Rugby World Cup: All Blacks ready for football-style penalty shootout to decide quarter-final against Ireland

Penalty shootouts in rugby might be rarer than rare, but that hasn't stopped the All Blacks from considering their options in Sunday's (NZ time) Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Ireland.

With the World Cup about to enter its knockout phase, a draw at the end of 80 minutes will no longer suffice as a result, with places in the semi-finals up for grabs.

In professional rugby, penalty shootouts have only happened twice in the history of the game - the first between Leicester Tigers and Cardiff Blues in the 2009 Heineken Cup, and the second between Toulouse and Munster in the 2022 European Champions Cup.  

Beauden Barrett lines up a goal kick.
Beauden Barrett lines up a goal kick. Photo credit: Getty Images

However, that 2009 shootout saw all kicks taken from 22 metres, in front of the goalposts, rather than the current format, where kicks are placed across the field.  

While highly unlikely, the All Blacks themselves are completely aware of what awaits them and Ireland, should things unfold that way at the Stade de France.  

"We've got a plan around that," said coach Ian Foster. "We haven't spent bucketloads of time on it.

"We've certainly got a clear plan, we know the rules about extra time.  

"The fact is, you can't really 100 percent plan who's on the field at the end. There's a whole lot of variables we've worked through.

"Let's just get it done in 80 [minutes], make things simple, keep the broadcasters happy."

If a match finishes level, two 10-minute halves of extra time will be played in the first hope of finding a winner.

After that, 10 minutes of golden point, sudden death play will take place, with the first scorers advancing as victors. 

If both those tiebreakers finishing even, teams will take part in a football-style penalty shootout, with five players shooting for goal from a series of positions across the field, until winners are found.

Players need to be on the field at the final whistle to take penalties, which could leave teams carefully considering what substitutions to make.

While Ireland assistant coach Mike Catt offers his three starting front-rowers as penaltytakers should the situation arise, they know what's in store for them if winners are not found.  

"We have spoken about it, the players know who they are - Andrew Porter, Tadhg Furlong, Dan Sheehan," he joked. "The players are aware of it, it's a long way to go and with the golden point - you'd like to think one side would take their opportunity.  

"The players who are on the pitch know who they are, we just have to hope they put it through the middle."

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