Former Springbok flyhalf Joel Stransky has explained how coach Kitch Christie ‘planted the seed’ that led to him kicking the winning drop goal in the 1995 World Cup final.
Stransky joined 1995 Springbok teammates Francois Pienaar and Os du Rands together with team manager Morne du Plessis to talk with historian Dr Dean Allen as part of the 25th anniversary celebration of the 1995 RWC final – which took place on 24 June.
During the conversation, the topic of Stranksy slotting the winning drop goal in extra time of the final inevitably came up. Stransky explained that late coach Christie planted the thought of the drop goal in his head during the week leading up to the final.
‘The Thursday before the final, I went up to do some kicking with the forwards and coach said to me, “Why don’t you kick more drop goals? You made it sound so easy. All you have to do is drop the ball and kick it over the poles,”‘ Stransky explained.
‘What he did was to plant a seed. The next day I went to Ellis Park a little bit earlier and kicked probably around 100 before training and 100 after training. That was everything he instilled in us, that there are no excuses, you work hard and if you put the effort in, the dividends will come.’
Stransky added that he decided to change the play that led to the drop goal after seeing that the All Blacks had done their homework on their attacking plays from set pieces.
‘A lot of what you do is instinctive. We were a really well-drilled side. We had some great plays, we had some great set-phases and used them through the tournament. There was no doubt that this game became cat-and-mouse. It was clear to all of us that it would be a very narrow game. The difference was going to be three points – or less if a try was scored. We knew we had to take every point on offer and couldn’t miss a tackle because this great All Blacks side would punish us.
‘I think we got it right and near the end, at 12-12, Francois called a back-row move. I looked up while Joost was putting the ball in the scrum and could see that the All Blacks had done their homework. They had prepared and knew exactly which move we were thinking of doing. From the way their defensive line was set up, I could see there was a big gap for me to step into the pocket and make the kick. I called to Joost and changed the move. Fortunately, it went over because I don’t think Francois was one of those captains who liked to be contradicted.
‘What I loved about this team is that we all took ownership and were all captains of our positions. When we saw something was on, we had the courage to go through with it.’
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