Randell: Time to punt value of kicks into touch

TAINE RANDELL
Last updated 05:00 17/08/2014
Jonny Wilkinson
Reuters
KICKING STAR: England rugby icon Jonny Wilkinson was a handy kicker when he came to dropped goals.

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OPINION: Dropped goals aren't in the spirit of the game.

If I had my way they would only be worth one point.

The rule changes being implemented across the Tasman in Australia's new domestic competition got me thinking. The Aussies are trialling a reduction in the the value of a penalty and dropped kick to two points - and making a conversion worth three.

It's good to see them experimenting but I don't think they've got it right.

By decreasing penalties, the unintended consequences would be a lot more cynical infringing. Yes, they've got the yellow card to deal with that but if you've got one player in the sin bin very rarely will the referee send another one off. I'd be reluctant to change a penalty from three points for that reason.

I'd like to see dropped kicks worth one point as in rugby league.

That's because I strongly believe dropped kicks aren't in the spirit of the game.

Two World Cups have been won by dropped kicks. In 1995 against the All Blacks South Africa's Joel Stransky and against Australia in 2003 England's Jonny Wilkinson won the treasured crown for their respective countries this way. And there's many other examples of when that method of scoring has been incredibly influential. Are we happy that our game at the highest level should be dictated by dropped kicks? I don't think so. It's against the inherent values of how you play rugby.

I think tries should be worth six points and conversions worth one.

There are lots of different styles around how to play rugby but we should be encouraging try scoring over penalties.

Dropped kicks shouldn't be worth as much as a penalty. The spirit of rugby is to score tries. If people are acting illegally then you get a penalty. Dropped kicks rate a distant third. They are used as a bailout when you can't score tries.

That is a very New Zealand perspective - a view that wouldn't be shared by South Africa, England, Scotland and probably Argentina. Personally, I see rugby as a running, power-based, physically intimidating game. Dropped kicks are a genuine throw back to when William Webb first picked up the ball.

The game has moved on immeasurably since then. While I appreciate it requires a bit of skill and adds more variety to the game, I believe it's worth too much.

These changes would give greater reward for scoring tries, which in essence is why we play and watch the game. When tries moved from four to five points that was a big change and had a huge impact on the game. Increasing them to six points - the same as two penalties - seems like a fair balance.

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I also like the idea of setting a timeframe for scrums.

Over the last few seasons, there's been a lot of talk about scrum engagement and how much time is being wasted.

As the props got used to the new calls that topic died off. There's certainly not the same furore there was at the start of the year.

Without seeing the stats, I think it's really positive they've sorted out that part of the game out. But I do feel that time should be stopped when a scrum collapses. Otherwise you waste another 30 seconds to a minute before the next one is set.

Taine Randell is a former All Blacks captain

- Sunday News

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