Rugby World Cup 2011 The Breakdown on the quarter-finals
Three o michael kors outlet okc f the last-eight ties appear a direct contrast in styles, while even the Celtic contest could be a meeting of opposites
Share Tweet this Email France's head coach Marc Li?vremont. Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images CRUNCH TIME
The World Cup reaches a fork in the road this weekend: it can take the 2007 route, tackle, kick, chase and boot three-pointers, or it can adopt a liberal dynamic and run the conservatives out.
On one extreme, the semi-finals could pitch South Africa against Argentina and England against Ireland (no slight intended on the Irish, they are just not as gung-ho as Wales); on the other, New Zealand could take on Australia and France could run into Wales.
Three of the quarter-finals appear a direct contrast in styles: Argentina's might against New Ze michael kors outlet okc aland's width; England's calm deliberation will cross French excitability and volatility; and South Africa, masters of knock-out rugby, may let Australia take the risks.
Even the fourth, Wales's Celtic contest with Ireland, may turn out to be a meeting of opposites if the Irish decide to do what they did to Australia, muscling their way to victory by keeping the michael kors outlet okc ball off the floor and preventing the Welsh from exploiting their pace out wide.
The South Africa forwards coach Gary Gold was saying that experience counts for a considerable amount in knock-out rugby. That would point to a repeat of the 2007 final between the Springboks michael kors outlet okc and England, the day rugby union went into a coma as they would have it here, but the game has m michael kors outlet okc oved on and South Africa are not as fixated on risk-aversion today as they were then.
There are four players whose influence will be particularly crucial this weekend: Richie McCaw, Heinrich Brussow, David Pocock and Sam Warburton. Coaches before every match focus on the breakdown as a key area because of the opportunity it provides to attack a disorganised defence.
The quartet are the most effective open-sides in the tournament at forcing turnovers, using the change in the way the interpretation of the rules at the breakdown were tweaked in 2009 after the abortive attempt to encourage an open game by penalising the attacking team for even minor misdemeanours after a tackle.
The four are what has become termed fetchers, breakaways who quickly arrive at a breakdown and steal the ball. Pace has always been a key part of an open-side's armoury, but the position is now about timing as much as technique, about speed of thought as well as michael kors outlet okc speed of foot.
None of them attempt to contest every breakdown. They do not waste their time with lost michael kors outlet okc causes. They wait for the right moment, and while McCaw has throughout his career tested the tolerance threshold of referees at the breakdown, he has modified his game now that he cannot get away with grappling for the ball for half a second or so after a referee has called ruck.
In one sense, it is like a hunter chasing