Steve Hansen at all times has a listing of what‑ifs. It’s a behavior he picked up from Graham Henry after the All Blacks had been undone by a ahead cross in opposition to France within the 2007 quarter-finals. This yr there’s one worst‑case situation to which they’ve been paying additional consideration: the tie-break. The very last thing they need is to finish up in the identical place their cricket workforce did within the different World Cup, after they misplaced on boundary countback. “We don’t must bowl a brilliant over,” mentioned Sam Whitelock, “however we’ll make sure that we all know all of the totally different processes and protocols and guidelines of what probably can occur if it’s a draw.”
Simply so everybody is aware of: they play 20 minutes of extra-time, 10 minutes every method, after which, if the scores are degree, one other 10 minutes of sudden demise. After that, it goes to a kicking contest. Every workforce nominates 5 kickers from the gamers nonetheless on the sphere, and so they all take a shot at purpose from one in every of three mounted spots on the 22-metre line: left, centre, proper, then left and centre once more. If the groups nonetheless can’t be break up, the kicks are repeated, solely this time it’s sudden demise. Hey, it’s higher than the rule they used to make use of, which was the groups’ disciplinary document within the pool stage.
“We all know these are the foundations so, sure, you’d be silly in case you hadn’t ready for it,” Hansen mentioned. “However I might be extremely stunned if after 80 minutes then 10 minutes every method, then sudden-death extra-time, by which period there’ll be bugger all individuals left standing, if somebody hasn’t scored some factors. However funnier issues have occurred, eh?” He’s proper. The cricketers weren’t precisely anticipating a tied tremendous over both.
There have been three drawn knockout video games within the historical past of the World Cup: the 1995 last between New Zealand and South Africa, the 2003 last between England and Australia, and the 1999 semi-final between Australia and South Africa. All of them ended inside extra-time.
However it isn’t solely unprecedented. A semi-final within the 2009 Heineken Cup was selected a sudden-death kicking contest. It was settled when Cardiff’s Martyn Williams missed. He admitted later that he had solely put himself ahead as a result of whereas he had carried out a little bit of goalkicking when he was a child, he’d by no means taken a shot off a correct tee earlier than. Whitelock is glad they’ve modified the foundations since, in order that the primary 5 kickers strive once more if the competition goes to sudden demise. “I’m concerning the final man who must be taking one.”
England’s Jos Buttler runs out New Zealand’s Martin Guptill through the tremendous over to win the World Cup. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian
Whitelock’s fellow lock Scott Barrett, alternatively, reckoned he may need a go “relying on accidents”. There can be “a couple of backs up first”, Barrett mentioned, “but when we had been quick, out of the forwards I’d undoubtedly again myself”. And whereas it was all fairly lighthearted, he was not joking. It sounds just like the All Blacks actually have been practising for this. It’s all a part of their meticulous preparation. Hansen says there’s lots else he has been rehearsing too, however he was not going to let on precisely what.
“You’ll be naive as a coach to not count on the opposition to do one thing totally different, that’s their job,” he mentioned. “It’s our job to do one thing totally different that England haven’t seen. You practise it and also you implement it. If it really works you’re a famous person and if it doesn’t you’re an fool. It’s a advantageous line we reside, us coaches.” They’d had a hitch that morning, when Kieran Learn missed coaching as a result of he had a good calf, however Hansen is “100% assured” he shall be match to play on Saturday. They’ll go with out the flanker Matt Todd, although, who remains to be recovering from a shoulder damage.
In contrast to Eddie Jones, Hansen was not within the temper to begin winding up the opposite facet, but. However he did enable himself one little dig when he was requested concerning the rivalry between their groups. “I feel we’ve performed England as soon as within the final six years, so it’s onerous to construct a rivalry after we don’t play one another. If we may get the Six Nations to return on board with a worldwide season we’d be capable to try this however then they’d have to begin fascinated about the sport reasonably than themselves,” he mentioned. “There, there’s a headline for you.” There are going to be lots extra of these within the subsequent few days.