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Wallabies Goal Kicking

Wallabies Goal Kicking

The last twelve months have seen plenty of discussion regarding Matt Giteau’s goal kicking for the Wallabies so I thought I’d take a look at the numbers to see what they tell us.

There’s no doubt that the Wallabies wouldn’t have lost the games against Scotland on the 2009 EOYT, against England earlier this year and the final Tri Nations game against New Zealand this year if Giteau had kicked the goals he missed in those games.  I think you can also add in the game against Ireland on the 2009 EOYT because he missed a very make-able penalty that day as well.

However, should any individual player be blamed for any loss?  Not in my opinion – rugby is a team game and all players in the team must share the acolades and the blame.  In 2000 when John Eales and Stirling Mortlock kicked their memorable last gasp goals to secure the Bledisloe Cup and the Tri Nations for the Wallabies we applauded the teams’ effort – we didn’t assign all the credit to those individuals.  When Johnny Wilkinson kicked England to victory in the 2003 RWC final we all agreed it was a great kick but it was the team that won that game, not the individual.  When Stirling Mortlock missed that penalty attempt in the 2007 RWC quarter final, we all knew it wasn’t Mortlock who lost that game for the Wallabies.

In the four games I listed above over the last twelve months where goal kicking has in the end made the difference, the Wallabies had opportunities to wrap up each game without relying on goal kicking.  It’s the team that should wear the blame, not the individual.

Having said that, can the Wallabies expect to win the 2011 RWC if their goal kicking statistics don’t improve?  In a word or two – NO!!

Following are the goal kicking statistics from the 2010 Tri Nations and then those of the primary kickers for each team:

Wallabies All Blacks Springboks
Conversion Attempts 17 22 13
Succesful 13 13 11
Success % 76% 59% 85%
Penalty Attempts 23 22 20
Succesful 17 16 20
Success % 74% 73% 100%
Total Attempts 40 44 33
Succesful 30 29 31
Success % 75% 66% 94%
Matt Giteau Dan Carter Morne Steyne
Conversion Attempts 17 20 10
Succesful 13 11 10
Success % 76% 55% 100%
Penalty Attempts 20 17 19
Succesful 14 12 19
Success % 70% 71% 100%
Total Attempts 37 37 29
Succesful 27 23 29
Success % 73% 62% 100%

For the Wallabies James O’Connor had a 100% record and Kurtley Beale 50%.

The following video takes a look at the position on the field each team took their kicks from and where they missed from.

[youtube id=”wtRcMPS2oXU” width=”600″ height=”480″]

What the Wallabies wouldn’t do to have a goal kicker like Morne Steyne and I suspect we’d take Dan Carter too.  Even though he had a poor Tri Nations with the boot he’s such a good kicker you’d expect him to bounce back to form over the next twelve months.

The question is whether Matt Giteau is also in a bit of a slump?  To answer that question let’s also look at the kicking results from the tests against Fiji, England and Ireland earlier this year.

Wallabies Matt Giteau
Conversion Attempts 14 9
Succesful 12 9
Success % 86% 100%
Penalty Attempts 15 9
Succesful 8 4
Success % 53% 44%
Total Attempts 29 18
Succesful 20 13
Success % 69% 72%

Giteau’s success rate in those four tests was better than that of Cooper in those tests (4/7 = 57%) but less than O’Connor (3/4 = 75%).

Now let’s look at Giteau’s performance over the last three years since Robbie Deans has been in charge.

2010 2009 2008 Total
Conversion Attempts 26 33 21 80
Succesful 22 26 14 62
Success % 85% 79% 67% 78%
Penalty Attempts 29 40 45 114
Succesful 18 29 33 80
Success % 62% 73% 73% 70%
Total Attempts 55 73 66 194
Succesful 40 55 47 142
Success % 73% 75% 71% 73%

So Giteau’s 73% success rate in the Tri Nations this year is the same as his average for all of 2010 and is right on his average for the last three years.  That doesn’t suggest he’s in a temporary form slump.  Either it’s a three year form slump or that’s about the best the Wallabies can expect.

Is 73% good enough to win a World Cup?  I don’t think so and that means it’s time for a change in kickers.  Any volunteers?

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Scott is one of our regular contributors from the old days of G&GR. He has experience coaching Premier Grade with two clubs in Brisbane.

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