the study of the kicking components within sports

Friday, October 7, 2011

Rugby World Cup 2011 - Quarter Finals Saturday

Saturday's two quarterfinal fixtures in the Rugby World Cup feature a pair of matches between European neighbors - Ireland v. Wales and England v. France. 

As is oft mentioned, kicking plays an increasingly important role as the tournament progresses. All of the kickers have been a topic of discussion the last few days for various reasons...

Ireland - Ronan O'Gara
From the Irish Examiner:
Gordon D’Arcy is expecting Wales to target Ronan O’Gara again in Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final but the centre believes Ireland can deal with the tactic, just as they did when winning the Grand Slam in 2009. Wales coach Warren Gatland has often sent teams out to try and exploit fly-half O’Gara’s perceived defensive weaknesses, not least when Ireland went to Cardiff two years ago in search of the Slam. O’Gara had the last laugh that day, sending over the drop goal at the Millennium Stadium that delivered an Irish clean sweep for the first time since 1948, and D’Arcy said yesterday that having seen off the Welsh then, they could do it again. "This back-line has played against more or less this Welsh back-linebefore and we’ve come out on top. I don’t think it’s as if we have to go and reinvent the wheel here," the Ireland inside centre said. "Ronan and I have got a very good defensive relationship, we work well, we had a few chats yesterday and had a really, really good session. We know what’s coming, and it’s just up to us to meet it."
Wales - Rhys Priestland
From the Daily Post :
Fly-half Rhys Priestland’s individual battle with Ireland fly-half Ronan O’Gara promises to have a major bearing on which team progresses into a last-four meeting with England or France. And Priestland has total respect for one of Ireland’s finest international players. “O’Gara is probably one of the best kickers of the ball in the game,” he said. I have played against him a few times for the Scarlets against Munster and I have always been impressed with him, just the way he organises the game and organises the forwards. He gives Ireland a lot when he plays. We are going to have to try to manage him and make sure he doesn’t keep putting Ireland in the corners and putting us under pressure. Usually, I’ve been at the wrong end of the result when I have played against him. Hopefully, it will be different this weekend.”...
Priestland will be entrusted with goalkicking duties tomorrow, and he knows drop goals could prove critical, especially if the contest is as tight as most pundits expect. He missed a late drop goal when Wales lost 17-16 to world champions South Africa four weeks ago. “Hopefully, my (drop-goal) record goes from nil in three to one in four,” he added. “Hopefully, if it does come down to a drop-goal, I won’t make such a mess of it.

England - Toby Flood and Jonny Wilkinson
from the Telegraph, by Toby Flood:
My excitement at being asked to start Saturday’s quarter-final against France is matched only by the size of the challenge that I face to make the partnership with Jonny Wilkinson a success. It is a bold decision by England team manager Martin Johnson to start us both. We have not begun a match together since the Six Nations game against Wales in 2010, so it is important that we strike up an instant relationship again. The one big advantage is that we know each other’s games inside out having played together for so long when we were both at Newcastle. With hindsight, we could have played together for 40 minutes against Romania or Georgia but training has gone really well. We have been trying out options and plays and it has been pretty slick.
The decision to play two fly-halves enables us to share the responsibility for kicking when we are in our own half. It is great when you are playing fly-half and you know you can throw the ball to another player who can kick and find the corners as well. We haven’t chatted yet about who will be goal-kicking, but I am sure Jonny will do it. He is the man in charge. If he wants me to do it then fine, but I think he is very comfortable doing it.
France - Dimitri Yachvili and Morgan Parra
from nineMSN:
France coach Marc Lievremont stuck to his guns on Tuesday by retaining converted halfback Morgan Parra at five-eighth for the Rugby World Cup quarter-final against England despite back-to-back losses. Specialist five eighth Francois Trinh-Duc was again relegated to the bench when the controversial Lievremont named his team for the clash at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday. His switching of Clermont halfback Parra to No.10 outside Dimitri Yachvili is sure to remain one of the talking points of the World Cup, especially after France lost to both New Zealand (37-17) and, far more dramatically, Tonga (19-14) in their last two pool matches with Parra in that role. "Despite the great qualities of Francois in that position, I love the possibility of playing Morgan there and his understanding with Dimitri Yachvili," Lievremont told reporters. "Morgan is a competitor. I think he's added a certain dynamism which, although it didn't produce concrete results against New Zealand, I want to stick with."

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