The Glory of '95: Most memorable drop goals of the World Cup

By Sports Reporter Time of article published Jun 24, 2020

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Ah, yes, the now forgotten and arcane art of the drop goal … It is rare to witness the skill of the droppy in the modern game, although it is always a wonderful moment when a player slot one over. 

Here we look at the most memorable drop goals from the World Cup 1995.

3 Brooke multiplies England’s pain by three

Zinzane Brooke is perhaps the archetype of what a brilliant eightman should be. He had pace, strength and skill and that was exemplified against England in their semi-final at Newlands in 1995. 

The New Zealanders were already in full control of the encounter, and Jonu Lomu was having an absolute blinder against them, so when Brooke fielded a kick in the All Blacks’ half during the first half, he had a moment of contemplation, pondering if he should attack the English line with his teammates in support. 

Instead the All Blacks' No 8 opted for a piece of audacious skill. He took a couple of steps into the English half and dropped the ball onto his foot, hoofing over a 48m drop goal to increase the English’s dejection and further cement New Zealand’s hold on the proceedings. 

It was a thing of beauty.

2 World Champions fall to Andrew’s boot

The quarter-final between the defending champions Australia and Five Nations champs England was a brutal encounter. And after trading several penalties and a try apiece the two nations were locked in at 22-22 in the final minutes of the encounter. 

Having survived an 80th minute attack in their half and an attempted drop goal by David Campese, the English won back possession with the clock entering injury time and drove upfield into the Australian territory. Into the spotlight stepped Englishman Rob Andrew and his unerring foot. Fielding a pass from a maul, England’s No 10 wasted no time, dropping his head and planting his boot through the ball from the Aussie 10m line. The agle was difficult, the strike pure and high, the outcome … a famous 25-22 victory, sealed in the 83th minute.   

1 The Duel of the Fates

A match worthy of a John Williams score, the 1995 Rugby World Cup final was won and lost by the feet of the opposing flyhalves. No drop goal has been as important to South African rugby - with apologies to Jannie de Beer in 1999 - as the extra-time effort by Joel Stransky and its memory will forever reverberate through the annals of the sport and history. 

But Stransky’s opposite, Andrew Mertehns also played his part on the day. The two No 10 traded an equal amount of penalties - three each - but it was their drop goals that define the match.

Stransky slotted his first effort over in the 31st minute, and Mertehns repaid it in kind with an equally important droppy in the 55th to level the scores 9-9. As full time approached, the All Black flyhalf attempted another drop goal, but much to the relief of all South Africans his shot was wide.

Come the final minutes of extra-time, with the scores once again tied, this time at 12-12, Stransky wrote his name into legend. From the base of a scrum in the All Black half, Springbok scrumhalf Joost van der Westhuizen delivered a crisp pass to his No 10, who cooly dropped the ball onto his boot, and laced the kick through the up-rights.

Cue jubilation and ultimately World Cup victory for the Boks.

IOL Sport

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