Every player has his own idiosyncrasies when it comes to how they perform. And, with so much emphasis and importance placed on achieving the perfect rugby kick, it’s no surprise that those unique traits are present in the games of the most successful kickers.
What is it, though, that makes these kicks and their kickers so sensational? Is it all power? Or, is it placement and positioning when it comes to striking the ball? We took a look at some of the most successful rugby union kickers and what helped them reach their peaks.
Staying big and ensuring accuracy: Leigh Halfpenny
With over 700 points to his name, Leigh Halfpenny is Wales’ third-highest point scorer of all time, so it’s no surprise that his kicking technique is both heavily-analysed and well-documented. He’s been pivotal to his national side this year, so it may be prudent to make use of a betfred promo code ahead of Wales’ South Africa Test at Cardiff, especially with the home a 5/6 favourite heading into the match.
The Swansea-born fullback has discussed his technique many a time and has pointed out the importance of defining a target with the ball, ensuring the seam is facing where he wants the ball. However, Welsh kicking coach Neil Jenkins picked out long studs and Halfpenny’s ability to stay big as part of the reason he’s able to deliver power and accuracy in equal measures. Keeping upright and straight means that he rarely misses but makes him less effective from longer range. That said, it’s never seemed to hurt.
It can’t hurt being tutored by the man two ahead in the record points scoring charts.
Focus is fundamental: Neil Jenkins
Speaking of which, the man with 1,049 points more than belongs on any list of the best with their boots in rugby union. That phenomenal points record came in just 87 appearances for the Welsh national side, and this all came at a somewhat barren time for the Dragons.
With his smooth run-up, Jenkins ensured pinpoint accuracy in every spot-kick. And, his composure with the ball and ability to keep his focus on it at drop goals meant that he powered to a 12-points-a-game average for his country – it’s also a big part of why he remains one of the most successful kicking coaches in the professional game.
The record-breaking Welshman has courted controversy for his coaching style in the past, but getting the best out of some of the world’s best is something few can do.
Adopting the stance: Jonny Wilkinson
Jonny Wilkinson may be second to Dan Carter in the list of record points scorers in union Test matches, but his ability in the big games and under pressure is second to none.
Five penalty kicks and three drop goals in the semi-final of the 2003 World Cup proved to be the only England points, and the ones that took the team through to a final that would be won by the Newcastle Falcons’ man’s drop goal. That composure is what earns him his place on this list.
Wilkinson’s ability to cleanly follow through the ball ensured the right amount of curve and precision when taking his kicks. However, perhaps the most notable aspect of his approach – and the one most fondly remembered today – was his stance when assessing the ball. Not unlike Cristiano Ronaldo’s approach to free-kicks in football, Wilkinson would stand around 45° from his starting position, hands clasped, hunched slightly over, before tapping the ground with his kicking foot to prepare his boot to deliver the power needed through its core.
There aren’t many kickers with as unique and recognisable approach as the 2003 World Cup winner.