the study of the kicking components within sports

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Rugby World Cup 2011 - Quarter Finals Sunday

Sunday's pair of quarter final matches in the Rugby World Cup 2011 features four teams all from south of the equator - the defending champs South Africa v. Australia, and the host nation New Zealand v. Argentina.

As always, we focus on the players who will be handling the kicking.

South Africa - Morné Steyn
Steyn, who has been successful with 13 out of 15 kicks at goal to be well clear of other kickers at the World Cup, said he did not understand the fuss over the balls. "For me it is the same ball that we always use," he said at a press conference in the capital yesterday. "Before the tournament the guys from Gilbert came and showed us the ball to be used at the World Cup and it was no different to the one we use in Super rugby. The only difference is that it had different writing and patterns on it but the actual ball is the same. "So to me there is no difference," the usually reserved Steyn said before adding: "If it is not going well with your goal-kicking you always look for something to blame, but for me you can't blame the ball at this World Cup." That, in a nutshell, is that debate kicked sweetly into touch by the world's premier goal-kicker.
Steyn, looking ahead to Sunday's quarter-final clash with Australia at the Wellington Regional Stadium, said he would be hard pressed to continue his immaculate kicking form - but not because of the ball. "Wellington is the hardest place in the world for kickers," he said. "It has this strange swirling wind that does funny things with the ball. I am [crossing ingers] that for once we have a calm, clear day. I can't recall too many of them at this stadium." Steyn might be in luck. While rain has been falling steadily since Sunday, better weather is expected for the weekend.
Australia - James O'Connor
From the Independent:
Winning rugby’s greatest prize for an unprecedented third time remains the ultimate focus for both Australia and South Africa –– and goal-kicking at the business end of the tournament once again looms as key to lifting the Webb Ellis Cup. O’Connor rediscovered his goal-kicking mojo with a nine-from-10 return in Australia’s 68-22 dispatch of Russia in Nelson last Saturday but will be lining up shots under extreme pressure of a very different kind at the Cake Tin.
Ironically heading into the cut-throat clash with the Boks, O’Connor credited his South African kicking coach Braam Van Straaten with helping him rediscover his rhythm. “I was pretty happy with my outcome,” O’Connor said. “I did a lot of work during the week with Braam and the process is going well.”
Argentina - Felipe Contepomi & Martín Rodríguez
From the Khaleej Times:
Argentina are first and foremost looking for a performance they can be proud of when they meet New Zealand in the rugby World Cup quarter-finals this weekend, captain Felipe Contepomi said. The Pumas finished third at the last World Cup and, having never beaten New Zealand, are rank outsiders to break the All Blacks’ 17-year unbeaten run at Eden Park on Sunday. Felipe Contepomi, who needs just five points on Sunday to overtake Puma great Hugo Porta as Argentina’s all-time leading points scorer, said they would need to play the “perfect game” and enjoy more than a little luck. “We are playing against the best team in the world,” the 34-year-old said. “We have been growing match-by-match and we hope to put up a performance we can be proud of and if that leads to a win then so much better. If both teams play at 100 percent then the odds will be against us but it is sport and anything can happen in that 80 minutes.”
New Zealand - Colin Slade & Piri Weepu
From 3news:
The full glare of New Zealand's intense rugby spotlight has been on Slade since last Sunday, when the nation was shocked by the news that Dan Carter was out of the tournament after a tendon tear in his groin. Without the world's best flyhalf and the all-time highest scorer in test rugby, the tournament hosts took a major hit to their confidence in trying to end a 24-year World Cup drought. Few were fully convinced Slade was still the ideal replacement when, hours later, he gave a solid performance in the pivotal position in the 79-15 pool win over Canada. Even scrumhalf Piri Weepu, who shared the kicking duties with Slade against Canada, admitted he bought into the speculation that he might be played at flyhalf against the Pumas.
Slade said he's avoided newspapers and TV this week while his countrymen have debated his merits and otherwise. "It's an opportunity I've got to think positively about," Slade said on Friday. "I can't be burdened by (replacing Carter) because at the end of the day I've got to be excited about it. "It's what every young fellow dreams of I suppose, to play in a World Cup, albeit through the disappointment of DC's injury.
Even though coach Graham Henry declined to say who between Slade and Weepu would replace Carter as goalkicker, Slade said he was making the usual preparations to be the kicker.

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