All Blacks ready for anything if semifinal goes to shootout
TOKYO (AP) — The inevitable question of the tiebreaker was posed to New Zealand coach Steve Hansen ahead of the Rugby World Cup semifinal against England.
The two countries met in a contentious Cricket World Cup final in July that went to England on an unprecedented and quirky countback regulation after the game and a so-called Super Over were tied.
If the Rugby World Cup knockout games are tied after extra-time, followed by sudden-death extra-time — or first scorer wins — then outcomes will be decided by a place kicking shootout.
“Have we prepared for that? We know those are the rules, so yes,” Hansen said. “You’d be foolish if you hadn’t prepared for it, but I would be highly surprised if after 80 minutes, then 10 minutes each way (extra time), then sudden-death extra-time … that someone hasn’t scored some points. But funnier things have happened.
“I don’t know if they got the cricket one right really.”
The New Zealand cricket team won a lot of praise from fans of the game around the world for the way they reacted to the heartbreaking outcome, despite taking more wickets than England in the regulation overs. The International Cricket Council has subsequently scrapped the boundary countback tiebreaker for future tournaments.
All Rugby World Cup matches to date have been decided within normal or extra-time, but there’s provision for a shootout that would involve five players from each team taking place kicks.
Under the rules, a coin toss would be made and the winner would decide which team kicks first, or from which end of the field the kicks are taken.
The five kickers from each team must be on the playing field at the end of the extra, extra-time period to be eligible for the shootout, which would be taken in a sequence from three positions on the quarter-line — in front of goals, and from 15-meters in from the touchline on the left and right sides.
New Zealand had the best goalkicking percentage in the group stage with 84 percent accuracy, although with 23-man squads the calculations on who takes the kicks could get complicated. Veteran lock Sam Whitelook wasn’t really aware of the rules when he was asked Tuesday, but fellow second-rower Scott Barrett reckoned he would be a good choice if one of the All Blacks forwards was required to step up to the tee.
“Depending on injuries. … I’m sure there’d be a few backs first,” he said. “We’d have to be quite short (of options). Out of the forwards, I’d definitely back myself, sure.”
He wouldn’t even be the first option in his family, if a place kicker was needed.
There were three Barrett brothers in the All Blacks’ 23-man squad for the quarterfinal win over Ireland last weekend. Beauden Barrett is usually a flyhalf but is playing fullback for New Zealand, and Jordie Barrett is a utility back. Both are regular goalkickers.
Scott and Beauden Barrett are roommates this week — for the first time since 2002, apparently — so if there’s any kicking advice required, it’ll come from close to home.
“It’s quite nice to have a key driver of our game to be rooming with and chat about stuff to prepare for this game,” Scott Barrett said.