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Slow-mo replays, place-kicking and the World Cup; the week’s best sportswriting

There are also pieces on rugby coaching and Scottish travails.

Andy McGeady's piece on place-kicking is an intriguing read.
Andy McGeady's piece on place-kicking is an intriguing read.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

1. There is a danger, when looking at players through stats, that one ignores the rest of their game. “There are a range of factors that are considered when selecting players”, said Quarrie, “of which, if you are a goal kicker, goal kicking is one. But there are a whole lot of other factors that come into play when people are making decisions about who to pick and who’s going to take what roles in games.”

One for the rugby nerds: Andy McGeady speaks to New Zealand Rugby’s Senior Scientist, Ken Quarrie, about place-kicking statistics.

2. Jonathan Pearce, the BBC commentator, indicated an awareness of the problem during the match between Argentina and Switzerland, when he complained on air about the lack of pertinent replays, letting us know that the choice of images was in the hands of a French director. “His name is Jean‑Jacques,” Pearce said darkly, and we got the point.

Writing for The Guardian, Richard Williams bemoans the slo-mo replays and close-up crowd shots in football’s TV coverage, coming as they do at the expense of showing the actual games.

3. “As head coach, all I’ve got to worry about is the rugby team performing. There’s a director of rugby who will look after staff and contracting, etc, so my job is to ensure that first XV is performing week in, week out.

“So what I’ve got to do is be very clear in my mind about what I want. And then it’s up to the other guys to fit in with that. I can’t be, ‘you do your thing, and you do your bit’ and hopefully … and rugby’s not that different – I’d suggest that in 80% of the things we talk about with the attack coach and the defence coach that we’d be on the same page.”

ESPN’s Brett McKay interviews Laurie Fisher, who will work as head coach at Gloucester under David Humphreys and previously coached at Munster.

4. The tournament got off to a great start. Spain provided some early entertainment, with a performance that rolled back the years and reminded us all of a time when they were amusing underachievers. They lost 5-1 to Holland, with Robin van Persie scoring the pick of the bunch with a remarkable diving header from distance.

Something different here, and while there is writing involved, this is all about the drawings. The Guardian’s David Squires presents the illustrated story of the 2014 World Cup.

5. Even though Scotland are still producing some great players, they just don’t have either the financial muscle or player numbers to be able continually to play at the top of the game without help.

Cotter has got to sound positive as a new coach but he must know that it is going to be an uphill struggle to keep Scotland competitive with the rest of the Six Nations, let alone the SANZAR countries and that has got to be a worry for all in the Northern Hemisphere.

The Rugby Paper’s Jeff Probyn tackles the alarming lack of growth on evidence in the Scottish national team.

Paul Kimmage ‘Rough Rider’ documentary to be broadcast on RTÉ

‘Apart from my two kids being born, it was the greatest day of my life’

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