All Blacks ready for Knockout stages of 2019 RWC tournament

With the experiences of past efforts at Rugby World Cups, and a coaching staff who have tasted both defeat and success at them, it makes the All Blacks ready for the Knockout stages of the 2019 tournament.

That is by the awareness and familiarity of players and coaches involved, evidence that shows that New Zealand is more accustomed to the position they are in. A confidence that commentators and observers have noted, as well as in discussions with rugby fans who have traveled far and wide, to witness the side attempt to raise the Webb Ellis Cup for the fourth time.

In saying that, all sides who are now involved in the Rugby World Cup (RWC) quarterfinals, have claimed a supreme place. Their actions have seen them progress. Four teams are seeded highly, which includes the All Blacks. The defending world champions went unbeaten in pool play; although the final match vs Italy was cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis. So the New Zeland team is well placed, when they encounter Ireland in QF two, on Saturday October 19.

Consider the All Blacks ready for the match, better prepared for the task ahead. As much as being ready for the 80 minutes, as well as the atmosphere of ‘knockout rugby’. That is the key stage of the tournament – one that in recent times the All Blacks have been more successful in, while their opponents have less success. The differing fortunes [now] means the three-time RWC winners are in a better position to take advantage of past experiences.

This is now a key factor in how far in the competition, either side may likely proceed.

All Blacks ready for Knockout stages of 2019 tournament

Recent success has been taught over many previous attempts to claim the Webb Ellis Cup. That applies to the coaching staff, and Steve Hansen and scrum coach Mick Cron especially. As part of the unsuccessful 2007 campaign, each has tasted defeat in the knockout stages, which proved that side was not ready.

In 2019, with 12 years under their belts, Hansen, Cron and his current coaching group will base their game plan on preparation. More familiar in fact, as his assistant Ian Foster has only ever known success, as have many of the players. So confidence is high, and the fans in attendance on Saturday can safely bet that the New Zealand team management has done everything in their power, to prepare a team that can perform on the field.

Ensuring they help make this group of All Blacks ready for the challenge ahead.

The game will see Hansen face Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, in both coach’s final periods as head coach. Each will step down, so in fact for coaches and some players like Rory Best [Ireland] and Kieran Read [New Zealand], this could be their last game. That internal pressure is yet another factor in the white-hot pressure pot, which is a World Cup.

Knowing how to relieve that pressure will be a key for either team’s chances. And one team can look back to past experiences, to help them to succeed.

Knowing how to handle the RWC ‘Pressure Pot’

With men competing who have played in three RWC tournaments, as well as less experienced squad members, the balance of the All Blacks has not been questioned. This group also has knockout rugby experience in Super Rugby and Provincial rugby, so it can certainly be seen as a strength.

So for the Kiwi fans who have followed their team, they will know that the ‘pressure pot’ is a place that the players are familiar with. It should not be a foreign position for team members. Under pressure, needing to produce a result, and the plans and processes needed to reach their objective.

The same applies to Ireland. And indeed, players who performed in European Club competition, can rely on their past experiences. Joe Schmidt told reporters that he would want his players to “you’ve got to go out, and put your best foot forward.”

Yet at the World Cup, where the Irish have never made it past the quarterfinals stages, is a tougher test. And it will be a bigger ask for them, than it quite possibly will be, for their opponents.

In reality, those facts make the All Blacks ready and able to meet the challenge.

A contributing factor to the game intensity that the sides can play at, may be seen below. Total minutes played (to date) by players from each side, does illustrate how much more rugby the Irish have had to sustain.

Exhaustion in the modern game is not as demonstrable, as it was in the past. Yet for the Irish forwards, how much rugby they have played already, may see their legs feel less energetic than their All Blacks opposition. How much is ‘left in the tank’ will contribute to that team’s success.

So when analyzing the facts, experience and confidence, as well as preparation and fitness, are all going to contribute to the RWC quarterfinal outcome. Each team will manage those factors in different ways. But, for the All Blacks, knowing the conditions of the knockout stages, and being ready to meet them, should ensure that this 2019 team are in a good position to extend their unbeaten run in World Cup matches to 18 matches – still on a path to the semifinals, and possibly further.

 

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