George Ford revealed he practises drop goals at every training session which gave him the skill to land three as he accumulated a match winning 27 points to give 14 man England victory to launch their Rugby World Cup campaign against Argentina in Marseille.
Jonny Wilkinson’s Cup winning drop goal in 2003 has a special place in English rugby history and Ford has shown that it is skill that never goes out of fashion.
Ford said: “ We understand how big they are in general but especially at World Cups. It is just such a great weapon. If you get a penalty you are probably going to go for three more often than not. It is exactly the same. In situations like tonight to keep the scoreboard ticking over when you are not necessarily getting penalties every so often then the drop goal is a great weapon. “
Ford insisted the early sending off of flanker Tom Curry did not trigger his drop goal strategy and explained:” No it’s part of our general plan. We know how important and big drop-goals can be at World Cups. Just the way the game unfolded, we went a man down quite early but it was greasy tonight, it was difficult to hold the ball for many phases.
“ In our heads we wanted to be clinical in terms of coming away with points when we had good field position. Even that last one we were only seven metres out but it’s incredibly hard to attack when they’ve got a lot of numbers in the line. We wanted to come in [to half-time] more than seven ahead.”
Wilkinson paid tribute to Ford’s kicking and said on ITV:” Three drop goals before half-time? That’s certainly nothing I have ever done.Drop goals are hard. If you hit a drop goal from 50 metres, let alone a straight 50 metres, is an incredible thing to do. To do two of them is great. It’s inspiring a performance.”
Curry was give a yellow card later upgraded to red for a head contact with Pumas fullback Juan Cruz Mallia but in the seventh minute Santiago Carreras was sent to the sin bin for jumping into opposite number Ford but this was not deemed serious enough to warrant a red card elevation.
Ford added: “It honestly didn’t feel like we were a man down at times. It’s unbelievable- the mentality you can have when you are a man down and you don’t make it feel like that. It’s a probably a big lesson for us that. Obviously, field position for us was crucial. Set piece was brilliant tonight, and our discipline in defence took a massive step forward. That got us field position to kick points.
“There are different motivations aren’t there? We don’t want to be a team that just relies on adversity, of course not, but I don’t think it is a bad trait to have when something goes against you that brings the best out of you. Having said that it is only game one and we have a lot of improving and building to do. The key thing to do is to get back to work next week and put in another brilliant performance like that against Japan.”
Pumas coach Michael Cheika said: “Ford play the card perfectly in a stop start scenario which is what they wanted. Full credit to England and they didn’t let us get any flow.”