Andy Goode is having a dramatic season for London Wasps.
By his own admission, Andy Goode was having a poor game against Exeter recently in the Aviva Premiership. Things just were not clicking and the pressure started to mount on the London Wasps fly-half. However, it didn’t stop the “grizzled veteran number 10” cooly slotting over a 45 metre drop goal in the last play of the game to win the match. This season, more so then his previous seasons, says a lot about Andy Goode and the qualities a top class fly-half needs to display week on week.
At the top of his profession for 16 seasons, Goode has done it all. He has represented some of the biggest names in world rugby including Leicester Tigers, Saracens, Brive, the Sharks, Worcester and London Wasps. With 17 English caps to his name, Goode has won the Premiership, LV=Cup, the Heineken Cup. Here he shares his insights and experience of directing play in the No 10 shirt.
What are the main responsibilities of the No.10?
In American terms, I guess you could compare it to the quarterback.The fly-half calls all the attacking plays determined by where your team is on the pitch. If the fly-half is also one of the teams main kickers, which they invariably are, I suppose you could compare the fly half to the equivalent of the field goal kicker, punter and quarterback, all rolled up in one.
If an American football team is on their fourth down and deep inside their own half, they need to tactically kick the ball away and more then likely turn over possession. That is just the same for us in rugby if we are deep inside our own 22 and need to kick the ball away to relieve the pressure. Unlike American football, which has specialists for each skilled position, rugby players, most notably fly halves, needs to have an array of skills to allow them to kick, run, pass and make all of the attacking play calls for his team.
What are the most enjoyable elements of playing Fly-half?
The control you have on the game. I tend to compare it to a game of chess. As fly-half you are making the calls to try to outwit the opposition’s defence. This is obviously based on the coach’s analysis of the opposition as well as the training done during the week.
Having the responsibility to make a play call and then executing the play under pressure from the opposition is very enjoyable.
That is what makes rugby an exciting challenge each week. The game is constantly evolving and I am still learning more now then I ever have before.
Most important skills for young 10s?
Passing, catching & kicking: Except for the scrum half, the 10 probably touches the ball more then anyone else during the game. You are the fulcrum of distribution for your team. Fly-halves need to have the whole range of passes available to them, short pop passes, long passes, flat passes and everything in between. 10s needs to be able to pass just as well off both hands also. We can’t have a “weak side”!
Kicking: If you are also the team’s goal kicker, which a lot of fly-halves are, you must be able to have the full range of kicks as well. Kicking both out of hand and for points are skills that need to be practicsed a lot. To name but a few, fly halves need to be able to execute long kicks for territory, high kicks for possible turn overs or ball retention, cross field kicks for scoring opportunities, grubber kicks for getting behind the opposition and a lot more. Add conversion and penalty kicks into this and you can see a lot of responsibilities for on the flyhalf.
Game Management: Having the ability to make the right calls in the game at the right time. Call it what you want, game awareness, play management, vision, whatever the case may be, fly-halves are the players who “pull the strings” for the whole team so understanding the game, looking for cues in the opposition, and studying a lot of game film all goes hand in hand with being a good fly half. There is always plenty to learn and always lots of areas you can get better at. Game management becomes slightly easier with age and experience but because the game is constantly evolving, there are always new ways of doing things.
Your advice for young 10s?
Play with a smile on your face. First and foremost you have to enjoy yourself. That is what it is all about. It’s great fun to get out there and play rugby with your mates so why not show you are enjoying yourself. At the weekend, I was having a terrible kicking game for a while and the crowd cheered me when I finally made a kick to touch. I was smiling, because it was pretty poor, but I was also happy that I made the kick! I am pretty hard on myself so I can appreciate the situation.
There are plenty of big men all over the world who I have played against and who I would classify as tough opponents! In terms of a direct opponent, it has to be Dan Carter. You rarely see him have a bad game and his management of the team is first class. He might miss a couple of kicks every now and then but then he creates scoring opportunities all the time. He is a great player and has set the bar for how fly-halves should play almost a decade.
Most memorable game?
You always remember the first time you represent your country. Playing for England is the pinnacle for any English rugby player. It’s a very big honour to play for your country and I loved every minute of my time with the national team. My first cap was against Italy in Twickenham in 2005.
My most memorable club game was the 2001 Heineken Cup final. I was playing for Leicester Tigers and we played Stade Francais in Paris. It was the first time Tigers won the Heineken Cup and it was a great game. We won 34-30. That was a very special day.
Outline of mental strength for kicking?
All best kickers in the world have their own consistent routine. Kickers need the same mental preparation during a kick no matter if it is the easiest kick in the world or a difficult last minute potential game winning kick. If you are consistent in what you do, there is less margin of error. This physical and mental routine should be whatever feels comfortable to the individual kicker but it should be rehearsed non-stop at training. Developing this routine is important. There is not much point to placing the ball on the tee at training and just booting it over without thought. This is how bad habits creep in. Going through the same setup for every kick is very important.
I have used the same approach to every single kick for the past 6 or 7 years. I have gone through some ups and downs, where I miss a few kicks or go on a good run, but I always go back to the same routine and mechanics on the training ground. Keep working on the small details, the run up, the approach, the breathing.
Each individual kicker will add his own mental cues as well. Some will follow an imaginary line to the goalposts and some will focus more on the ball. It is a personal thing.
No matter if it is the first kick of the game, or the last kick of the game, and regardless of whether you have missed a lot of kicks beforehand, you must treat each kick individually and on its own merits. Clear everything out of your mind, focus on the routine and be confident!
Where do you see US rugby? Potential?
US sport is generally right near or at the top of producing world-class athletes. Certainly in terms of the Olympics, USA tends to dominate. With this mindset and history of success in sports, there is no reason why this focus can’t shift towards rugby. There has also got to be a lot of potential for American football players to get involved in rugby. Obviously, American football was created out of rugby and you can still notice a lot of similarities in the two sports. If rugby concentrates on all the college sports stars who don’t make it into the professional sporting world, they would have a vast array of quality athletes who could potentially adapt their skills to rugby.
It will take time, but it is very possible. Soccer seems to have grown well there since the World Cup in 1994 and the US national soccer team seem to be getting stronger all the time. I think rugby can learn from the soccer model.
I think developing the rugby culture is the challenge and trying to get the game into as many schools as possible.
Andy Goode Player Profile
Andy Goode came up through the Youth team system at Leicester Tigers and enjoyed 10 years of success as part of a squad that won multiple league and European titles.
Valued for his tactical understanding of the game and goal kicking consistency under pressure his services were exported to French Top 14 side Brive in 2008 where his good form saw him top the scoring statistics.
For someone of his achievements at club level, Goode’s England career has been limited. He played at U18 and U21 level while part of the Leicester youth set-up, and his performances for club and at England A eventually led to him making his full debut for the Senior team against Italy in the Six Nations in 2005. Despite still excelling at club level, he was unable to secure a regular place in the England team and last featured in 2009 against Argentina.
Known as a committed player, he tested himself in Super Rugby with the Sharks after his time in France, and notably was yellow carded in the first 5 minutes of his debut for a high tackle on Crusaders and All Black fly-half Dan Carter.
He returned to the English Premiership with Worcester and is currently ripping it up with London Wasps.
Andy Goode Test Career Statistics
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