Choke-ometer

Well, maybe Graham Henry has felt the noose loosen around his neck, because as far as I can see, the major chokers so far at the World Cup are the goal kickers… Let’s have a wee look at the pattern of play so far.

Dan Carter, Jonny Wilkinson, and Jonny Sexton all had miserable starts with the boot in this World Cup (and it looks like James Hook is about to join the club too). None of them have pulled out what you would exactly describe as glittering performances, and all of them could easily have put the game far beyond doubt for their sides had they landed their penalty attempts. But the prize for biggest choker(s) so far goes to…

*drumroll*

That’s right… Martín Rodríguez and Felipe Contepomi of Argentina. Between them they managed to fluff 6 penalties against England in their opening game, costing the Pumas what would have been a valuable win and leaving them an uphill struggle if they lose in any of their remaining games. Had the pair landed those 6 penalties, they would have won the game for Argentina, but alas, that wasn’t to be and England pipped them to the post.

It’s certainly been an odd start for the goal kickers this year and conspiracy theories are flying about left, right, and centre as to why this is. We’ll get a fuller picture over the next couple of days, but at the minute I’m bamboozled (in the style of that old teletext quiz on Channel 4)

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We’re off…

So, we’re off… today saw the first day of the Rugby World Cup 2011, as the mighty All Blacks, hosts and perennial favourites for the Webb Ellis trophy, took on a surprisingly sheepish Tonga side full of big guys who, at times, looked so overawed with the occasion that I’m surprised they all made it through the game without swooning and faintingat the sheer majesty of the All Blacks. On top of that, the “choke-ometer” made its international TV debut (Dan Carter looked like he was feeling the pinch already), and the noose might be feeling slightly tighter around Graham Henry’s neck, who apparently was voted at #6 in an “Enemies of New Zealand” poll in a national paper. What a bizarre statistic for a coach who’s won 89% of his games in charge. The All Blacks coaching job might be the only one in world sport with higher pressure and expectations than the England football team. At least the All Blacks have the talent to back up the expectations…

Not only did the 2011 World Cup kick off today, but The High Tackle blog also swung into action for the first time ever. We’re going to be blogging throughout the World Cup, and afterwards, looking at the latest news from across the tournament, and the rest of the rugby world.

Over the next few days we’ll be kicking things off (hohoho!) by having a look at some of the players who could be a bit of a surprise package and wow the watching world over the course of the tournament. Some of them you might expect and some you might not, but as always we’ll welcome your views and constructive criticism on the choices we’ve made. We’ll also be keeping up with the games by predicting the results, putting up some post match feedback, and even live tweeting during matches. Let’s hope we can keep up with it all! We might even convince some lovely friends to guest blog for us over the next few weeks to help us out.

So bring it on… early morning starts, late night rugby, red bull, pro plus, a few beers here and there, and clicking keyboards galore as we try to keep up with the action.

Kia waimarie to one and all, and may the best team win. (Or failing that, Ireland)