonderwall…OK maybe not that electrifying but you get my point.

A vibrant stadium, in full voice, stops singing like a choir as if the kicker is their conductor, issuing their silence. Time often slows, pupils widen and gasps echo around a ground.

This moment within the sport, is epitomised by the that Jonny Wilkinson drop goal, against the Wallabies in 03’ (sorry to bring it up).

The DG is now a dying art, used simply as a last resort hit and hope rather than a practiced skill. Wilko, who really was the master of the art, used to drop 4 or 5 a game – at least - and when he executed one, it was never a kick to nothing but a measured point scoring opportunity.  

So, why do we see so few attempts in the modern game?

Well, one argument, presented by Ugo Monye, is that back in the day, DG’s seemed the obvious attacking choice when a team had been given advantage by the referee…mainly because advantage periods didn’t last all that long. 

Yet, in the modern game, advantages are so much longer, often encouraging the attacking side to go for the try, with an almost guaranteed kick at goal as insurance.

Last weekend, we saw a finely struck forty-yarder from Jules Plisson, and two beauties from his French compatriot Camille Lopez. These strikes created the kind of excitement, described at the start of this piece.

Not only that, they were taken at exactly the right time and all three had a bearing on the fixture, swinging momentum in the way of their teams. The point I’m making is that they can still be effective but teams opt to ignore this method of points scoring.

So will the drop goal make a return?

In my opinion, I’m afraid not. These 3-pointers by the French chaps, were fantastic moments of individual skill but they’ll remain exceptions to fixtures. The simple fact is running rugby is the current trend (and we love it), and teams are simply more keen to go for a potential 7-point score over a 3 – especially when the ref’s are giving them the platform to do so.

Simples...or maybe not. I'd be very keen to hear your thoughts on the matter!

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