He proved the internet sensation of the last World Cup, courtesy of the distinctive goal-kicking style that some chose to set to a dance routine online and acclaim as The Biggarena.
Dan Biggar has since toned down his famously fidgety preparation.
It hasn’t blunted his accuracy, with the 73-cap player boasting an 88 percent success rate as a Test goal-kicker during his 11-year career in international rugby.
Some of the unusual mannerisms as he takes aim are still there, though, prompting the Australian version of Fox Sports, in a piece on ‘gun kickers’ who are likely to decide the coming World Cup, to compare him with the cricketing superstar who has been tormenting England in the Ashes this summer.
Steve Smith has piled up more than 500 runs so far in the series, all scored with a flurry of quirks and tics, 23 of them before he faces a ball, according to one newspaper.
Biggar isn’t that bad. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
But Fox Sports reckon he will be the focus of major interest again in the coming tournament.
Putting him at the top of their list of gun kickers, they say: “The 29-year-old attracted plenty of attention at the 2015 World Cup with his unusual, distinctive goal-kicking ritual, one that Steve Smith and Rafa Nadal would be proud of.
“He tops our list with an outstanding 88% Test return — five percentage points clear of the next best.
“Biggar was set to play second fiddle behind Gareth Anscombe in Japan but is now back in the No 10 jersey after Anscombe’s unfortunate injury.”
It wasn’t just Biggar’s idiosyncratic goal-kicking style that drew attention his way during the 2015 World Cup.
He also confirmed himself as having the nerveless disposition of a fighter pilot and the deadly accuracy of an SAS sniper, with his performance against England, when he nailed seven shots at the sticks from as many attempts, one of the great goalkicking displays.
There was a time when he found it hard to keep his emotions in check on the field.
But even early in this career, after being booed continually by a section of the crowd during a match at the Dragons, he told this writer: “I never want to lose the passion with which I play the game.
“I am someone who likes to be at the heart of things and I like to organise and put my stamp on a match. That’s the only way I know how to play.”
A month shy of his 30th birthday, he has matured but he still has that burning will to win and unbreakable mental toughness.
It was evidenced recently after he came in from criticism from JJ Williams.
Some players would have been badly stung by the comments.
Biggar went out and produced a man-of-the-match display against England.
His coach at Northampton Saints, Chris Boyd, told the RugbyPass website: “If you need someone to stay on task, to make sure they keep their nerve to run a game down, or close a game out in knockout rugby, there is no better player in the world.
“He’s mentally as tough as hell.”
For the avoidance of doubt, that is some compliment from Boyd, who worked with Beauden Barrett at the Hurricanes before decamping to England.
“He gets a bit emotional on the pitch, but that’s his nature. He demands such high standards,” said the New Zealander.
“I have often said I’d hate to see an argument between him and TJ Perenara. They are two of the most blood-minded people I’ve ever worked with. If you want to go into battle with anyone, it’s Dan Biggar.
“He’s an absolute trooper.
“I don’t know how Wales are intending to play the game out in Japan but it will be a mistake to play a different game to what he is capable of doing.
“Don’t forget the bloody-mindedness he brings has made Wales pretty successful over the last four or five years.”
Before he started working with Biggar, Boyd wondered whether the Welshman’s ultra-competitiveness might be to the determinant of the team.
But it proved nothing of the sort.
“When you get those determined individuals, you do wonder, but, I’ve found, like TJ he’s a great team man,” said Boyd.
“He bought into a bigger concept than ‘Dan Biggar’ and that’s great. He’s just a really, really good human being.”
How Biggar’s new tee was actually made
The kicking tee was produced by Professor David Marshall, an expert in computer vision from the University’s School of Computer Science and Informatics, and Dr Peter Theobald, who specialises in the development of technologies to reduce injury and mortality and is based at the University’s School of Engineering.
Alongside a Cardiff University PhD student, David Williams, Professor Marshall used a 3D scanner to take multiple images of Dan’s kicking tee from various angles.
Using computer software, the images were then cleaned up and stitched together to form a complete 3D computerised representation of the kicking tee.
This image was then sent to Dr Theobald who, along with his PhD student Benjamin Hanna, was able to produce a replica of the kicking tee using a 3D printer.
A 3D printer works by building an object from the bottom up, laying down layers of material in a highly organised and mechanical way until the final object is created. As a result of this layering process and the lack of human control needed, a 3D printer is able to produce highly complex structures.
The kicking tee was made from a filament-based thermoplastic polyurethane material called ‘Ninjaflex’ and took over 40 hours to fully print.
The project came about through Professor Marshall’s existing involvement with Rhodri Bown, the WRU’s Head of Performance Analysis, who he works closely with on match video analysis software.
This content was originally published here.