Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The Total Flanker Guide to: Goalkicking

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, in a land not too far away from here, I kicked a penalty goal in a schoolboy game of rugby football.

My team was, as  often was the case, 30+ points down at the time and on our way to a comprehensive thumping. I was utterly fed-up and, as captain, decided that we'd feel that much better about ourselves with 3 points on the board and, more importantly, I'd feel that much better about myself if it was me who scored them.

It was dead in front of goal, not very far out and I hit it with my hardly-ever-practised toe-punt technique, sending the ball sailing (well, wobbling) through the middle of the uprights.

All of which makes me justifiably qualified to offer advice to all and sundry on the art of goalkicking...

It seems to me that goalkickers fall into 2 categories:

1. high percentage kickers and
2. hit and hopers.

No doubt at the elite level of the game high percentage kickers are what most directors of rugby dream about. If your kicker is landing 80% or more of his kicks then there's a very good chance that your team will be in the mix come the end of the season. As far as grassroots rugby goes, however, a high percentage goalkicker is about as much use as tits on a fish.

Let me explain. In my experience, the reason high percentage goalkickers at grassroots level have such a high percentage is that they rarely, if ever, attempt any kick on goal which is not dead centre and 25 metres out. Anything slightly further away or a tad left or right of centre and it's "slightly outside my range, skipper" and "let's be positive and go for the corner and take the lineout."

Of course, in the unlikely event that, having made such a decision, your pack wins the lineout and drives over for a try out wide, the high percentage kicker will discover a hitherto un-mentioned groin twinge preventing him from attempting the conversion - a twinge which will miraculously vanish next time you're awarded a kick in front of the sticks.

No, for grassroots rugby what is required is your enthusiastic but limited hit and hoper. You know the one - the bloke who claims to have a "siege gun boot" but who is about as accurate as projectile vomiting. Not only will he attempt all the kicks that your high percentage kicker might eschew and more besides, there's a small percentage (based on the law of averages) that occasionally a kick might just go over, meaning that your team might just score a few more points than it might otherwise have done and might just win a few more games than it might otherwise have won.

And here's the thing. Having a ready and willing hit and hoper means more time standing around, hands on head, sucking in oxygen while yet another improbable attempt at goal is lined up. More time stood still, less time running around.

Which, in my experience, can only be a good thing.

1 comment:

Von said...

Mr Flanker, you are spoiling your loyal readers - a "whatever happened to..." and a "Total Flanker Guide To..." both delivered in one week? Wonderful stuff sir.

This one particularly apt for me, after volunteering for kicking duty last week, then proceeding to miss five from five. In defence, the first two hit woodwork and all were from those wide angles that shouldn't really be attempted at my level of the sport.