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Friday, January 27, 2006


International Rugby: Play golf, win the Webb-Ellis Trophy. Simple.

HERE is England’s secret weapon for the next rugby union World Cup: a seven-iron. And the golf club will not be used to cause an injury to Dan Carter, New Zealand’s star fly half.

By Patrick Kidd
Source: The Times,

Our correspondent finds a specialist coach driving kicking standards on to a higher level with a novel method

HERE is England’s secret weapon for the next rugby union World Cup: a seven-iron. And the golf club will not be used to cause an injury to Dan Carter, New Zealand’s star fly half.

Next week, before their first match in the RBS Six Nations Championship, the man at whose feet England’s hopes are placed will be hitting ball after ball across the Twickenham pitch. Not large oval rugby balls, but the small white pellets normally associated with sportsmen who have less muscle and worse fashion sense. Working on his players’ golf swing is the new tactic of Dave Alred, England’s kicking coach.

“It’s the same fundamental principle as kicking a ball, you’re trying to get your power through the ball in the direction that you want it to travel,” Alred said. “In the same way that a golfer who hits off the back foot will be more erratic, we’re working on transferring the weight properly to eliminate mistakes.”

So Charlie Hodgson will be given his seven-iron and told to work on his follow-through. Whether his efforts are up to scratch will be seen against Wales. Alred certainly believes that Hodgson has come on immensely since last season, when he kicked poorly, particularly against France.

“Charlie has been really flowing,” Alred said. “He’s put a lot of work in and I thought he played sensationally on the Lions tour and was metronomic during the autumn internationals.”

Alred is grateful for the support that he has been given by Hodgson’s club, Sale Sharks, particularly Philippe Saint- Andre, the director of rugby. “Philippe is fantastic at letting Charlie have his head,” Alred said.

This is more than Bath have done for Olly Barkley. The 24-year-old centre, first capped for England in 2001 before he had made his debut for his club, had an erratic start to the season and, egged on by his club coach and his mother, ditched the Alred style of kicking, saying: “Tiger Woods isn’t letting down 14 other blokes when he swings a golf club.”

It is perhaps just as well then that Barkley will not be joining in the golf at Twickenham this week, having dislocated his thumb, but Alred insists that there are no problems in their relationship. “It’s a shame that criticism about his work with England affecting his play for Bath was levelled through the press,” he said. “For some people to try and hang on to the status quo was to the detriment of the player, but Olly was always clear on what he wanted to do with me.”

Alred will be in Trafalgar Square today as people try to show off their kicking skills to win a ticket to a Six Nations game. He has travelled a long way from the days when he used to coach Stuart Barnes and Jon Webb at Bath while wearing a balaclava. Having spent time as a rugby league player and an American footballer with the Minnesota Vikings, Alred was twice banned by the RFU for professionalism and he had to do his coaching in secret.

Now he is flavour of the month and he owes it all to a dropped goal in a World Cup by an England fly half against Australia. No, not that one. The kick that made Alred’s name was Rob Andrew’s in the 1995 World Cup quarter- finals. It knocked Australia, whom Alred had been coaching a year earlier, out of the competition.

Later that year, Andrew introduced Alred to a shy 16-year-old called Jonny whose parents drove him from Surrey to Newcastle every week for rugby training. What happened next has been mentioned in these pages before, but Alred says that it was not obvious Wilkinson would become a star. “All a coach can do is enable someone to practise more effectively,” he said. “I’ve watched dozens of talented players but can count on the fingers of two hands those who have gone away and worked hard at their game, as Jonny did.”

Who knows what future Wilkinsons, Barkleys and Hodgsons will catch his eye in Trafalgar Square today?
Why dont they learn to play soccer with Bafana Bafana!  
no why dont they teach bafana bafana rather.

interesting, this is actually a very old technique, or training method - well not ancient but nothing new.

like the arti said, you need the weight transfered correctly to be a good kicker. balance is everything and how your wieght is transfered (ie. your head needs to almost over the ball - leaning forward more than back) and where your weight is concentrated when striking the ball is 90% of the technique involved with kicking.

if your wight is more on the back foot, your head will tend to look up more than down, your timing would thus be out of sequence and the resulting kick erratic at best.

like a golf swing - keep your head down and follow through, in order to keep your head down make sure your weight, or body, is moving forward, not backwards.

surely they still teach our flyhalfs this....
Who is Bafana Bafana?

I know we used to have a decent soccer team by that name, but something happened and they do not exist anymore.
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