USA Rugby Goal Kicking Hot Take
When thinking of American rugby a few things come to mind - big, physical, and hard. Many of these words highlight what may be a strength of North American rugby, a consistent ability to produce large athletes who rely on size. Paul Lasike, Joe Taufete’e, Titi Lamositele, and Roman Salanoa are just a few US produced players who fit this mold. One thing that never comes to mind when thinking of American Rugby is kicking, a skill that has been woefully absent in the national team (aside from AJ MacGinty but he is not USA produced)
As rugby grows in the US, kicking is a skill that must follow. Having an accurate and reliable player off the tee is one of the most deadly weapons a team can have. A good kicker is what can make or break a team, even the mighty All Blacks have fallen due to inconsistency from the tee - a large reason why Beauden Barrett has been moved to full back. Kickers such as Owen Farrell and Handre Pollard were the heartbeat to their sides in the 2019 World Cup, always managing to keep opposition out of sight with their lights out kicking numbers.
Kicking is arguably the most important skill a back can posses in modern day rugby. And simply put, more kids should be doing it, it should not be a skill only possessed by fly halves. The art of kicking comes down to repetition. The more you do it, the better you will be. It really is just one of those things that gets better with time and practice.
One thing that I always hear from young kickers is that they can’t get any distance. The most important thing when kicking for goal, especially at a young age, is to create a solid foundation, making sure you create a routine that works for you. The distance comes with practice and age, as long as kids are learning to kick along a straight line, the progression to kicking from further out and at harder angles will come naturally. If the USA really wants to break out in the international scene, we must do so with a fleet of quality young kickers.