New Zealand preparing for kicking competition if they draw semi against England – after Cricket World Cup final chaos – The Sun
22nd October 2019

IT did feel like an impertinent question to ask inside the World Cup headquarters of the mighty All Blacks.

But what if, like the last great sporting meeting between England and New Zealand, Saturday’s semi-final ends up a tie?

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen has admitted that stranger things have happened.

Little in sporting history has been stranger — or more thrilling — than England’s Cricket World Cup final victory over the Black Caps at Lord’s.

The contest was tied after 50 overs, tied after a Super Over and controversially won by the hosts because they had scored more boundaries — a nonsensical rule that has since been scrapped, further fuelling a Kiwi sense of injustice.

Hansen insists he has prepared his team for the possibility of a kicking competition, rugby’s answer to the Super Over.

This would settle the semi-final if it is tied after 20 minutes of normal extra-time and ten minutes of sudden-death.

And despite New Zealand’s status as back-to-back world champions, the form book suggests a close contest is likely in Yokohama on Saturday.

The All Blacks beat England by just a single point at Twickenham last November, while the British & Irish Lions drew the final Test, and the series, in New Zealand in 2017.

Asked about the prospect of a kicking competition, Hansen said: “It’s unlikely that it will be decided that way. But have we prepared for that? We know those are the rules. So, yes.

“You’d be foolish if you hadn’t prepared for it but I would be highly surprised if after 80 minutes then ten minutes each way, then sudden-death extra-time, by which time there will be b***er all people standing. But funnier things have happened, eh?

“And I don’t know if they got the rules right in the cricket one really.”

Kicking competitions are rare in rugby, with five players from either team required to kick from three different positions on the 22-metre line.

But Leicester defeated Cardiff on that basis in the 2009 Heineken Cup final — an event All Blacks Sam Whitelock was intending to watch on YouTube last night.

The second row admits he was gripped by the cricket drama at Lord’s in July — when a man-of-the-match innings from Ben Stokes helped England come back from the brink of defeat.

Whitelock said: “I did watch the cricket final. I can’t say I thought about it this week until you brought it up but it was a pretty amazing game.

“Obviously we weren’t the happiest with the result but I saw a few of our cricket boys afterwards and they were excited about how close they got and they know that, hopefully, when New Zealand do get to win that cricket World Cup that they have really set up the generations to  follow them.

“It was quite humbling to talk to them, how their mindset was after a very close loss.

“We don’t have to bowl a Super Over but we’ll make sure we know all the different processes and rules of what can happen if it’s a draw.”England say they are going to 'give it everything' when they take on the All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup semi-final

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