Amidst an otherwise busy weekend I was able to catch most of the first weekend of the Six Nations’ Championship. Rugby is not an area of expertise for me, but it is a sport I generally very much enjoy watching.
A colleague raised a question on Facebook not long ago: why do teams not attempt more drop goals?
This thought occurred to me again as two drop goals, worth six points in total, proved the difference in Italy’s five-point win over France. So it is fair to raise the question again.
South Africa has always, as a matter of course, sought to ensure its teams never leave the 22 without scoring, and are thus more likely to attempt drop goals than those from other countries. Indeed, the national team earned near notoriety in the 1999 World Cup quarter-final against England, with Jannie de Beer scoring no fewer than five in quick succession to leave the English perplexed and beaten. (They needed him again at the equivalent stage twelve years late, when South Africa dominated Australia but contrived, despite spending almost the entire match in Aussie territory, only to score nine points to their opponents’ eleven).
However, the culture in other countries has been, generally, to shirk the drop goal aside from at the very end of the game. I do wonder if this is exactly that – a “culture”. Is there a sense that drop goals just aren’t fair play, somehow?
Perhaps those more expert in the game at the highest level could explain?!