Limit the drop goal

Andrew Logan Roar Rookie

By Andrew Logan, Andrew Logan is a Roar Rookie

47 Have your say

Popular article! 12,559 reads

    Jonny Wilkinson’s ‘THAT DROP GOAL’ - AP Photo/PA, David Davies

    During this World Cup it has been evident that some teams have little intention of working to construct tries, preferring to simply work their way to within kicking range and then go for field goals.

    Most competent kickers who get a good pass and a bit of time can comfortably slot a drop goal from 40 metres, so this is a trend that doesn’t look like heading downward any time soon, particularly when it is an easy way to keep in touch with sides whose defences are improving all the time.

    Of course every side has benefited from the drop goal at various times – England in the ’03 final of course, and certainly the Wallabies against South Africa in the 1999 semis – so no-one in their right mind would argue that it should be abolished. In the right circumstances (’03 final) it can be a legitimate, dramatic and effective way to break a deadlock and win a tight game.

    When it becomes a way of keeping the scoreboard ticking over in general play though, it certainly takes a bit of sting out of the game for spectators.

    An effective way to ensure the viable future for the drop goal as a deadlock breaker, whilst maintaining the focus on running rugby and tryscoring would be to limit the number of drop goals allowed per game.

    There are two choices. Either limit the number of attempts, or limit the number of successful goals. Limiting successful goals probably wouldn’t be quite as effective since teams could just keep trying till they kicked their quota. On the other hand, limiting field goals to say, 3 attempts, would have a twofold effect. One, it would force teams to be more strategic with the attempts they made, particularly in tight games where they may need to keep one in reserve as a tiebreaker. Second, it would take away the “points guarantee” which would be inherent in a limit on successful attempts. Teams might attempt three and only kick one for 3 points or they might kick them all for 9 points. The beauty of this is that the responsibility would be on teams to take their attempts at the best possible time to ensure the score rather than just “having a crack” at field goal when there was nothing else on, particularly post-advantage when they know that there’s a penalty coming.

    The hoped for outcome would be a greater focus on running rugby and tryscoring, whilst ensuring the survival of the drop goal as a valid and important part of the games history and identity. I see it as being similar to cricket limiting the number of bouncers per over – also a valid tactic when used sparingly, but negative when it is used too often.

    Any takers?

    Andrew Logan
    Andrew Logan

    Andrew Logan has played rugby for over 25 years. A contributor to The Roar since its inception, he also writes for Inside Rugby magazine, and Super Rugby and international match day programs. A regular panellist on ABC Grandstand discussing rugby and other sports, Andrew has appeared on ABC's The Drum and also Sky Sportsline. He has convened and managed several touring sides including the Australian Rugby Sevens team on the IRB circuit, and the Australian Barbarians XV.

    This video is trending right now! Submit your videos for the chance to win a share of $10,000!

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (47)

    • September 28th 2007 @ 2:01pm
      Mr E said | September 28th 2007 @ 2:01pm | ! Report

      Andrew, I can’t say that limiting the drop goal would be of any use. You would either need to remove it completely or leave it as it is.
      I think the easier solution, if anything needs to be done at all, would be to limit the points a drop goal is worth.
      This would make them still viable for a tie-breaker but would limit teams with limited try scoring capacity from taking a shot at a drop goal every time they get into the oppositions 50.

    • September 28th 2007 @ 2:06pm
      kenikenipat said | September 28th 2007 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

      Drop it to one point, and if more than three attempts are made cut off their leg.

      Did you get to much sun on your travels to the east, Mr Logan?

    • September 28th 2007 @ 2:40pm
      Michael said | September 28th 2007 @ 2:40pm | ! Report

      Well, the interesting thing is that we are seing an increase in the use of limits rather than simply points in modern sport. Most games have a limited number of time-outs, limits on interchanges, limits on questioning umpires for line calls and so on. Technology allows us to use limits, whereas in the past I think it was probably seen as too hard to manage.

      So: 1 tick for a limited number of attempts. A subtle change which won’t impact the fabric of the game in the way changing points calibration will.

    • September 28th 2007 @ 2:49pm
      Peter L said | September 28th 2007 @ 2:49pm | ! Report

      Andrew – over complicted to limit these things, especially as a valid scoring opportunity. Also, IMHO, not really needed. Around the globe we all know the Poms and the Boks love the drop goal, but against the tier 1 nations they get few opportunities to get them because they can be defended against and the best teams know how. We also know that most every team has used the drop goal from time to time to break spirit by getting outside the 1(or 2) -score-to-level scenario.

      Look, a team who focuses on scoring drop goals and defending their line will loose every time against a team focused on scoring tries. At the end of the day you need to score 2 drop goals for every try scored just to stay in touch. If the team you’re playing has a decent kicker, even then they will win because they only need to slot every second conversion to make life very tough for the dropkicks.

      Finally, in any decent game of any sort, from chess to rugby, there are multiple tactics available for talented players to gain advantage. Personally I think the drop goal is a valid, in-play form of scoring and a useful tactical weapon in the psychological game, while not an important enough contributor to the scoreline to enable a team to resort to that as their only soring mechanism.

      I reckon leave it as is, or at most tinker with the points, maybe dropping it to 2 – it is a skill, after all, and should be recognised as such.

    • September 28th 2007 @ 2:54pm
      Rocky! Rocky! Rocky! said | September 28th 2007 @ 2:54pm | ! Report

      How about drop goals only allowed within the oppositions 20? That way they have to work for it and even then they’ll be thinking “well we’ve managed to get this far, lets try and go all the way…”. Also, drop bears will be in close proximity for aerial punishment heh heh always love a good challenge.

    • September 28th 2007 @ 3:29pm
      de Villiers said | September 28th 2007 @ 3:29pm | ! Report

      What nonsense, a drop goal is part of the fabric and tradition of Rugby Union. It’s an unique skill and should be left alone.