Patrick Gower: Where was the droppie?

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My first words after the All Blacks shock loss yesterday: where the hell was the droppie?

Why didn't someone take control and get in there and bang the pig-skin over?

Droppie, drop goal, drop kick, DG, pot, field goal - call it what you like, it is a key tool in the matchwinner's toolbox.

So why didn't someone - anyone - get in the pocket behind those slow grinding pick-and-gos deep in French territory, stand back, advise the halfback of his honourable intentions, call "yup, now", get the ball, set himself, and drop kick the ball? Preferably over the posts. 21-20 to the All Blacks. Run back to halfway, punch the air - a swing of the foot has made you a legend.

But no. I say preferably over the posts, because I would have been happy to see that a drop goal was even attempted; because it wasn't. It wasn't attempted at particularly opportune times of 77 minutes and 26 seconds or 78 minutes and 50 seconds (not that I was counting). Instead, there was a late, disorganised, long-range attempt by Luke McAlister, who probably didn't care because he was a few seconds away from playing for English club Sale anyway.

Droppies are not rocket science. I even nailed one myself in a game for my Poneke club in the late 1990s - and I was playing in the forwards.

Every other New Zealand rugby fan who has nailed a droppie should be feeling the same way - if we can do it, why can't the best and most-prepared All Black team ever? Kids dream of it, why can't the best rugby players we have do it.

I was so riled I nearly rang radio talkback. Thankfully I managed to compose myself. I know being an armchair critic is not a good look. But I was genuinely disappointed by the result and the whole lack-of-a-droppie-thing had sent me into a tailspin.

I had steeled myself to be blasé about another All Black early exit. I probably could have dealt with the whole choking thing. I could have handled the spectacular - and predicted - failure of the rest and rotation policy. Shocking refereeing decisions - they happen. The silver jumpers were a sideshow. The fact we had 72 per cent of the possession and France 28 per cent hurt, but I still could have recovered.

But no droppie? Foxy and Mehrts were so quiet in the commentary box and the pocket so empty I thought one or both may have run out there.

Do the All Blacks even know what one is? If they don't they need to get onto YouTube and type in "Martin Johnson+Wilko+2003 Rugby World Cup" to see how to set one up. They could have watched it on their laptops while sunning themselves in Corsica or Marseilles.

In fact, it is hard to believe they didn't work through a player-by-player drop kick scenario during all the time they had off the Super 14 or the NPC or mowing their own lawns so they were "fresh" for knock-out rugby.

Yes, Carter was off and Evans too. But McAlister could have nailed it and MacDonald too. Where was the much vaunted "leadership group" set up to prevent these meltdowns?

Did they forgot to appoint someone to the portfolio of "remind-everyone-of-the-droppie-option-in-a-tight-game" in the rush to choose what music is on the team bus?

They were either too arrogant that they thought they could win by a try or they didn't think of it. Either way, a shocker.

If only Graham Henry had an emergency red button with a lid on it he could have pulled open and hit drop goal.

For me, the lack-of-a-droppie is the fissure where I can vent my Webb Ellis frustration. Like "Suzy" in 1995, the French-fried forward pack in 1999 or MacDonald at centre in 2003.

So where the hell was the droppie? For me, anyway, an open-ended question and personal obsession that will get me through another four years. And, hopefully, if there's a close one, someone will bang the pigskin over.

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