WH AT Y O U S H O U L D B E T A L K I N G A B O U T T H I S MON T H
“Are sides right to gamble by kicking to the corner?”
AT THE time, Japan were playing such free-flowing rugby that repeated refusals to kick for goal against ill-disciplined England seemed insignificant.
But despite two fine tries and going to the corner, Japan only led by five points at the halfway point of their Twickenham Test.
England went on to win 35-15, and scored from a driving maul after kicking to the corner too.
The previous week England had rolled the dice against the All Blacks. The catch-and-drive failed in a one-point defeat.
It’s happening everywhere you look. With Scotland three points behind South Africa in the 59th minute, skipper Greig Laidlaw opted for the corner rather than a shot at goal. They didn’t score and lost by six. And after losing 9-6 to Wales, Australia captain Michael Hooper said of skipping kicks: “If I had my time again I’d have gone for the shot, yes.”
In April, NZ Rugby’s chief scientist
Ken Quarrie told The Short Ball podcast that if “kickers, on average, are getting 75% of their penalty kicks” then this offers “a pay-off of 2.16 points per kick”. He added that to offer the same value, packs would need to convert every third lineout into a try. By that point of the season in Super Rugby, teams opting for a lineout within 15m of the opposition try-line had only scored 27% of the time.
No matter how confident in your maul or moves, the numbers don’t encourage you. Yet according to rugby statistician Russ Petty, by the end of the season the Hurricanes had still only scored an average of one penalty kick a game.
The Crusaders only kicked one three-pointer in their first nine games!
It is accepted that the rate of tries scored per game, globally, is on the rise. The World Cup is around the corner too.
Maybe it’s heart-over-head time. Forget pragmatism – chase those tries! Hey, why not try the lineout move analysed by Sean Holley on page 90?
No guaranteesJapan couldn’t score from a lineout at Twickenham