It’s maybe one of the most common questions posed by people who don’t watch a huge amount of rugby, or who rather don’t have a nuanced understanding of the game: ‘Why are you always kicking the ball away?’ Former Wales captain Sam Warburton took on the age-old refrain while doing punditry work for Wales versus Georgia.

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“People say to me regularly, why do we kick the ball all the time? Why are we kicking the ball?

“Straight away I think ‘You haven’t played international rugby then’ because you can not run yourself out of trouble for 80 minutes,” said Warburton.

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Wayne Pivac reacts to Wales’ win over Georgia:

“You’ll run yourself down a blind alley, a dark alley, and you’ll be in trouble. You have to kick, because kicking on to an opposition team, you can gain 50 or 60 metres of territory, you put the ball in their court, and if you’ve got a defence as good as England, you put a massive amount of pressure on from your defence and it can often cause a knock-on.

“That means that 50 yard kick and good kick chase, you’ve got the ball back 50 to 60 yards later.

“Or you could try and run your ball out from your try line, 20 phases, and progress there,” Warburton pointed out sarcastically. “A good kick chase is much more efficient, so that’s why [international teams kick so much].”

Co-pundit Scott Quinnell chimed in, giving the dominant All Blacks teams of the last ten years as an example. “It is so funny, as well, that New Zealand, who have been the No.1 side in the world, for about 150 years; that during 2011 to 2015, when they won back to back World Cups, I think they played with about 30 per cent possession.

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“They kicked a huge amount away, but what they were very good at was turnover and counter-attack. [They were] absolutely superb.”

Warburton has turned his hand to punditry after being forced to retire in 2018. While he was often been teased during his playing career for being conservative with the media and to put it more bluntly – being boring – he is fast developing into an engaging pundit.

 

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