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What Is a Drop Goal and How Is It Scored?

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Ever found yourself watching a rugby match and feeling baffled when the crowd erupts as a player seemingly just ‘kicks’ the ball? A drop goal is that electrifying moment, worth three points in rugby union.

This post will guide you through what it is, how it’s scored, and why it can turn games on their heads. Get ready to leap into the thrilling world of drop goals!

Key Takeaways

  • Drop kicking the ball between the uprights and over the crossbar during open play scores a drop goal, which adds three points in rugby union and one point in rugby league.
  • Originally, drop goals were worth more than tries, but changes to scoring systems have balanced different scoring methods across the game.
  • Players must weigh up many factors such as scoreline, time left, and their position on the field before attempting a strategic drop goal.
  • Despite being less common than other forms of scoring like tries or penalty kicks, drop goals remain a thrilling and potentially game-changing play.
  • The evolution of the rugby point system reflects changing tactics and maintains the excitement for fans by valuing different ways to score.

Understanding Rugby and Its Scoring System

Rugby thrives on a scoring system that rewards both power and precision. Points rack up through tries, conversions, penalty goals, and the skilled drop goal. A try scores the most points at five; it’s achieved when a player grounds the ball behind the opposing team’s goal line.

Afterward, they have a chance to kick for an additional two points with a conversion. Penalty goals also yield three points when successfully kicked over the crossbar between uprights as punishment for opposition infringements.

Drop goals add another layer of excitement to this mix. Players can attempt these during open play by dropping and then kicking the ball so that it sails between upright goal posts and above the crossbar – no easy feat amidst game pressure! With three points up for grabs in rugby union and one point in rugby league per successful drop goal, players use this tactic strategically to tip match scores in their favour or snatch victory from a deadlock.

Let’s delve into what constitutes a drop goal itself.

What Is a Drop Goal?

A drop goal in rugby is a method of scoring points by dropping the ball and then kicking it through the uprights. It can be scored in both rugby union and league, with different rules applying to each.


In rugby, a drop goal is scored by drop-kicking the ball over the crossbar and between the uprights during open play. This skillful move can be executed from any position on the field, often under intense pressure, adding an exhilarating element to the game.

In rugby union, a successful drop goal awards three points to the scoring team as opposed to one point in rugby league, making it a valuable scoring opportunity.

The execution of a drop goal requires precision timing and accuracy on behalf of the player attempting it. The unique nature of this scoring method distinguishes rugby from other sports and adds excitement for both fans and players alike.

How it is scored in rugby union and league

In rugby union, a drop goal is scored by drop-kicking the ball over the crossbar and between the uprights during open play. The kick must be executed while the player is in a position to attempt a try. In rugby league, a drop goal is also scored by drop-kicking the ball over the crossbar and between the uprights during open play, but it is worth one point. When successfully executed, a drop goal adds valuable points to a team’s score and can change the momentum of a game. It requires precision and timing, making it an impressive feat in both rugby codes.

History of Drop Goals in Rugby

The history of drop goals in rugby dates back to the early days of the sport, where it was a common method of scoring. Over time, the value and significance of drop goals have evolved as part of the game’s scoring system.

Evolution of scoring system

In the late 1800s, a try was worth three points and drop goals were worth four points, reflecting the evolving scoring system in rugby. The introduction of penalty goals in 1894 added another dimension to scoring.

However, over time, the value of a try and a drop goal shifted to their current point values of five and three points respectively. These changes demonstrate how the scoring system has adapted to reflect the game’s dynamics.

Moving on to “Importance and Usage of Drop Goals in Rugby”, let’s delve into how these tactical decisions can shape the outcome of a match.

Changes in point values for drop goals

  • The value of a dropped goal once exceeded that of a try, emphasising its strategic importance.
  • Adjusting the point values for drop goals has influenced teams’ tactical approaches to scoring during matches.
  • The decrease in point value for drop goals has highlighted the significance of other scoring methods such as tries and penalty kicks.
  • This change has contributed to greater variety in scoring strategies and heightened excitement for fans.
  • Rugby’s evolving point system demonstrates the sport’s adaptability while maintaining its core elements.

Importance and Usage of Drop Goals in Rugby

Drop goals are rare in rugby, but they can be crucial in tense moments of a game. Teams consider various tactical aspects before attempting a drop goal, making it an important strategic decision on the field.

Tactical considerations

Players must carefully assess the game situation, such as the current score, time remaining, and field position before attempting a drop goal. They need to be strategic in their decision-making to ensure that the timing is right and that they have a clear opportunity to execute the kick successfully.

Additionally, players should be aware of their own proficiency in drop-kicking and choose this option when confident in their ability.

Consequently, understanding tactical considerations can enhance fans’ appreciation for the skill and strategy involved in executing a successful drop goal. This aspect of rugby adds depth to the game’s overall excitement and showcases players’ abilities under pressure.

Rare but crucial moments in a game

Rare but crucial moments in a game often see the teams turning to the drop goal as a strategic play. With only a few minutes left on the clock and the score tied, players may opt for this high-pressure kick to secure victory.

The precision and composure required to execute a successful drop goal make these instances both nail-biting for fans and incredibly impactful on the outcome of matches.

In some cases, when time is running out, and other scoring opportunities are limited, teams can clinch narrow victories through well-timed drop goals. These pivotal moments highlight the unique skillset required in rugby and demonstrate how decisive a single kick can be in determining the result of a match.


In conclusion, the drop goal is a pivotal scoring technique in rugby, requiring precision and skill during open play. Its historical importance showcases the evolution of scoring systems in the sport, adding depth to its strategic elements.

Whether it’s breaking a tie or securing last-minute points, the drop goal plays a crucial role in intense moments of a game. Understanding its rules and tactical considerations enhances the overall appreciation and enjoyment of rugby for fans and players alike.


1. What exactly is a drop goal in rugby?

A drop goal in rugby is when a player scores points through a field goal by kicking the ball between the uprights and over the crossbar after it has been dropped and kicked before it touches the ground again.

2. How many points do you get for scoring a drop goal?

When you successfully score a drop goal in rugby, your team earns three points.

3. Is there a difference between a try and a drop goal?

Yes, there’s a big difference: A try involves carrying the ball over the opponents’ goal line and touching it down; that gets five points, while a drop kick from anywhere on the field of play for three.

4. Can any player attempt to score with a drop kick during play?

Indeed! Any rugby player can attempt to score with a field-goal-style kick known as “drop-kicking” at any moment during open play.

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