What's the secret behind the perfect rugby kick?

Alive and kicking

To succeed in international rugby union a team needs a top quality goal kicker.

With tight, rugby league-style defences and good team discipline, a side that squanders its penalties or conversions cannot expect to win a Test match. So what's the secret behind the perfect rugby kick?

A lonely job

With modern goal kickers expected to be near flawless, James Hook provides a personal insight into taking the big pressure kicks.

When the heat is on, a kicker falls back on his carefully-honed routine. From cleaning the mud off his boots to tossing a few blades of grass into the air, each has his own tried and trusted pre-kick ritual... but then it all comes down to the biomechanics of the kick itself.

Changing styles

As rugby union has evolved from an amateur pastime to a professional sport, the game's approach to the place kick has been refined and perfected.

Midland Counties v South Africa in September 1906

Midland Counties v South Africa in September 1906: The fashion was for the kicker to ask a team mate to lie prostrate propping up the ball for him with his finger. The kicker's approach is head-on with the toe making contact with the ball.

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Thorburn’s 'monster'

Thorburn’s kick was measured at 64.2 metres and was regarded as the longest successful kick in an international Test match. Wales beat Scotland 22-15.

Click or tap on the hand and drag the arrow across to see Paul Thorburn’s colossal 1986 Five Nations penalty for Wales against Scotland.

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