Rugby World CupCaptain's Run

‘He is all good’ - Mike Catt insists Mack Hansen running freely despite heavy strapping

Ireland prepared for possible golden point or goalkicking competition if All Blacks clash ends in draw

The Irish attack coach Mike Catt believes that the mechanism of deciding one of the quarterfinals through a golden point in an additional 10 minutes will reduce the risk of a tie being decided by the somewhat farcical method of a goal-kicking competition.

In a tweak to the laws in the event of tied games, should two sides finish level after 80 minutes in the knock-out stages of this Rugby World Cup, they will play two periods of 10 minutes’ extra-time apiece. If still level after extra time, there would be an additional 10 minutes in which the first team to register a score of any kind – ie a golden point – would be the winners.

Only if two sides were still level would the tie then be decided by a goal-kicking competition, initially featuring three nominated kickers from five positions to the left, middle and right of the posts.

“We have spoken about it,” said Catt. “The players know who they are. Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Beirne,” he added, laughing. “They’ve definitely put in an extra couple of hours!


“No, it’s one of those, players are aware of it but it’s a long way to get to that situation. You’d like to think with the golden point now, compared to what it was in the past, that with extra-time then golden point that, in that 10 minutes, one side would take their opportunity.

“The players who are on the pitch will know who they are and fingers crossed we put them through the middle.”

Mack Hansen appeared to be running freely, albeit with his right calf heavily strapped due to the injury which forced his withdrawal before half-time in last Saturday’s pool win over Scotland and prevented him from training on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Yep, everybody is fit. Mack was looking as sprightly as ever,” said Catt, and as for the heaving strapping, he maintained: “He is all good, running freely.”

Encouragingly, should Ireland go where no Irish team has gone before and reach the semi-finals, it would seem that James Ryan and Robbie Henshaw would be back in the mix given they took part in the eve-of-match captain’s run at the Stade de France.

“They are progressing really nicely and would be available for next week,” said Catt.

After an opening night loss to France, the All Blacks have regrouped with three handsome wins over Namibia, Italy and Uruguay to score the most tries of any team in the pool stages.

“What we’ve seen is the good All Blacks of old, really, exceptionally dangerous ball-in-hand,” said the Irish attack coach. “Joe [Schmidt] has definitely brought a physicality at the breakdown and their ball carrying. Obviously, it was something that Joe was massively passionate about with Ireland as well, especially in the wide breakdowns.

“They put a lot of pressure in those areas, so it’s making sure that we match them physically but being tactically good in the same breath. Across the board they have a hell of a lot of experience, even coming off the bench – you know, Sam Whitelock – these guys that have hundreds of caps really.

“They are very experienced and know exactly what they need to do to win these big occasions. It’s going to be a great test match and we’re looking forward to it.”

Dan Sheehan played down the mental baggage of past quarter-final exits by stressing this was a new Irish team with a new attitude, and discussing the anticipated invasion of tens of thousands of Irish supporters again, said: “We said at the start of the competition we want to go the whole way.

“We think we have the squad to do it. But we can’t look past tomorrow. The pride of being in this squad, it extends further than me, family, friends, the amount of people I have travelling over every week just to see me for two seconds after the game.

“I know they come over for a bit of a party but I think it’s great to bring a bit of enjoyment, a bit of pride to the Irish people. Something I always think about is how many people it touches back home.

Potentially, this could be Johnny Sexton’s final game in an Ireland shirt, or any shirt for that matter.

“Even last week building into Scotland, obviously there was a chance that could be his last ever game,” said Caelan Doris, adding: “He said that to us as a group. What an unbelievable player and leader he has been for Ireland for so many years.

“I think all the players would agree that the standards he sets raise everyone else’s game. He is almost like having another coach on the pitch. He seems to have like a bird’s-eye view, he seems to see everything regardless of where you are.

“He catches every mistake, you can’t get away with anything with him around, which is obviously a good thing for the most part, except when he is shouting at you for those few seconds.

“He definitely brings us to another level, so valuable for the younger guys, for the two of us coming in. The way he prepares for a game, he absolutely loves the game, puts everything into it. The utmost professional.”

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley is Rugby Correspondent of The Irish Times