AWS Game Notes

Which forwards have kicked furthest in this year’s Guinness Six Nations?

Forwards display many virtues and talents on the rugby field but kicking isn’t normally one of them.

Forwards display many virtues and talents on the rugby field but kicking isn’t normally one of them.

While back-rowers such as Neil Back and Sergio Parisse are notable for having notched drop goals during their international careers, they are very much the exception rather than rule.

Yet sometimes the big men in the pack can’t resist putting boot to ball, convincing themselves that they are just as capable of kicking as their team-mates in the backs.

The first three rounds of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations have seen five forwards opt to kick in open play so far, with England second-rower George Kruis providing one particularly memorable moment.

Kicking was one skill Kruis had kept firmly in his locker during a successful England career to date, until last weekend’s Round 3 match against Ireland at Twickenham.

That clash was just over a minute old when the Saracens star spotted space behind the visiting defence and put boot to ball.

Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray ultimately intercepted the grubber kick but the intent was applauded and it got us thinking about the other forwards who have put their kicking skills into action during this year’s Guinness Six Nations.

A look at the MatchStats  – powered by AWS – show that Scotland flanker Jamie Ritchie leads the way for those in the pack following an impressive clearance kick in their Round 3 win in Rome which made 43 metres.

This puts him 11 metres clear of Italy’s back-rower Sebastian Negri, while Wales star Justin Tipuric rounds off the top three having kicked 28 metres.

Scott Cummings (18 metres) and Kruis complete the top five but the England man seems unlikely to add to his tally of two metres, telling The Telegraph in the aftermath that he won’t be attempting a similar kick again.

As Kruis probably realised, sometimes it’s better to leave the kicking to the experts!

In terms of those who you’d expect to put boot to ball, it is Kruis’ England teammate George Ford who leads the way for overall metres kicked in this year’s Guinness Six Nations with 1,183.

France start Romain Ntamack (1,170m) and Italy fly-half Tommaso Allan (1,168m) follow narrowly the Englishman behind with two rounds to go.

There are two further Frenchman in the top six with scrum-half Antoine Dupont lying fourth in the standings, having kicked for 938m, and full-back Anthony Bouthier booting the ball 756m – with Scotland’s Adam Hastings sandwiching them on 803m.

Whether we see any more forwards dusting off their kicking boots during the remainder of the Championship, as well as who leads the overall metres kicked standings, will be interesting sub-plots to follow.