The problem with a two-point loss as the All Blacks have just suffered, is that so much of the post-match analysis is dominated by the final few minutes.

Particularly the last minute and the question of whether they made the right call to reject the chance of dropping a goal is one that will now be asked for days.

And it is important to realise that the All Blacks rejected rather than ignored the possibility of setting up for a field goal in that last play of the game.

"The call went out to take a shot there," says All Blacks halfback TJ Perenara. "We went to set for it but then we got a picture where we have a three-on-two and for me there is a lot more things that can go wrong in a drop goal than can in a three-on-two.


"If we execute that we are not having this conversation about a drop goal. But the decision to set up for it did definitely happen. It was a call that got given but if I was out there I would have made the same call and looking back on it, I still think it was the right call."

So, from being ready to execute the three-point attempt, the All Blacks suddenly changed plans after a number of phases which saw the forwards bash fruitlessly around the fringes of multiple rucks on the Springboks try-line.

At the last second the backline believed they saw a numerical advantage to exploit and so they backed themselves to do so by attacking right.

Beauden Barrett passed to Damian McKenzie who had effectively beaten Springboks wing Aphiwe Dyantyi who had rushed up to close the space.

At that point the decision to cancel the drop goal was inspired. McKenzie just needed to veer right and either make it to the line or throw a simple pass to Ben Smith who would have gone over to win the game.

But Dyantyi managed to stick out a hand and dislodge the ball from McKenzie's grasp and that was the end of the game and the beginning of the debate about whether the All Blacks had made the right decision.

Their attacking psyche, as Perenara contests, kept their minds open to all possibilities in that last minute. For him, and no doubt most of his teammates, the business of beating players with ball in hand seems less fraught than asking someone to drop kick the ball between the posts.

And it is this view where the crux of this whole 'was it the right thing to do?' business lies.


The potential for a drop goal set up to go wrong seems significantly less than that of a three-pass attacking move.

The All Blacks had the ball safely at the back of a ruck three metres from the Springboks line almost in front of the posts. At that point it takes just one good pass to the kicker who is either successful or not and from 20 metres, straight in front, the odds are weighted in favour of the former.

The execution is by no means easy but it is low risk in that there is less opportunity for things to go wrong. To borrow from Shakespeare – to try and to miss is better than to never have tried at all.

But New Zealanders don't have a natural inclination to drop goals. It's not built in to the game plan the way it is in say England, South Africa or Ireland and therefore there is a lack of confidence within the All Blacks to try them.

There is a mental barrier that tells players it is a high risk option and that the safer route to follow in the pursuit of victory is that of pass and catch.

But logically the All Blacks' thinking is not right. There are, as was proven to be the case, significantly more things that can go wrong when the ball is moved through the hands.

The passes have to be caught for a start. The timing has to be good, the defence has to be manipulated and one tiny error or one random hand and that's it, game lost.

But there are bigger and more important questions for the All Blacks to ask themselves about the Wellington loss.

Their defence was poor. They gave away two soft tries. They weren't clinical enough with their own opportunities earlier in the game and some of their decision-making was random.

But still, having found themselves chasing three points in the last minute, they will need a robust internal debate as to whether they would spurn the chance of setting for the drop goal again.

They simply need to change their risk assessment about drop goals - downgrade them from being seen as weirdly difficult.

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