Rugby World Cup 2011

No excuses for Jonny

2011-09-10 17:46
Jonny Wilkinson (Getty Images)

Dunedin - England great Jonny Wilkinson said he alone, and not the indoor conditions at the Otago Stadium, was behind his astonishing off-day with the boot against Argentina.

England won their opening World Cup match 13-9 after replacement scrum-half Ben Youngs turned a six-point deficit into a one-point lead with the only try of the match, a score under the posts that Wilkinson converted, 13 minutes from time here on Saturday.

But Wilkinson, one of the greatest goalkickers rugby has known and the most successful scorer in World Cup history with 257 points, missed five out of eight shots at the posts, including a first-half penalty from inside the Pumas' 22.

Fortunately for England, Argentina too had a horror show with the boot, squandering a possible 18 points.

Full-back Martin Rodriguez, who shouldered the bulk of placekicking duties after Felipe Contepomi suffered an injury that forced the fly-half off the field in the 26th minute, was off-target with five of his seven goalkicks.

Wilkinson had spoken earlier in the week about the potential difficulties of kicking in an indoor venue -- the Otago Stadium boasts a permanent roof -- and with a relatively new type of ball.

But after Saturday's match Wilkinson, whose drop-goal won England the 2003 World Cup, said: "I'm not going to apportion any kind of blame than other to myself. I'm the one kicking the ball.

"It was the same for both sides. It was tough kicking out there. To get through to the end, you just had to keep taking your shots."

Wilkinson, 32, added: "In kicking, you're judged on the outcome. But as kickers, you focus on what you're doing with the ball, that's what you focus on because at the end of the day, with all these variables, you have to focus on the bit you can control and today I felt really good.

"I don't even know how many I missed," said Wilkinson, who admitted he was torn at times between whether to kick for position or go for the posts.

"It was a difficult decision-making process because what you don't want to do is hinder your chances to try and win the game.

"You have to weigh up the pros and cons of the situation. As a kicker you don't ever look and say 'I can't kick this'.

"I felt really good out there. The last thing you can say is 'what's happening?'

"You've got to look forward to the next one and say 'I'll get the next one', and that's what happened at the end."

Contepomi, who played alongside Wilkinson at French club Toulon for two seasons, said: "Most of the kicks from Martin and Jonny were long difficult kicks. Maybe they missed one easy one each.

"The pitch was perfect, there was no wind. Maybe the stands were a bit low and you have to aim for something else, but it was just one of those games where this sort of thing happened."


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