The Top 10 Place Kickers in the History of Rugby

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistOctober 13, 2013

The Top 10 Place Kickers in the History of Rugby

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    The art of kicking takes on numerous forms in rugby, but it's the place kick that's the purest, most methodical practice in the sport.

    There's something awfully simple about striking a ball from the tee and between the uprights, and yet very seldom is the task mastered.

    Through the decades, rugby has heralded some accurate kickers capable of adding those essential finishing touches for their sides, the best of whom are chronicled ahead.

    Regardless of how fine the other aspects of their game are or were, all 10 of the following stars can at least rely upon their kicking from tee as a reliable component in their game.

10. Percy Montgomery

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    One of the greatest full-backs to have worn the South African jersey, Percy Montgomery's kicking was the cornerstone quality of a long and illustrious international career.

    The former Springbok made more than 100 appearances for his nation, falling just shy of the 100-point mark in that time.

    Noted as much for having one of the biggest punts in the sport as much as he was for his accuracy, Montgomery's feet were arguably his best tools, despite the South African showing a knack for tries, too. He scored 25 times in his international tenure.

9. Leigh Halfpenny

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    Not quite in the game long enough to eclipse some of the older statesmen of the list, Leigh Halfpenny has to settle for the relatively low spot of ninth, although it's likely he'll ascend as the years go on.

    Already the highest scorer on a single Lions tour, the Welsh wonder has emerged as something of a jack-of-all-trades in recent years, with his kicking being one of his most notable assets.

    What sets him aside from the rest in that respect is his distance. He is able to size up kicks from within his own half, whereas other kickers may not.

8. Chris Paterson

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    One might argue that Scotland wouldn't be the same force that they are were it not for Chris Paterson's help in developing the Minnows as a rugby power once more over the last decade or so.

    The now retired full-back/fly-half is the greatest presence that Scotland has ever had from the tee. He scored more than 800 points in 109 capped matches for his nation.

    Paterson will go down in Edinburgh and Scotland history as one of the most consistent and versatile backs to have donned the navy blue. His contributions from the boot went a long, long way in the grand scheme of their advancement. 

7. Ronan O’Gara

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    Sometimes lacking the consistency needed to finish higher on this list, Ronan O'Gara nevertheless registered more than 1,000 points as an international player with only 16 tries scored in that space of time.

    One of the most capped players of all time, O'Gara's 130 appearances in the green of Ireland have featured some kicking masterclasses. He often edged the European giants closer to their goals, both literally and figuratively.

    Now Jonny Sexton's kicking coach at Racing Metro, the former Munster stalwart is easily the best place kicker that Ireland has ever produced, although it's not difficult to find some of the fly-half's worse performances.

6. Diego Dominguez

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    The fifth-highest international points scorer of all time, Diego Dominguez has contributed the most of any candidate on this list in terms of his nation's strength and the strength of those around him.

    In 74 caps for Italy, as well as two for Argentina, he scored more than 1,000 points, slotting over more than 200 penalties and 133 conversions.

    Whether from long or short range, the right-footed kicker showed that, after Hugo Porta, Argentina had produced a prolific scorer from the tee and one who was perhaps missed following his defection to the Azzurri.

5. Morne Steyn

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    Time and again in recent years, Morne Steyn has shown just why he might be the best place kicker on the plant right now. He has eased over countless difficult efforts thrown out toward the touchline.

    A throwback to the old-fashioned fly-half if ever there was one, the South African opts for a more conservative approach in his play. He is far from the most direct of No. 10s, allowing his boot to do most of the talking.

    Still just 29 years of age, the 51-times capped Springbok could go on to accomplish great things with both Stade Francais and his international side.

4. Jonny Wilkinson

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    While he may be more famed for his drop goal exploits than anything else, Jonny Wilkinson's kicking from the tee is still some of the best that's ever been seen.

    He is the man who inspired a generation with his unique technique. Wilkinson's 1,246 points for the English national side are just a sample of the veteran's massive talent when it comes to matters between him, a ball and the goal posts.

    Taking into account his matches with England, Toulon and Newcastle Falcons, Wilkinson has scored no less than 4,300 points in his career. This is a remarkable feat, considering he's only ever crossed the whitewash seven times for England and was never the biggest fan of running at defence.

3. Andrew Mehrtens

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    A journeyman fly-half of both hemispheres, Andrew Mehrtens' credentials in France, England and New Zealand are of a calibre seldom reached in rugby.

    The 40-year-old helped Toulon and Racing Metro out of France's Top D2 and on the road to their currently massive statuses, as well as furthered the progress of Harlequins. He scored more than 850 points for the three clubs combined.

    On top of that, he scored another 2,000 for Canterbury and New Zealand combined—a vast amount of which wouldn't have come about were it not for his kicking talents.

    The South Africa-born All Black once held the record as New Zealand's highest-ever points scorer, a record that's since been passed by a certain other fly-half.

2. Neil Jenkins

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    While far from the best fly-half there's ever been, few would argue against Neil Jenkins' value from the tee alone.

    The greatest kicker of a rugby ball that the Northern Hemisphere has ever produced, this summer saw Jenkins travel with the British and Irish Lions as kicking coach, giving compatriot Leigh Halfpenny all the necessary advice to become the highest-ever scorer on a single tour.

    Jenkins' 1,090 points for Wales and two Lions tours make him the third-highest international points scorer of all time, which is all the more impressive considering he was at the forefront of the Welsh game when the nation was nowhere near as strong as it is now.

1. Dan Carter

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    If anyone is a testament to the notion that practice makes perfect, it's Southbridge-born Dan Carter, who is still going strong at the age of 31. He has already etched a place as the highest-ever points scorer in international rugby.

    It's always difficult crediting current players as the finest of their trade, as we seem to develop a fondness for valuing nostalgia and history above all else sometimes.

    That being said, Carter's 1,411 points for the All Blacks and counting are enough to set the fly-half apart from the rest of the field.

    Able to strike the ball with either boot whether it's from an angle or great distance, Carter has come through for New Zealand numerous times over the last decade.

    Another 1,500 points coming from his Crusaders career, consistency has been key for a man at the head of his trade.