Field goal (rugby)

Field goal (rugby)

A drop goal, also referred to as a dropped goal or field goal, is a method of scoring points in rugby union and rugby league. A drop goal is scored in open play by drop kicking the ball over the crossbar and between the uprights. After the kick, the ball may touch a player or the crossbar and goalposts, but not the ground (i.e. it must be "on the full"), before it goes over and through.

A drop goal is worth three points in rugby union and one point in rugby league.cite book
title=The International Laws of the Game and Notes on the Laws
chapter=Section 6: Scoring
publisher=Rugby League International Federation
] If the drop goal attempt is successful, play stops and the defending team (the scoring team in rugby union sevens) restarts play with a kick from the centre spot. If the kick is unsuccessful, the offside rules for a kick apply and play continues until a normal stoppage occurs, usually by the kicked ball going dead or into touch.

A drop goal may be attempted at any time when the ball is in play (besides directly after a free kick or scrum taken in lieu of a free kick), and defenders may tackle the kicker while they are in possession of the ball, or attempt to charge down or block the kick.

Rugby union

In rugby union, the play is officially called a dropped goalcite web
title=Law 9: Method of Scoring
work=Laws of the Game
publisher=International Rugby Board
format= PDF
] and commonly abbreviated to "drop goal".

Tactical use of the drop goal

At three points in union, the drop goal is relatively valuable and therefore it is not unusual to see it attempted at any point in a match. However teams which believe they are stronger than their opponents in scoring more valuable tries generally do not want to sacrifice a good territorial position by going for a drop goal.

Some teams such as the South African Springboks have been notable for use of the drop-goal, while others such as the New Zealand All Blacks seem to spurn it and prefer to run the ball. [ [ Patrick Gower: "Does NZ have 'droppie-phobia'?".] "The New Zealand Herald" online, 11:33AM Wednesday October 10, 2007.] There is a view that this contributed to the All Blacks, then the world's No 1 ranked team, being knocked out of the 2007 Rugby World Cup. [ [ Patrick Gower: "Where was the droppie?"] "The New Zealand Herald" online, 1:36PM Monday October 08, 2007.]

Teams which are in the lead often use the drop-goal to maintain a margin over the opposition of more than seven points, i.e. more than a converted try, the maximum single score possible. They will often do so immediately after their lead has been cut, to make their opponents think they will never manage to catch up.

Some teams play a strategy of ensuring that they score points every time they get close to their opponents' 22 metre line. If they do not score a try within a certain period of getting there and if their opponents are disciplined and not giving away penalties, they attempt a drop goal.

Often a team desperately defending their try line makes a hurried clearing kick or hack at a loose ball which instead of going towards touch goes down the centre of the field towards their 10 metre line. In these circumstances the attacking team's fullback will sometimes try a long-range drop goal from there or near the half-way line.

A team often tries a drop goal just before half-time, especially if they think the referee is going to blow the whistle at the next stoppage and they feel their attacking move is about to break down.

The advantage rule for a penalty is also exploited by teams to score a drop-goal. In such a scenario, the referee signals penalty advantage to the attacking team when the location of the infringement is difficult for kicking a penalty goal. If the attackers aren't in a good position to score a try, they may attempt the drop-goal. If they miss they do not lose anything, because they have not gained an advantage, and the referee still gives them the penalty.

It is however in knockout tournaments and finals matches that the drop-goal can become crucial in close matches. A number of quarterfinals and semifinals and two finals in the Rugby World Cup have been decided by dropped goals, in extra time in the case of the finals.

Notable drop goals in rugby union

*South Africa's victory margin in 1995 came from a Joel Stransky drop goal in extra time (Stransky dropped 2 goals in the game, despite never previously having dropped goals for South Africa).
*Jonny Wilkinson duplicated the feat for England against the Australian Wallabies in the final in 2003.
*Australia were eliminated from the 1995 Rugby World Cup by a Rob Andrew drop goal for England.
*Jerry Guscott dropped a match and series-winning goal in the second test for the British Lions on the 1997 British Lions tour to South Africa.
*In their 44-21 quarter-final win over England in the 1999 Rugby World Cup, South African Jannie de Beer dropped 5 goals, a record in test matches.
*Englishman Jonny Wilkinson holds the record number for drop goals in an international career: 29 as of 2008 [] . The record was previously held by Argentinian Hugo Porta with 28.

Controversies over drop goals

From time to time suggestions are made in some quarters of the international rugby community that the number of points for a drop goal should be reduced, or drop goals should be limited or discouraged in other ways. [ [ Spiro Zavos: "Time to dock points from drop goals".] "Rugby Heaven", Tuesday, June 19, 2007.] These suggestions are often made in New Zealand and Australia where the use of the drop goal is not so common. [ [ Andrew Logan: "Limit the drop goal."] "The Roar", September 28th 2007.]

Rugby league

In rugby league, since the reduction of their value from two points to one in the early 1970s, the field goal's use has largely been in the latter stages of a match (or half) in order to break a deadlock, or for "insurance" points: to extend a lead to more than a converted try, or to reduce a deficit to less than a converted try.

With the introduction of the golden point rule in the Australasian National Rugby League, the field goal is often the first choice option when looking to secure a win. Generally though, as is the nature of rugby league, a team will opt for a more attacking kick, in hope of scoring a try, or else kick to gain field position.

In other Rugby descendant football codes

The drop-kick field goal is a rare but still legal part of American football and Canadian football, other Football codes descended from Rugby football. For example, in the New England Patriots' regular-season finale against the Miami Dolphins on January 1, 2006, Doug Flutie successfully drop kicked a football for an extra point, something that had not been done in a regular-season NFL game since 1941. The ball went straight through the uprights for the extra point. It was Flutie's first kick attempt in the NFL.


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