The drop goal is one of the many features of the sport of rugby that are unique to the game. It’s also an incredibly potent weapon for beating sides in attritional matches and we’ve seen a regular occurence of them during world cup tournaments.
This writer has put together a side made up of players in each position who have scored the most drop goals in their position in international rugby. There are some quite significant surprises in here.
1) A N Other
Not a great start, I’ll admit, but just hold on there for a second. Is there actually any loosehead prop who as ever scored a drop goal in the top tier of domestic rugby? No loosehead has ever scored a drop goal at international level. Of course, records are there to be broken! My money is on Mako Vunipola and that cultured boot of his.
2) Dale Garner
Only one hooker has scored a drop goal in international rugby’s history and that is Dale Garner of Germany. He scored a drop goal against Romania on 14th March 2015, although his team went on to lose the game.
3) Matt Dunning
No tighthead prop has ever scored a drop goal in international rugby, but Australia’s Matt Dunning put in a beautiful effort for the Waratahs in 2003.
(Credit: Go The Tahs TV)
Wales prop Adam Jones tried his luck against Munster, but it didn’t quite work out for him:
(Credit: Pro12 Rugby)
And finally, former Sale and Moldova tighthead Vadim Cobilas should probably go back to the drawing board with his technique:
(Credit: Observatoire Bernais)
4) Garrick Fay
Australia’s Fay scored a drop goal against Tonga in 1973. He is the only dedicated second row to have scored in such a way in the history of the sport at international level.
5) Jean Prat
As there are no other second rows that have scored at international level besides the aforementioned Fay, we’ve stuck the Frenchman Jean Prat in the second row. He scored six – yes, six – drop goals in his international career.
In the days before only backs could be genuine kickers, Prat scored nine tries, twenty seven conversions and fifteen penalties in his 51 tests. He scored two in one match against England at Twickenham in 1955.
6) A choice of three
Okay, so there are three blindside flankers that have all scored a drop goal in international rugby: F Amelung of Germany in 1934, Rene Lasserre who played fullback, centre and flanker who France, and Manasa Qoro of Fiji.
7) Neil Back (1 drop goal v Italy, 2000) or Martyn Williams (1 drop goal in 2003 Rugby World Cup)
Both England’s Back and Wales’ Williams have scored a solitary drop goal for their country.
8) Zinzan Brooke
New Zealand’s Zinzan Brooke has scored three drop goals, against England, South Africa and Wales.
Italy’s Sergio Parisse, Scotland’s Peter Kininmonth and Namibia’s Jasper Coetzee are the other dedicated number eights to have scored a drop goal at international level.
9) Dougie Morgan
In 21 tests Soctland’s Dougie Morgan scored six drop goals, including two against Ireland in 1973.
One of the game’s greatest players in Gareth Edwards scored three for Wales and one for the Lions in their 12 – 3 first test win over South Africa in the famous series of 1974.
10) Jonny Wilkinson
Dan Carter might have been the best at pretty much everything in world rugby, but England’s Jonny Wilkinson is still the world-record holder for the most drop kicks in international rugby, with an astonishing 36 to his name. 3 of those came in the same match – against France in the World Cup semi-final in 2003.
Apparently there was quite an important drop goal in the final that year as well? A few of you might have heard about it.
Wilkinson’s nearest rival is Argentina’s Hugo Porta on 28, followed by England’s Rob Andrew on 23, and Italy’s Diego Dominguez on 20. In fact, Daniel Carter only ever scored eight drop goals in his entire All Black career, which probably says a lot more about the style of rugby New Zealand play than it does about Carter as a player.
Of course, the most famous kicker of drop goals is most likely South Africa’s Jannie de Beer, who scored a world record five drop goals in one game: against England in the quarter-final of the Rugby World Cup in 1999.
11) Serafino Ghizzoni
Italy’s 60-cap winger of the ’70s and ’80s scored three drop goals in his career, against Fiji, the Cook Islands and Spain.
Scotland’s Keith Robertson also scored three drop goals throughout his 44 tests, against England, Romania and Ireland.
12) Mike Kiernan
Irish centre Kiernan scored 6 drop goals in 43 games for Ireland, including three against Scotland in three separate games. In the 1987 Rugby World Cup he achieved a total of 37 points, including a try, 7 conversions, 5 penalties and a drop goal.
Scotland’s Jim Renwick and Australia’s Berrick Barnes come in joint second place with four drop goals apiece.
Although known for his foot being like a traction engine, South Africa’s Francois Steyn has actually only ever scored two drop goals for his country. However, his effort for club side Racing Metro 92 was something else:
13) Brian O’Driscoll
Is it really any surprise to see one of rugby’s greatest players in this team? O’Driscoll scored 5 drop goals throughout his career, including two against the All Blacks on two consecutive weekends in New Zealand. Moreover, he achieved another against Australia in Melbourne during the 17-16 World Cup quarter-final loss, a game in which scrum-half George Gregan also managed a drop goal.
Wales’ Steve Fenwick and Albert Jenkins, Scotland’s Ninian Fenway, France’s Florian Fritz, Australia’s Mike Hawker and Russia’s Vladimir Simonov all scored three drop goals each.
England’s Jeremy Guscott accomplished three drop goals in his career, but he will always be synonymous with his British and Irish Lions tour-winning drop goal in the second test against South Africa in 1997.
14) Pierluigi Pacifici
Not one but two Italian wingers make the XV, with nine-cap Pacifici scoring one against Spain and two against Madagascar.
15) Goncalo Malheiro
Portugal’s 41-cap fullback scored an impressive eight drop goals in his career, including a world-record-equalling five against Russia in Krasnodar in 2003 – level with de Beer’s remarkable achievement back in 1999. He also scored two against Spain in the same year and a final drop goal against Georgia in 2004.
France’s Michel Vannier also scored eight drop goals, including two ‘doubles’ against Argentina and Wales.
South Africa’s Percy Montgomery is in third place on six, New Zealand’s Don Clarke on five and Uruguay’s Juan Menchaca matching his efforts with five as well.
Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena