A lucky punt
September 14, 2011
Jonny Wilkinson's drop goal in 2003 is one of the most iconic images from the game © Getty Images
Rugby World Cup matches can be won and lost in the blink of an eye especially when the drop goal comes into play - just ask the Wallabies.
The ability to land a dramatic three-pointer is a key part of any side's attacking arsenal - a fact reinforced by Namibia's Theuns Kotze whose remarkable three drop goals in four minutes against Fiji at the weekend rocked the boat for a while.
To celebrate his notable achievement, Scrum Sevens looks back at some famous field goals from World Cup history.
Rob Andrew - 1995
The Highveld is renowned for the benefits offers those putting boot to ball and many teams exploited the altitude during the 1995 World Cup in South Africa. However, England were not afforded that advantage with their group games staged at sea level in Durban and their quarter-final against Australia just down the coast in Cape Town.
But this did not deter fly-half Andrew whose prolific boot was always going to be feared. He notched two drop goals against Argentina helping England to a 24-18 win in the pool stage before landing a much more crucial score in the last eight. With the game poised at 22-22, Andrew took aim and from around 40 metres out slotted a match-winning score. England took the game 25-22 and progressed to the semi-finals where Mike Catt et al ran into the steam roller that is Jonah Lomu. Andrew finished his career with 23 drop goals to his name, but none were as important as the one on June 11, 1995.
Jannie de Beer - 1999
The Springboks fly-half smashed all sorts of records out of the park with an unprecedented kicking display against England in the 1999 World Cup quarter-finals. He finished his career with eight drop goals from 13 appearances for the Springboks - with six of them coming during the 1999 showpiece and a remarkable five in one match.
The Springboks took the clash 44-21 with De Beer contributing an astonishing 34 points from the boot. The Boks' tactics were clear on the day - enter the 22 and come away with points. Easy enough? Well it was for De Beer. With five penalties and a record five drop-goals, his boot was clearly the difference between the two sides.
Zinzan Brooke - 1995
The legendary All Blacks is regarded as one of the most complete back-rows ever to have played the game. While boasting the formidable physical frame you normally associate with a No.8, Brooke also possessed a notable turn of pace and the ability to land a drop goal. he split the posts three times during his 55-cap Test career including a match-winning kick against the Springboks in 1996. But it was another effort against England in the semi-finals of the 1995 World Cup that earns his place here.
Going into the game, the focus was very much on the man-mountain Lomu, but Brooke went on to claim at least some of the spotlight. In the early stages of the first half, Brooke took aim from 47 metres out and landed a drop-goal that any fan of the impulse three-pointer would be proud of. Lomu went onto hog most of the headlines with four tries as the Kiwis smashed England 45-29 and it looked as though a second World Cup crown was theirs for the taking - but Suzie had different ideas...
Juan Martin Hernandez - 2007
Argentina shocked the rugby watching public when they carved their merry way through the 2007 World Cup in France. The likes of Felipe Contepomi, Agustin Pichot and the Fernandez Lobbe brothers helped propel the Pumas to a third-place finish but it's the contribution made by Juan Martin Hernandez or , 'El mago', that we highlight here.
Having switched from fullback to fly-half for the tournament, Hernandez established himself as the fulcrum around which the rest of the team pivoted. A shock victory over France in the tournament opener was followed by another upset win against an Ireland side that had stuttered all the way through their pool campaign. Hernandez offered no mercy with three drop-goals in a ruthless display of clinical rugby. Taking the game 30-15, the Pumas progressed to the knock out stages where they were eventually beaten by the would-be champions South Africa in the semi-finals. Meanwhile, Ireland were left to drown their sorrows in the black stuff.
Stephen Larkham - 1999
Stephen Larkham only hit two drop-goals in his 102 appearances for the Wallabies and he saved both of them for their Tri-Nations rivals South Africa. The second of those rare efforts came during a 49-0 thrashing of the Springboks in 2006 with the other deciding one of the most dramatic games in World Cup history.
The two sides went head-to-head in the 1999 World Cup semi-finals where they played out a try-less yet gripping encounter. With Australia's Matt Burke and South Africa's Jannie de Beer in imperious form from the tee, it became apparent that it would take something special to separate the two sides. Step forward Mr Larkham. He never landed a penalty kick for the national side, a near absurdity for a fly-half, but his first drop goal -a monster effort from 48 metres out - help carry them to a 27-21 extra time win that was eclipsed by their final victory over France.
Joel Stransky - 1995
Stransky was often the heartbeat of the Springboks side that claimed the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa. Much has been written and produced about the campaign - most notably the recent film Invictus - but while Francois Pienaar's iconic moment with Nelson Mandela will go down in history, it was Stransky who was the architect of that triumph.
The 'Rainbow Nation' held its' collective breath as the final showdown between the hosts and old rivals New Zealand went into extra-time. Stranksy had already helped himself to a drop goal along with three penalties in regular time but he had one more decisive effort up his sleeve. The rest, as they say, is history.
Jonny Wilkinson - 2003
Wilkinson's boot laid the foundation for England's rise to the top of the world and a nation's hopes rested on his shoulders at the 2003 World Cup as his side looked to cap their ascent to the summit. The famously self-critical fly-half slotted drop-goals against South Africa, Samoa, Wales and three against France to help England secure a spot in the final against Australia.
The two sides played out at epic encounter that was tied at 17-all after 80 minutes. Wilkinson then edged his side ahead with another penalty only to see it cancelled out by Australia's Elton Flatley. With the game was poised at 17-17 deep into extra-time and with penalty kicks looming, England scrum-half Matt Dawson grabbed the ball and raced deep into the Wallabies' 22. Lock Martin Johnson stabilised the platform and Dawson passed the ball back to Wilkinson. With the William Webb Ellis Cup glistening on the touchline, a capacity crowd held its' collective breath as Wilkinson nailed the three pointer to etch his name in the history books.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
John Taylor argues the world's best XVs players must be given a chance to play in the Olympics to increase the appeal of the game
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament
A selection of the best pictures from England's historic World Cup triumph in Paris as they beat Canada 21-9