Wallabies general play kicking analysis and video

Wallabies – It’s Time For A Fightback! Part 4

Wallabies – It’s Time For A Fightback! Part 4

I’m now going to turn my attention to kicking in general play, having looked at the Wallabies’ first phase backline attack, scrums and lineouts in the first three parts of this series.

There are three issues I want to look at: the first is the level of kicking by the Wallabies in matches; the second is the decision making when kicking; and the third is the execution of the kicks.

Level of Kicking

Kicking in general play has always been a big part of Robbie Deans’s game plan for the Wallabies.

On the 2009 end-of-year tour the Wallabies kicked the ball far too much, averaging 36 kicks per match whilst their opposition averaged 32.

In all matches in 2010 the Wallabies averaged 16 kicks per match, the same number as the opposition.

In 2011 across all matches the Wallabies averaged 20 kicks per match – again, the same as their opposition.

The number of kicks per match is one measure of the level of kicking, and there were variations when looking at that level against all teams in 2011:

The other measure of the level of kicking is the percentage of kicks from the number of times a team has possession. In 2011 that measure also varied from match to match:

As you can see the trend for the percentage of kicking by teams the Wallabies played in 2011 was fairly constant. In contrast, the Wallabies started the season kicking less than their opposition and the level of their kicking increased over the course of the season.
In 2010 the Wallabies kicked 38 per cent of the time they had the ball compared to 41 per cent by their opposition. In 2011 that measure was 38 per cent compared to 44 per cent for the opposition, so the Wallabies’ level of kicking in 2010 and 2011 was actually less than their opposition.

That level of kicking is simply a reflection of the tactics in the game today. Kicking is an important part of the game and whilst there are improvements that can be made in decision making and execution with the Wallabies kicking, the level of kicking in 2010 and 2011 was not a significant issue in my opinion.

In the first two TRC matches this season against the All Blacks the Wallabies kicked an average of 21 times (or 46 per cent of the time they had possession). The All Blacks kicked an average of 18 times (39 per cent of possessions).

In TRC 1 the Wallabies kicked only 15 times (34 per cent) but in TRC 3 that level increased to 27 kicks (56 per cent). The All Blacks also increased their level of kicking across the two matches, but only up from 30 per cent of possession in TRC 1 to 45 per cent in TRC 3.

These numbers indicate that kicking is becoming a more important part of the Wallabies’ game plan in 2012.

The higher level of kicking by the Wallabies must have been part of the game plan to tackle the All Blacks at Eden Park but I think this increased level of kicking is too much. If I had to put a number on the optimum level of kicking in a game I would say an average of no more than 40 per cent of possessions would end with a kick.

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  • RJ

    The only chip kicks we need to see is J’ON chip kicking deans back over the tasman, and then we want to see Link chip kicking Horne out of the wallabies 22.

    • johnny-boy

      And Alexander and Phipps. Timani will probably also go to the bench at best as will Hooper and Barnes and AAC and McCabe and Samo and Dennis and Robinson. All guys who should not be first choice Wallabies. In will come at least Greg Holmes, Ben Mowen, Ben Tapaui, Nick White etc. Those that say not much will change with a new coach assume McKenzie will use the same players and same game plans as Deans which is incredibly naive, or kiwi trolling. They couldn’t be more wrong. The excellent commentary and video provided by Scott illustrates the All Blacks weren’t all that good, it’s just that the Wallabies (Tah players mainly not surprisingly) were just gifting the ball to the All Blacks and giving them chances to attack the Wallabies. It’s very very sad and damning. Keep it up Scott. You are doing Australian rugby a great service. The failings in the Wallabies play and game plan are exposed for all to see. Something an even moderately competent coach who could sucessfully communicate with the players could be expected to address.

    • Barbarian

      It saddens me when Scott has constructed a thorough analysis into kicking and the first comment brings up the tired, tired subjects of Deans and Horne.

      Would it kill you to engage with the article, rather than spout your unrelated opinion which has been done to death on every other fucking article?

      • johnny-boy

        To be fair Barbs Scott has said pretty much everything that needs to be said about kicking. I notice you don’t have anything constructive about kicking to say yourself.

      • RJ

        So Barbs, would you prefer I spoke about the fact that AAC/Beale and Barnes all have horrtah syndrome and kick the ball away too much.

        Is that not a tired subject yet either?

        • Barbarian

          At least that has some link to the article.

  • richard

    By all means, get McKenzie in there, but there are no guarantees that he will turn things around for you.

    As as ab fan, I would be more concerned if oz got Jake White into the top job – he would address the real weakness of your team – your forwards!

    • Dave

      Forwards weren’t the problem, at least at Eden park. It was the backs. Gifting pocession back to the ABs. The forwards actually stepped up and showed they can mix it with the ABs best even though WB incumbents weren’t available through injury. I thought Timani was a stand out. Let’s hope he can consistently perform like this.

      Jake White would do one more thing and that is place a premium on kicking with effectiveness. And chase, chase dammit! He’ll also get someone in that can pass on this long forgotten (in Australia anyway) skill effectively. But then again so would Link. The Reds have a pretty good kicking game after all. So did the Tahs back in the day.

  • Mart

    Scott! I object. “Barnes kicking just for the sake of kicking”?!?



  • Mart

    Wow the second last kick on the vid, from AAC was a barry.

    Hence he is not a fullback, or winger. Leave him at 13

  • Lee Enfield

    Another great analysis, it makes for very interesting and depressing reading all at once. The Wallabies and Australian players in general have some work ahead of them if we are going to achieve the standard and quality of play we need to beat the All Blacks more regularly and the rest of the world more conistently. This series of analytical articles has just demonstrated how far behind the 8 ball we are, and also how far the rest of the world are behind the 8 ball if we are ahead of them.

    This type of play was what I witnessed as an unfortunate member of the crowd at the Waratah home games. Aimless and pointless kicking, poor decisions in attack and inaccurate passing. Too many times I sat there with a sigh of WTF.

    The coaching staff at both Super and National level need to get their shit together, as this mess is not isolated to one franchise or one cause. I fear that without a collective effort by all parties to work towards the same common goal, the improvement of Rugby in Australia, we can expect to see a lot more if this from the Wallabies and Super franchises.

  • Chucka

    Most (Not all) of those kicks would have been alot better if there was some decent kick chasing. It looks like Barnes has been instructed to kick but no one told the outside backs the game plan

    • spectator

      yes, the whole backline play with ‘attacking’ kicks need to be better but they should not be entirely abandoned, just worked upon. It was not an trad. England kicking type of game tactic in play and that is positive.

      A fluent attacking kickin dynamic in the backline with 50% or more retention from that should cause as much grief for the opposition as expansive attack ball in hand backline play, to really dominate different oppositions, because executed properly, it is creating half-chances going forward most times.

      When the opposition is made to defend a backline attacking kick game, it is conceding more to expansive attack ball in hand as being a better option to defend against, which against a good kickin attack, can be the least expensive option to take once you start looking at lightning tries from unsettled game formations.

      It is an aspect of play usually relegated to open play, often at the latter stages of games due to it’s ‘high risk’, but that is in part because it is never really looked at or incorporated as part of an overall approach.

  • Moz

    Fantastic Scott, but God its depressing….

    I watched the game in Singapore and we had the Kiwi commentators, who I thought did a good job. They were laughing at the Wallabies kicking game, which was pretty justified. I remember towards the end, one of them made the comment “The Wallabies are behind 22- 0, they need to keep the ball in hand, and, oh no, they have kicked it again..” and they all started laughing…. Says it all really…

  • That video – mine eyes, mine eyes

  • Razz

    That was one of the most painful videos Ive ever watched.

    • Scott Allen

      How much fun do you think it was for me having to wade through all the other poor kicks to select these examples for the video!

      Particularly after I’d watched my videos going all the way back to 2009 pointing out the same issues.

  • chasmac

    Barnes is so deep he cannot get the chasers onside.

  • sarina

    I herd the kiwi commentary too and then aus one lata. The kiwis wer laughn but i didnt think in a mocking way. They wer far beta than kearns who just bleated n moaned all game and wouldnt actually commentate on the game. But even he moaned about the aimless kikn.

    • le roo


  • There appears to be a fundamental flaw in the kicking technique of the Wallabies too Scott.
    Any decent kicking coach will tell a kicker to pick out an extremely specific target to aim at when kicking.
    For instance when kicking for touch, aim at a particular letter on an advertising signboard in the stand or particular person in the crowd. Even when kicking to chase or regather you’re still taught to pick out a target such as a line or other field marking.

    In a number of the early video clip examples you’ll notice;
    No such target is visually pre-determined by the kickers.
    Their mechanical body alignment is in no way related to where they want the kick to land.

    • Scott Allen

      Good points.

      I wonder which coach is looking after kicking – it must be Robbie, which given all the other things he has on his plate would mean it’s not getting the attention it needs.

      • Deez

        I realize he is already gone, but this was something I always admired about Mark Gerrard’s game. Accurate boot with lots of distance. Always seemed like he had an eternity to kick. Solid under the high ball, even if hes lost a atep of pace. Could also use his 102kgs and 194cms in our back line right now…

  • Patrick

    Given that Beale and JO’C spend most of their time hanging out with AFL players, you would hope that they would actually practise kicking with them too (and marking, in Beale’s case)!

    • Uncle Percy

      Given that AFL players would be some of the best kickers of non-round balls in professional sport I am flabbergasted that the Wallabies haven’t employed somebody with AFL experience to teach rudimentary (let alone advanced) kicking and catching (marking) skills. If I heard correctly the Foxsports commentators were saying that an ex-AFL bloke was recently hired as Dan Carter’s kicking coach after being knocked back by several Aussie franchises. If this is true how is it that the AB’s have the wisdom to learn from other sports but the moron administrators and coaches here do not? FFS they share the same stadiums and facilities! What the hell is going on?!

  • TSR

    Scott – normally I really enjoy your analysis. Now I am just starting to get more and more depressed. Can’t we go back to when it was just our scrums that were shit?

    • Scott Allen

      TSR – hang in there, we’re through the worst of it now.

      Ideas for forwards attack structure in Part 5 tomorrow.

      Defence performance in Part 6 on Friday (expecting that to be a bit more positive).

      Summary on Saturday to remind everyone what to watch out for on Saturday night.

  • Cantab abroad

    Question, what influence, if any, do the wobs coaching staff have over S15 coaching staff? Can they tell the S15 staff to specifically sort out player A’s kicking technique etc? (or scrum, or lineout …. or just how much they eat :) )

    Or are they completly seperate entities?

    All of Scotts excellent analysis articles are pointing to some really basic skills that are missing. Coaches of national sides shouldn’t have to re-teach basics surely?

  • danny

    The thing that struck me when looking at the clip was how relaxed the ABs were when the ball was kicked back their way. And why wouldn’t they be?

  • Dave

    That’s a horror flick! Either that or it needs to be put to the Benny Hill soundtrack.

    What gets me is some of those kicks weren’t under any real pressure. They were just . . . poor. That Barnes’ kick into their 22, did he not realise that the only chasers were his front row?!

    Confidence must be low. Genia, although he box kicks far too often, normally kicks accurately with purpose. Rarely does he boot a shocker like that one on the half time mark.

  • le roo

    Great analysis Scott!

    It would be interested to know how we fare against NZ/SA in stats relating to contesting/retaining possession from contestable kicks (restarts, high balls).

    It often seems like WB kicks are a way of giving the ball back when they are not sure what else to do, where the AB kick is a genuine chance to contest for possession, only much closer to opposition tryline and moving forward.

    It is safe to say the outcome of a highball contest is affected by a number of factors: the accuracy of the kick, combined with the effort, skill and commitment of its chasers, and the placement of “lazy” defensive runners. But it seems like it is one of the fundamental elements of the game, and as such should be practiced until it can be executed under pressure in a variety of situations.

    If I was a betting man I would say it is something the ABs practice a lot more at training than the Wallabies.

  • sarina

    I rekn sa practice it more than anyone as their whole game revolves around it. Wen they losn or things not goin well they resort to type. Watch for it this wk end

    • Dave

      I . . . don’t . . . understand . . .

      • Moz

        I thuk she sad tht whn goood wer goood, un whn we note ggod wer bard, un we dun bad stuf.


  • Great video Scott, I hope someone flicks the link to Braam so he can talk about it with the boys in their next Skype session

  • Left Field

    First thing I do in the morning is open up the G&GR for the insightful analysis that breaks down the weekend tripe into analytical, “here is exactly what happened” analysis. How can you improve if you don’t know what is happening. Does anyone ever contact you to take advantage of the skills you have.

  • Dirt Tracker

    It may be relevant here to repeat a story that Jeff Wilson told in his autobiography.

    One of his coaches asked him where his eyes were after kicking the ball – did he watch it or was his attention on his running lines?

    Wilson’s reply “which end of the ball?”. In other words, he kicked the ball when it was in a particular position, and watched just one tip of the ball in its flight.

    If you watch footage of Wilson’s kicks, the ball bounced true when it landed, due to landing on its point. That was due to the way he kicked it.

    The Wallabies wings do not watch the ball when they kick it, it is not kicked off its point, and it is a lottery where the ball is going to go on its first bounce/ regather.

    Reap what you sow.

  • Mick

    Great analysis as always Scott.

    That kick from Barnes around the 2 min mark in your video just makes me want to yell at my computer screen! (even though it was 2 weeks ago!). Just dumb, dumb, dumb. Such a waste of great field position and possession. Surely he must get chastised for that.


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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