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Wales Kickers Visit Chicago Bears Sessions

Thursday Jun 4, 2009 in Elite Level Rugby Other International News

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June 4, 2009 - Former world record points scorer and current national squad backs coach Neil Jenkins and two of Wales’ top kickers Nicky Robinson and Dan Bigger were invited by one of their sponsors, Under Armour, to attend a Chicago Bears pre-season training sessions this week.

“The two sports have plenty in common in the sense that the ball is the same shape and we are looking to achieve similar aims when we kick it, but there is also a great deal of difference between what is required of each of the kickers,” said Robinson. “We both use spiral kicks for example to achieve distance and clear our lines and the conversion kicking drills are similar, but the big difference for me is that kicking is very specialist in the American game and those players don’t have to stay on the pitch and tackle the big forwards like we do in between the kicks.”

Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould and punt specialist Brad Maynard were the two players most interested in the kicking side of the game in rugby union.

“We have all kinds of different kicks we use during a game, the high hopper, the squib kick which is harder for the opposition to collect, you are basically trying to make the opposition drop the ball,” said Gould. “Or we have the chop kick or the one where you just smash the ball into the ground or try to disrupt the timing of the opposition pod by just varying what you do with the ball. We have the new trend for end over end kicking which is supposed to give you more accuracy to you distance kicks, but I tend to stick to the spiral myself.”

Once the players got used to the different terms used in the two sports, they all soon found they were on common ground and also talked about the kind of footwear they prefer, with many of the Wales players trying out the new Under Armour boot.

“It’s been a great honour for us to come here, a real learning experience for both the coaches and the players and we hope to do much more of this kind of thing and with Under Armour so keen on improving the partnerships across the different countries in which they are involved there should be more to come,” added Jenkins. “This really is a very professionally run outfit and it gives you an insight into the kind of standards we must constantly be trying to reach in order to keep ourselves right at the very top of our own game.”

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