Drop goals, the flared trousers of rugby, back in fashion at World Cup

Kobe, Japan, Sept 25 (AFP/APP):Rugby fans sometimes ask, ‘Whatever happened to the drop goal?’ and then every four years along comes a World Cup to remind you of their worth.

Drop goals are rather like flared trousers — commonplace in the 1970s but rather less familiar in the decades since.

Yet an extra-time drop goal has twice been responsible for winning a World Cup final, with Joel Stransky’s effort sealing 1995 hosts South Africa’s 15-12 victory over New Zealand in Johannesburg before England’s Jonny Wilkinson broke Australian hearts in 2003 when, with just seconds left, his sweetly struck kick sailed over to secure a 20-17 success.

In the most recent World Cup final, fly-half Dan Carter’s 69th-minute drop goal took New Zealand into a seven-point lead before they eventually beat Australia 34-17 at Twickenham.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of a remarkable individual and tactical feat — Jannie de Beer’s five drop goals during South Africa’s 44-21 World Cup quarter-final win over England in Paris.

The much-neglected art has again been in vogue at the current World Cup in Japan. France beat Argentina 23-21 after Camille Lopez came off the bench to drop the winning goal with 11 minutes to go, while South Africa’s Handre Pollard and Yury Kushnarev of Russia have also slotted drop goals.

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